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

– article by Annabel van Heesbeen

The start-up culture in Utrecht is so cool

“Whenever you go outside in Utrecht, there are always people on the street. Particularly in good weather. The pavement cafés are packed; it’s a great vibe”, says Peter. His favourite spot is the terrace outside De Beurs on de Neude, where the burgers are right to his taste.

His love of hamburgers probably stems from the nine years he spent in the United States before coming to Utrecht. Peter and his parents moved from Bulgaria to America when he was eleven. Peter’s mother worked as a hairdresser in Bulgaria, his father was a lorry driver. His parents left their homeland to live ‘The American Dream’. Thinking about Bulgaria reminds Peter of his family and the warm hospitality. “It’s completely normal to invite people to your home in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian culture is like a southern culture, like Spain. Birthdays are a big happening. Friends and relations come round to eat and drink Rakija.”

Start-ups in Utrecht

Peter met his German girlfriend in America. She was working in Chicago for a year as an au pair. They both fancied a new adventure, and as it happened, were both interested in the same degree programme. They wanted to study abroad and chose the Netherlands. “The Netherlands has a strong international focus – you can do almost anything here if you speak English. And the degree programmes are of a high quality.” They found the ideal programme in Utrecht: international business and management. For the first two years, they lived in Zeist, which Peter found ‘too boring’. “There’s not much to do there. I feel much more at home in Utrecht. It’s not as massive and in-your-face as America, but it’s livelier than Bulgaria.” Peter’s course involved spending a year in Moscow. He says that you can always the sounds of city life in Moscow. Utrecht is quieter, which he likes. He also like the compactness of the city. You can walk practically everywhere whereas you had to rely on public transport in Moscow.

Peter is particularly impressed by the start-up culture in Utrecht. Before he graduated, he sent a copy of his CV to UtrechtInc on the Uithof, an incubator for innovative start-ups. He started working at Channable and is still loving it. “I like the fact that the company employs lots of international staff. The working culture is different from Bulgaria. You can be friends with your colleagues here, and even have a relaxed relationship with your boss. Hierarchy is important in Bulgaria and you don’t get too close to your boss. Everyone is treated equally here.” It was easy to make friends with other international students, but Peter has noticed a definite language barrier when it comes to Dutch students. He doesn’t speak Dutch, but it’s next on his to-do list, once he’s handed in his thesis. He plans on staying in Utrecht for the foreseeable future. “I don’t make long-term plans, but I definitely intend to stay here for a while.”

Name: Peter Kostov
Place of birth: Kardzhali, Bulgaria
Motto: ‘Eyes forward and keep going’

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.