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

The hardest part of learning Dutch was the Utrecht dialect

Allemaal Utrechters – Ocimar Ferreira

Foto: Bas van Setten

“I was in the Galgenwaard stadium when I read the e-mail from DUIC asking me to do an ‘Allemaal Utrechters’ interview. Strangely enough, this is the place where I did most of my integrating! My husband is the football fan, not me, but we often go to the FC Utrecht home games with friends. It’s always fun.”

Ocimar and her husband sometimes go on holiday with these friends too, once even visiting her home town of Fortaleza in Brazil. Ocimar’s friend liked it so much that she wanted to live her. “She saw everyone dancing and partying in the typical South-American outdoor life. The restaurants were packed every evening and the streets throbbed with samba music. This is the impression tourists get, but of course it’s not always one big party.”

Ocimar’s husband loves Brazil too, having been there a few times before they met. “We’d ‘spoken’ to each other through a dating site a couple of years before we actually met, and then I suddenly got a message saying he was in Fortaleza”, explains the Brazilian. Love blossomed, but it soon became clear that this cool Dutch guy had two left feet when it came to dancing, one of Ocimar’s passions. “South-Americans are born with rhythm. You… aren’t.”

He visited four more times in the next two years and in 2010, Ocimar moved in with him in Utrecht. They now live in Leidsche Rijn.

Starting over

“My husband wanted to practise his Portuguese with me, but I wanted to learn Dutch. So whenever he asked me something in Portuguese, I answered really quickly so he couldn’t understand.” One of the hardest things about learning Dutch was getting to grips with the Utrecht dialect. “My husband often pronounces things differently from the way I’ve learned, which totally wrongfoots me.”

After six months, she applied for a job as a cleaner in the Apollo Hotel, with her husband as an interpreter. It should be said that Ocimar studied history and worked as a financial administrator in Brazil. “I wasn´t qualified for anything else here, but I didn’t want to stay at home either.”

Six months later, she started cleaning in a retirement home. “This was much better; I’ve always like old people but we don’t have retirement homes in Brazil.” She managed to get on an internal training course for care workers. Although the language was an extra obstacle, she still passed and nowadays, Ocimar is a ‘helping plus’ in a villa for the elderly (including those with dementia) in Zeist. “I enjoy paying them attention and helping. Next year, I’m going for the level 3 training.”

“I had to start over in the Netherlands”, says Ocimar. “I even had to take driving lessons. The instructor said the language problem would make it impossible for me to pass my theory test first time, but I did. Nearly all the Dutch people in my group failed, some of them for the fifth time.”

Her husband is always boasting about her, and her brother-in-law often says: ‘You’ve adapted so well!’ Ocimar’s answer? ‘I had no choice’. She smiles. “I always get what I want because I’m from Brazil. Brazilians never give up!”

Name: Ocimar Ferreira
Place of birth: Fortaleza, Brazil
Motto: ‘You can do anything if you really put your mind to it’

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.

Click here to view the other articles.

Article by Fenna Riethof.