“I lived in Paraguay until I was eighteen before moving to Spain. My mother had already moved there after divorcing my father. Because we had Spanish nationality and because Paraguay used to be a Spanish colony the culture shock wasn’t so great. Perhaps a little, from the accent.
Two years later I moved to Groningen to study and a year later I ended up in Amsterdam for my job. I had already visited Amsterdam a number of times from Groningen. Everyone speaks English here, it’s very international, and you immediately feel like you are part of the city. It’s full of life, busy, and everyone seems happy. At first I was afraid it might be too sprawling and unsafe here. I come from a small Paraguayan town, as well as Malaga, which you also can’t call a city. But it went well; people were lovely and I felt very safe here.
Just like a lot of others, I have had to get used to the weather. We have rain in Paraguay, but it’s another kind of rain. The sandwich culture is also completely new for me. We eat a warm meal in the day, and lots of meat. But even if I complain about the sandwiches, in Spain I’ll eat them at midday, when I’m finding it too hot. I’m slowly becoming an Amsterdammer.
The big difference with Paraguay is all the rules here. They don’t have this many in Paraguay. If you get a ticket and start to cry, or even joke with the policeman there’s a big chance he won’t bother. It’s very different here. In Madrid my bag was stolen so I arrived back in Amsterdam on a Sunday, with no house keys. I had to pay the locksmith fifty euros to come round, another seventy euros because my contract says I have to pay this if I lose my keys, and one hundred and twenty euros for the new lock. “But I don’t need a new lock” I tried to tell them, “my bag was stolen in Madrid; I doubt the thief will come here”. But no. It’s in the contract. So that’s it. Rules are rules.
10 people in Amsterdam have the Paraguayan nationality