The Sweet Spot: Paulina

Spartan minded folks uncover the places they love most. This time we're meeting Paulina Herra. Her favorite place? Her house in Utrecht.

You wouldn’t even notice it. It’s just a small gap between a longer line of buildings. But when you enter, you’re amazed. You no longer feel like you’re in the centre of vibrant Utrecht. The alley is so narrow you have to wait to let someone pass. When you look up, on the one side you see the scaffolding clad Dom tower, on the other you see the tower of Museum Catherijne Convent. For Paulina Herra, this is her home.

Paulina proudly swings her door open to let visitors into her cosy living room. Excitedly she tells about the fire she lit for the first time a couple of days ago. Board games cover her wall and her piano is hidden in a nook below the staircase. “I moved here in March 2021, right in the middle of the pandemic. Imagine leaving everything you know and love: your family, friends, dog, your culture. To go to a foreign country and start a new life. These last months have felt like the hardest time of my life, but also the happiest.”

Three meals

The 29 year old Java backend consultant has found her footing in Utrecht. “It was a big adjustment. In Costa Rica when you are not married, you live with your parents. So that’s what I did. Moving here meant I’d have to maintain my own household. And I can tell you, I did not expect it to be that much work. I just eat twice a day now. It’s such a hassle to come up with three meals a day.”

“I have such a nice, peaceful life now. I appreciate small things more. When I have cooked a meal I feel so proud of myself. For Dutch people it’s probably nothing, but I have to navigate my way to the supermarket without speaking the language through a city that sometimes is still foreign to me, buy the right products, go home, and then cook the meal. That is an accomplishment in itself.”

Here you can write a caption

Piano lessons

Moving to Utrecht was a conscious decision. “Amsterdam was the only place in the Netherlands that I knew. But I was going to work at Wärtsilä in Drunen so I knew I had to find somewhere in between. And I am so happy I chose this city. It’s such a creative hub. There are loads of musicians here. There is actually a famous Dutch artist who lives three doors down! I was told lots of people from around the world come here to study piano because of the quality of teachers in Utrecht. It inspired me to buy a piano shortly after my arrival. Now I have weekly lessons.”

“I think learning to play an instrument is a lot like coding. It’s problem solving by breaking bigger problems down into smaller solutions. 90 percent of the time you suck at it. But you just keep practicing the smaller pieces, until you get those right and are able to combine them into a song or a big chunk of code. It’s important that you’re comfortable with failing.” She smiles. “And believe me: to get comfortable with that, it does help to move to a country you don’t know, with a language you don’t speak.”

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Camilo Parra Gonzalez

Camilo Parra Gonzalez

Account Manager