Amsterdam through Spanish eyes
Spaniard Cesar Gomez-Mora jumped at the chance to live in Amsterdam in 2000, discovering later the Dutch to be 'soft on the outside, but hard on the inside'. Impressed by Dutch homes and surprised by the maturity of young Dutch people, this is his st
Name: Cesar Gomez-Mora
City of residence: Amsterdam
Date of birth: 27 May 1975
Marital status: unmarried, Dutch girlfriend, no children
Employer: Cambridge Technology Partners
Position: senior consultant
In Amsterdam since: 2000
I studied Computer Engineering in Valencia and realised after my studies that economically speaking, it was not an exciting city. I could therefore choose for a large city in Spain such as Barcelona or Madrid, but just as easily for another European city.
I went to an IT job fair and the best offer ultimately came from an Amsterdam company, the one I still work for.
In regards the company culture, it is similar to the United States; the willing-to-improve attitude. In Spain, the attitude is: if it goes well, that is sufficient. They never go for 100 percent.
What I also noticed was the way in which you are treated as a new colleague in the company. You immediately get responsibility that is fitting to your education and position. In Spain, you are only allowed in the beginning, in a manner of speaking, to do some copying,
The salaries here are higher than in Spain so I have more money for my hobby - skydiving. Unfortunately, the weather here is not as good, so ultimately I cannot jump more often.
I find the people here are very relaxed, peaceful. This is very different to Valencia.
Take, for example, the behaviour of motorists. As soon as Spaniards get in the car they get road rage! Drive aggressively, hoot their car horns and there is never an accident without an argument. In the Netherlands, people would get out of their car relaxed and do the insurance papers together!
Dutch people are very tolerant, but that can be a double-edged sword. They accept a lot — which can be very nice — but on the other hand it is also an attitude of: "I don't give a damn". If a sick tourist is lying on the street in the Red Light District in Amsterdam, due to too many drugs or too much alcohol, everyone just simply walks by.
Another major difference is the maturity of Dutch people. A Dutch person of 18 is mentally much more adult than a Spaniard. He carries a lot more responsibility and is independent earlier. He just knows what he wants, has very clear ideas, knows which party he will vote for, those sorts of things.
Here, people go and live alone at a young age. But in Spain, you often move out of home only when you get married. Half of my friends, for example, still live at home.
Night life and birthdays
Gomez-Mora looks at life here through Spanish eyes
While going out, I observed after a while that Dutch people are softer outside, but harder on the inside than Spaniards, who are completely the other way around!
In the Netherlands, you can easily make contact with people in a café due to the soft outside, but really making friends with someone is difficult. In Spain, it is more that you have to have friends of friends to get to know people because of the hard outside. Girls, in particular, are very arrogant and defensive. You have to have a good story!
I don't necessarily think going out here is more fun, Spain is, after all, number one when it comes to going out. The bars and nightclubs close a lot later and there are more after-hour clubs. The parties are also much better, more lively, less civil.
Queen's Day for example is great fun, but in Spain these sorts of parties go on for a week. Every city has its own festival week, often related to a saint.
Birthday parties in the Netherlands are often simply held at home with some cheese blocks and a bit of conversation … in Spain, we all go out for food — lunch or dinner — at long tables in a restaurant. It is really going out, everything is more exuberant.
People here live much more indoors, but that is naturally due to the weather. Dutch houses therefore very beautifully furnished. They look as though they are from a home decoration magazine.
I was very shocked, mind you, in the beginning by the large windows here. You can see exactly what the people do in their houses, whether they are watching television, eating or sitting at the computer.
But now I am used to it and I also understand that you want to have large windows if you sit inside a lot. Elderly people sit behind the windows the whole day looking outside, but in Spain they sit out the front and have a lot more contact with the outside world.
The language sounds a little but like English to me. I find the pronunciation of all the vocals seriously difficult because in Spain you only have five. But as a Spaniard, I don't have as much trouble with the "G", the Spanish "G" is even harder.
I sometimes find the sentence structure awkward and also all the phrasal verbs such as omslaan (knock or turn over), inslaan (smash in), uitslaan (break out or spread), afslaan (branch off or beat off), etc.
I have had both group and private lessons and I can now say everything that I want to in Dutch. If I ring official authorities, I always start in Dutch and if it becomes too difficult, I ask if it can be done in English. I have then made an effort and that is appreciated. I am always treated in a very friendly manner.
My Dutch girlfriend really wants to go abroad; she wants to have more nature around her. Ultimately, I would very much want that also, but for now I will stay in the city in connection with work.
I will possibly stay in the Netherlands for another two or three years, but then I will move on. There are so many possibilities for me in other countries.
Cesar Gomez-Mora told his story to Nicole van Schaijik, who owns and operates
Talent Taaltrainingen (Dutch Language Courses), based in Amsterdam.
(Tel: 020 420 66 59 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
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