Expat life in Nijmegen: Elle, United States

In the series "Expat Life in Nijmegen", expats talk about their lives in the Netherlands' oldest city. How did they end up here? What do they do in daily life here and what do they think of the city and its surroundings? 

Here's the story of Elle from United States...

"I moved to Nijmegen in October 2022. My boyfriend works at Radboud University, and I learned that I could come to the Netherlands on a DAFT Visa, so I decided to make the jump. I had lived in a few states in the US but never overseas, so this is a first.

I’m a hairstylist and a fully licensed cosmetologist in America, but it took quite some time to be able to work here. Because I’m from the US, I needed a residence permit to register my business with the KVK. But after almost nine months, I started working as a hairstylist in June 2023.

I think I had less of a culture shock at the beginning because I didn’t start working immediately, and I didn’t have a set community that I moved into. The biggest culture shock for me was probably working with my Dutch customers when I started at the hair salon. They tend to be less emotive than Americans. An American might go: ‘Oh my god, I love it, thank you so much!’ and take a photo of their hair. My Dutch customers usually say: ‘It’s good’ – and that’s it.

In the beginning, that made me a bit nervous. I hadn’t worked for many months and I had a bit of an impostor syndrome when I started again. When I didn’t get the reactions that I was used to from the US, I thought, oh god, they hate it, they don’t think I’m very good – and maybe they’re not going to come back! But six weeks later, they are back and say: ‘That was one of the best haircuts I’ve ever had, I would like to do the same thing again.

Overall, I really love the city. I live close to the center, in Nijmegen Oost, and it’s very lovely and walkable. I can walk to work in ten minutes and bike there in under three. And the city is also very historical. My partner is a historian, so we like to geek out about the history aspect.

The one thing I do miss is over-the-counter medication. If you have a cold or the flu and you want something more than Paracetamol, it’s difficult. Of course, I can live without it. But especially if you know that a specific medication would help, it’s hard to not be able to have that."

Studying & working in Nijmegen

Nijmegen has a lot to offer in terms of studying, working and business. The oldest city in The Netherlands is also one of the largest student cities in the country. The city presents itself as a leading global player in solving social issues and problems. With its significant position in the Health & High Tech sector, Nijmegen belongs to the international top when it comes to improving the quality of life, healthcare and the development of high-quality technology for various social applications.

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