Meet Our Ambassador: Román Moraleja

By 5 maart 2018Ambassadors

Some of the dentists who come to the Netherlands through DPA Dentistry also become our ambassadors. This means they help dentists who are interested in coming to the Netherlands by providing them with information about the DPA project, the Dutch life and any other questions they may have. Because they are dentists who experienced the DPA Dentistry project first-hand, our ambassadors have a unique perspective that they can use to help the people who have the same questions that they may have had themselves a few years ago.

Román Moraleja is one of these ambassadors. Read our profile to learn more about his journey to the Netherlands and his life as a dentist in The Hague. Are you thinking about coming to the Netherlands and would you like to ask your questions to a dentist just like you? Contact Román by clicking here.Román is 26 years old and he was born and raised in a small southern city in Spain called Murcia, where he earned his Master’s degree in Dentistry. Román is a friendly, dynamic and curious dentist who always looks at the bright side of things. For the past 2 years, he has been living in The Hague, one of the biggest cities in the Netherlands. With its many monuments, its government buildings and its close proximity to one of the country’s most famous beaches, The Hague is visited by hundreds of thousands of people every year. Certainly it is one of the best places to live as a young professional.

Román works from Monday to Friday and he has a full agenda. A normal day for him starts by waking up at 7:30 in the morning. Once he has finished getting ready for work, he leaves the house at around 8:15. In good Dutch fashion, he travels to the clinic on a bicycle, which takes him no longer than 10 minutes. Before the first patient arrives, he has a chat with his colleagues while enjoying a cup of coffee. Then work starts, and Román starts treating the first of the 20-30 patients he has on a regular work day. The flow of patients is interrupted only by a 30-minute lunch break at 12:30, which is a big contrast with the longer siesta break in Spain. After he finishes his lunch, Román continues working until the end of his work day, which ends at 5PM.

When we asked Román if he experienced a sense of cultural shock when he came to Holland, he said: “I can’t say I experienced cultural shock. It is true that you handle a lot of things differently. For example, I know some friends who have siesta during their breaks, or eat the Spanish way (a warm meal during lunch), and it isn’t a problem. You can keep most of your habits, and of course adopt what you like from the Dutch way of life.”

Like any other person who moves to the Netherlands from a warm country such as Spain, Román misses the hot and sunny weather, and of course his family back in Spain. Even in the Netherlands, Román is surrounded by Spanish friends who have made a similar journey, so he always carries a piece of Spain with him.

According to Román, in order to make friends in a new country, one of the most important things is to just be positive and open-minded. This attitude did not just help him to integrate, but also to improve his Dutch: “I believe the best advice is that you simply shouldn’t be afraid of talking about anything or anywhere. It’s very difficult to speak as perfectly as we’d like, but the best way to learn and improve is by making mistakes.”

Román also credits his colleagues for helping him improve his Dutch. Even in the beginning, when everything was new and he had trouble maintaining a fluent conversation, his colleagues were hospitable and patient: “In one of my first weeks, right before I was able to move into my own apartment, one of my colleagues had me living in her own house as part of the family. This is a gesture that I won’t soon forget.”On the topic of work conditions, Román says that Dutch clinics and patients give the dentist much more room to develop themselves. As an example, he mentions that in Spain, he worked at different locations but still experienced difficulties filling his agenda. In the Netherlands, meanwhile, he has a full agenda every week. Another advantage is that he is now able to be home around 5:30 in the afternoon, which gives him the opportunity to spend time on his sportive hobbies–such as basketball, football or running–have a beer with his friends, or just enjoy taking a rest and prepare for the next day.

Yet, even with all these advantages, the beginning of Román’s working life in the Netherlands was not as easy as it may seem: “The first month is probably the hardest for everyone. During this period you have your first contact with real Dutch patients, so in addition making sure your dentistry is at its best, you also have to focus on the language. In the beginning it can be difficult to communicate, which can even be a bit frustrating because you can’t say exactly what you want to all the time. In my case, I definitely recommend having hobbies and good friends so you can give some balance to the stress you might experience during this time. But as with everything, eventually things get better if you give them enough time, patience and effort.”

On the question if he is happy with his decision, Román answered: “I have been with this clinic in The Hague for 2 years already, and I am still happy and eager to see what comes next. Even though at the beginning of my career I never thought about moving out of my country, it turned out to be a great decision. If you are thinking about spending time abroad, and if you’re willing to learn a new language and getting some experience, the Netherlands is a good choice, or at least a good option to take into consideration. It is not always easy, as there are plenty of obstacles and challenges along the way, and all in all it’s a long process. But along the way you might achieve things you once thought impossible, and this is a big reward. In conclusion, I think this life choice enriches you as a person while you also work on what you like and studied for. You grow personally and professionally, and you also become more independent and develop yourself in ways that you may have never considered before.”