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

I flew to the Netherlands to give birth

“My favourite spot in Utrecht is here, at Hans van der Leen’s goldsmith”, says Martha sitting at one of the workbenches. The goldsmith is tucked away in Deken Roesstraat in Buiten Wittevrouwen. Peace prevails: everyone is working with great concentration. “You can’t do this work if you’re not precise”, explains Martha. She lays out some of jewellery from her autumn collection on the table, proudly explaining how the patterns in her pieces are derived from autumn leaves. “It’s so cool to see the designs in your head transformed into beautiful items of jewellery.”

Everyone in the goldsmith is working hard on the exhibition due to take place in the Botanical gardens in May. “I love working with my hands and being creative. It’s also useful to be able to practise my profession wherever I happen to be.” And in her case, it’s just as well: this is Martha´s fourth ‘new’ country in the past few years. She was born in Mexico City, where she fell in love with a Dutchman working on a PhD at the university there. On completing his PhD, he was offered a job in Hungary. They lived together in Hungary for five years, before moving to Italy and Belgium, and in 2009, finally to the Netherlands. To Martha, every move was an exciting new adventure. As a result, she has met a lot of people and learned a lot about different cultures, all of which inspire her in her work. And she has friends living practically everywhere. “An added bonus!”

A good neighbour is better than a distant friend

Martha enjoys living in the Hoograven district with her husband and two daughters. Her street, Julianaweg, has an attractive green central reservation. Martha gets on well with her neighbours, something she considers important. It was her neighbour who originally tipped her off about the goldsmith in Buiten Wittevrouwen, where Martha now hires a workbench several days a week. She likes Utrecht, which she considers less ‘chaotic’ than Amsterdam. “I can’t see myself moving again in the near future. My family is settled here.”

Martha first came to the Netherlands to give birth to her oldest daughter. She was unhappy with her Hungarian doctor and the language was a problem. Two months later, she and her new-born daughter flew home to Hungary. Every summer, Martha, her husband and their daughters fly back to Mexico, where they stay for at least a month. She brought her children up bilingually, so that they would feel partly Mexican. In Mexico, they visit relations as well as new towns and, of course, the beach. So would Martha consider moving back to Mexico? “No. I miss my family, which is why we visit every year. But for now, I’m very happy in Utrecht.”

Name: Martha Castaneda
Place of birth: Mexico City, Mexico
Motto: ‘Be happy’

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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