A Spaniard in Utrecht

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José Agustín is from Cartagena, a coastal city, part of the Autonomous Community of Murcia in the South-East of Spain. He is 34 years old and now works at University of Murcia, Spain, as a researcher and professor. He is developing his thesis about esports (electronic sports) and he also studies and teaches about video games, serial fiction and digital communication. As can be expected, José Agustín likes video games, TV series, movies and reading.

What brought you to Utrecht?

As part of my Masters thesis project I wanted to  do a research stay abroad. One of my colleagues at University of Murcia was researching about advergames and she did her stay at Utrecht University, specifically at the Utrecht Centre for Game Research. Her experience and time there was so nice and rewarding because of the staff’s expertise, openness and guidance. My wife and I visited her a couple of years ago to know and see the city and the Netherlands and we loved it. Therefore, I decided to apply for a short stay.

Where is your favourite place in Utrecht?

There are many places I love in Utrecht. Wilhelminapark is a lovely place to walk in while you have an ice-cream and there is an amazing ice-cream parlour next to the park. Also, the city centre around the Domtoren with the canals and comic and bookstores is so friendly. But my favourite place is De Uithof, its campus and landscapes. The mix between science, technology and nature has everything for me.

Did Utrecht inspire you?

Absolutely. The climate and atmosphere of Utrecht were so different from Cartagena so I was in a calm, nice and completely new place surrounded by brilliant researchers, the perfect environment to be focused on my thesis. I progressed and produced very much during those three months.

What would be a perfect day in Utrecht for you?

A sunny, but not too much, day that starts with a tasty breakfast at Bakkerswinkel, close to the faculty where I worked. It continues with a walk through the streets around the city centre and then I would like to visit the Museum Speelklok. After that,travel to De Uithof to have a couple of sandwiches walking around Fort Rhijnauwen. The afternoon would be dedicated to visiting board games and comics stores along Oudegracht. Having some fries at Frietwinkel with my friends and having a beer and playing at TivoliVredenburg would precede a great night of watching videos, a movie or playing games at my friends’ whilst it’s raining outside.

What is the main difference between the Spanish and the Dutch?

I don’t think we are so different. Maybe Spanish speak louder, make more fun of almost everything or enjoy things more openly, but both of us are nice, polite and hard workers.

Do you think there is a Dutch way of life?

I think there are two Dutch ways of life. The first comes out when it’s sunny. Then, the Dutch way of life is really close to the Spanish one. They enjoy the chance of going out and to barbecues, meet friends and go outside. The second one is like a grey/cloudy mode where rush, independence and quietness rule the way. Both of them look solemn, well-mannered and efficient.

Do you think you fit in to the Dutch way of life?

Sure, people always say I’m more Nordic than Latin in many ways. I really enjoy these multifaceted way of life.

Did you know many Spanish expats in Utrecht or do you make friends with the Dutch?

I took advantage of both sides. Laura, my colleague from University of Murcia and Sjors, my host at UU were the pillars of my life in Utrecht and through them I knew more Spanish expats, from other Dutch cities and genuine Utrechters. The international and multicultural nature of ICON (Institute for Cultural Inquiry), where the Game Research Centre belongs and UU itself, makes it easier to know people from many countries and cultures.

Do you think the Dutch could learn anything from the Spanish?

Maybe to keep working and producing as much as they usually do, but enjoying more the chance to be together and to get involved with workmates, friends and people in general.

And one more thing, we could teach you how to cook and eat better, probably not healthier, but better!

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Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins is Welsh and lives in England. He is a writer. A Europhile and Remainer, he is a regular visitor to Utrecht and has set his crime novel series in the city.

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