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Paula & Ana, Spain

When I say that the sun is not yet low enough to take the photo, Paula (22) and Ana (17) first want to eat nachos and have a drink on the terrace of a beach bar. It feels Mediterranean and immediately there’s a good vibe with these two girls with Spanish blood.

“Our mother is Spanish and we were both born in Madrid,” says Paula. “We lived just outside the town center of this big and busy city. Our neighborhood was surrounded by quite a few parks. We used to go there every day to play as toddlers. Our dog also came along with us.”

“There is a Dutch primary school in Madrid, which we both attended,” adds Ana. “We started when we were three years old, which is customary in Spain. The school had about a hundred pupils and education went until group eight at age 12. Some children had two Dutch parents, others were mixed, like us. That school was good to learn more about Dutch culture. In this way we grew up with a healthy balance between both countries, cultures and languages.”

“We were 8 and 13 years old when we moved to Leiden. It was quite a transition to move from a city with six million to one with 125,000 inhabitants, but we now feel at home here. It feels more like a village to us, but fortunately it is very international. Of course we already knew The Netherlands well, because we spent our summers here every two years. Plus, we have a lot of family here.”

“We always say that we are 100% Spanish and 100% Dutch. Not half-half. That is exactly how it feels. We are very open to other cultures and love to travel. We have been to Asia several times, for example. And from this September I will live in South Korea for a year,” says Paula. “I'm going to miss her, but you can't tell her that,” Ana jokes. Paula hears the comment but at first ignores it. Then she replies to her sister: “Muy divertido, very funny."

The bowl of nachos is empty and the sun is lower now. We get ready and walk through the sand to the waterline to capture the end of the day. “You are such nice and interesting girls, what is the status of relationships?” I ask. “Are there any candidates yet?” They look at each other in surprise. Then Ana says: “You're not going to write this in the article, right? Don't be so annoying, dad!”


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