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

The Santa Lucia pizzeria is one of Utrecht’s hidden gems

(c) Bas van Setten

“The Dutch claim to be very direct, and proud of it. But the Dutch are amateurs compared with the Norwegians; we are really direct! The Dutch are quite diplomatic in their directness. I had to tone down my Norwegian directness when I realised that it wasn’t the best way to win friends and influence people!”, says Vegard in his office on Jansdam. Vegard feels right at home in the Netherlands. He sees a lot of similarities between the Norwegian and the Dutch mentality; people in both countries tend to be fairly informal.

It was love that Vegard to Utrecht in 2001. He’d met his wife two years earlier on the campus of the University of Bergen. Vegard was studying computer sciences at the same time that a Dutch girl on an the Erasmus exchange programme was attending his lectures for a year. As he was involved in an exchange programme for technical students coming to Bergen, Vegard was destined to meet the woman from Utrecht. To be precise, they met at a Mexican evening where Vegard was doing the cooking with a Spaniard.

Vegard loved student life. He came from a small Norwegian island called Stord, so being surrounded by countless international students literally breathed new life into him. Vegard says that the population of ‘his’ island is like that of Texel. There’s no opportunity for higher education, so you have to leave to do any kind of degree. Vegard chose Bergen, where it rains three hundred days per year. “People think it rains a lot here. They should go to Bergen – it can rain continuously for two months. I consider myself lucky to live in the Netherlands, where it hardly ever rains.”

The sedate pace of Norway

After graduating, Vegard left for Utrecht to move into his girlfriend’s student digs in Tolsteeg. His sole possessions were a credit card and a toothbrush. He’d saved enough money to support himself for six months and planned to return to Norway if he couldn’t find a job. But: Vegard did find a job! He’s been in Utrecht for seventeen years now. “People are more sedate in Norway; they walk more slowly and do everything at a leisurely pace. Everyone seems to be in a hurry in the Netherlands, everything has to be done quickly. I like that.” He refers to the Santa Lucia Pizzeria on Nobelstraat as one of Utrecht’s hidden gems. They serve the best pizza he’s ever eaten. “It’s one of the few pizzerias in Utrecht where the owners are real Italians.”

Vegard currently lives in Vleuten with his wife and two children. They enjoy eating at BraZZerie Abrona, a restaurant where people with learning difficulties work. “I like to see how useful they feel. And the food is up to Michelin standard.” Vegard loves living in Vleuten with his family; he sees it as a green oasis. “I used to say that I wouldn’t be found dead in the suburbs of a city, but I can’t deny that I really like living here. We’ve got a big garden, everyone knows each other, and we organise BBQ parties with the neighbours. It’s like being in the Truman Show. Have you seen that film?”

Name: Vegard Sivertsen
Place of birth: Stord, Norway
Date of birth: 13 March 1974
Motto: ‘You can’t do anything about the weather, but you can always do something about your mood’

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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