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

Student life is the shit; it’s all downhill after that

Foto: Robert Oosterbroek / DUIC

“Everyone gets the day off when it rains in Aruba.” So after stepping outside to go to college on a rainy morning in Utrecht, Pablo Castellanos turned round and went back to bed. The next day, no-one in Pablo’s class understood where he’d been.

Pablo’s answer to the question of where he comes from is: “I come from the world.” He finds it difficult to be more specific. Born in Venezuela, he and his family moved to Colombia before he was one, and to Aruba looking for a better life when he was five. “Life is hard in Colombia; you have to know the right people or have at least two jobs to survive.” Things were more relaxed in Aruba.

Your training options are, however, somewhat limited. Most of the islanders come to the Netherlands to study and Pablo was no exception. He already had a Dutch passport because his mother had remarried an Aruban. “I didn’t want to go to Rotterdam or The Hague, like most people from Aruba.” He chose Utrecht, where was admitted to the ROC Sport College. While doing a placement in a gym for a course in social pedagogy, he realised what really made him happy: sport. “I not only taught it, but I was taking part too. Wicked!”

‘A great vibe’
Although Dutch is the official language in Aruba, Pablo only spoke Papiamento. Dutch was ‘facking’ difficult. “You all talk so fast, mumbling with all those Gs. I couldn’t even watch TV at first.” And Dutch punctuality took a bit of getting used to; Pablo thinks Utrecht is relaxed, but less so than Aruba. “People who travelled 90 minutes to get to college were on time. It only took me ten minutes, but I was always late.” He liked college and liked learning, but didn’t like getting up early. He was supposed to do laps of the athletics track at the crack of dawn on winter mornings. “In the snow!” Pablo exclaims. “I didn’t go…” But he made up for it in the summer. He’s still getting his head around the climate; looking at the trees outside, he comments: “They’ve got a great vibe going on. Sometimes they have leaves, then suddenly they don’t.”

His move to the Netherlands was ‘an experience’, his student life in Utrecht ‘the shit’. “You know how to party. It’s not as wild as Amsterdam, but you can do what you like.” It’s all downhill after college, he says: “Then it’s all about work, a house, car, kids, family and that’s it: you’re dead. Stress and pressure.” He won’t stay in the Netherlands. “I’ve got dreams. I want to see the world; climb Mount Everest, sail across the Bermuda Triangle.”

For the time being, Pablo has finished college and gives boot camps, self-defence courses and judo under the motto Body Mind Soul (BMS). “It’s important to be mentally and physically strong.” Personally, he focuses on his physical strength; he feels fine mentally. “I’ve always been very positive and love everything life has to offer.”


Name: Pablo Castellanos
Date of birth: 26 May 1988
Place of birth: Caracas, Venezuela
Motto: ‘Enjoy life and travel’

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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