Utrecht is home to many nationalities. Every week, DUIC features an Utrechter with a different background. The concept was inspired by ‘180 amsterdammers’.

I’ve got a better balance between my social life and my personal life here”

foto: Jantine Albers

Marlen had already lived in several other countries before arriving in the Netherlands. “I’d always wanted to study in Europe and I spent a long time searching for the right Master’s degree programme. But when I read the course description for the Master’s in ‘Innovation Sciences’, I knew I’d found what I’d been looking for”, explains Marlen. She’d never heard of Utrecht, but this didn’t put her off. “I’m not scared of trying new things; in fact that’s what makes life interesting.”

Although Marlen speaks and understands a bit of Dutch, she finds it difficult to practise her language skills. English is the language spoken at work and everyone in the city speaks English too. Marlen doesn’t mind this, as she makes allowances for tourists when she’s in Costa Rica too. But she’s doing her best to learn Dutch. “I think it’s up to me to put in the effort. After all, I don’t want to get lost in the system. Learning the language is essential if you want to play a role in society”, says Marlen.

Costa Rica and the Netherlands are two very different countries. Take the weather. “It’s not actually that bad. I thought it would be as cold as Canada here!”, laughs Marlen. “The winters are okay, but I miss having a real summer in the Netherlands.” The landscape is different too. In Costa Rica, you can walk for hours and only see pure nature. Marlen says that her native country looks after its nature. The country leads the way in the field of sustainability. A staggering 99% of power is generated from sustainable sources, mainly in hydroelectric power plants. “The next step is to get more people to drive electric cars in Costa Rica”, continues Marlen. The fact that people in Costa Rica are so aware of sustainability is probably down to the huge difference between the dry and the wet seasons. “There´s plenty of power when it rains, but I remember public service announcements on television during the dry season asking people to use electricity sparingly.”

Marlen enjoys living in the Netherlands. She thinks that she has a better balance between her social life and her personal life. “Utrecht is my base, I can´t envisage living anywhere else at the moment. I know all the streets and I love the Lombok district, Wilhelmina park, the Maarsseveense Plassen, the Krommerijn. I´m also a regular at TivoliVredenburg and Le Guess Who.” This doesn´t mean that the Costa Rican plans to stay in the Netherlands forever. “I´ll go back to the Tropics one day. I want to reconnect, it´s in my blood.”

Name: Marlen Murillo Rojas
Place of birth: Grecia, Alajuela, Costa Rica
Date of birth: 24 April 1987
Motto: ‘I want to be challenged and learn new things’ – ‘Do the things you want to do, with the people you want to be with’

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.

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