Utrecht is home to many nationalities. Every week, DUIC features an Utrechter with a different background. The concept was inspired by ‘180 amsterdammers’.
“I try to get the best out of both countries”
It was love that brought Lucia to the Netherlands over four years ago, but her work is what kept her here. “I’d always wanted to go abroad, but there had never been a good opportunity”, explains Lucia. “When I finished my PhD, I started looking for a job outside the Slovak Republic but for some reason, the Netherlands wasn’t really on my radar. I think I’d somehow forgotten it existed.” But during a salsa party in Berlin, she met a guy from Leiden and decided to look for work in the Netherlands. Lucia found her dream job at Nutricia on the Uithof in Utrecht. “The work is creative, it allows me to develop my talents and I really like the international culture there.”
She likes living in the Netherlands and Utrecht. “I love cycling. We don’t use bikes as means of transport in Slovakia, it’s too dangerous to bike in traffic. I hadn’t cycled for ten years before I came to the Netherlands. It took me a little while to get used to it, but now I even bike when it is raining. It’s relaxing; I see it as time for myself, time to sort out my thought.” Lucia has noticed a few differences between life in Slovakia and in the Netherlands. “I try to get the best out of both countries. The Dutch are very direct, for example. This can make day-to-day life easier, at least if you can manage to be nice too. Last year, I had a run-in with someone in Slovakia because I was being too direct. Apparently I’ve become more direct without realizing it.”
Lucia also sees differences between the countries in terms of healthcare: “The hospitals in the Netherlands are much better, but there seems to be less focus on prevention than in Slovakia.”
“Utrecht is bursting with opportunities. It’s fun and there’s plenty going on”, says Lucia. She enjoys yoga (YogaMoves is her favourite studio), going to salsa parties (Stairway is the place to be on Tuesday evenings) and she works out regularly at various gyms (Lucia is a big fan of the OneFit app). When it comes to salsa, Lucia is a real ‘influencer’. “I get people hooked. I started giving free salsa classes at work twice a month. It’s a great feeling to see how people change from being tired to being relaxed during a salsa class. Dancing brings people together, it’s a powerful networking tool. I’ve met many people at salsa parties, and even met my best Dutch friends through a salsa teacher training. People say that it takes a long time to make real friends in the Netherlands. Maybe I got lucky, or perhaps a shared passion for dancing makes it easier to get close.”
Lucia tries to go to Slovakia every two or three months, so she would not really miss her home country. It’s not that far away: seven hours door-to-door. “I love visiting my family and friends, to help my mother in the flower shop where she works and go skiing with my brother and father.” Lucia says that she’s created her own ‘Little Slovakia’ in Utrecht, as she is living with a Slovak friend at the moment. She’s doing her best to learn to speak Dutch. “My Dutch boyfriend is helping me and encourages me to learn the language.
Name: Lucia Mikušová
Place of birth: Bratislava, Slovakia
Motto: ‘What does not kill you, makes you stronger – but choose the boundaries of your growth wisely’
Allemaal Utrechters is a series of interviews with people who moved to Utrecht from another country. We ask them about their background and their impression of Utrecht, revealing the true diversity of our city. The ‘Allemaal Utrechters’ series is a collaboration between DUIC and Culturele Zondagen, and has been made possible with help from Stichting Dialoog and the Municipality of Utrecht. We hope to showcase every nationality in Utrecht.