Expat life in Nijmegen: Elna, Germany

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 Elna Schmidt from Germany...

‘I moved to Nijmegen in 2018, probably out of the most cliché reasons a German could move to Nijmegen: to study Psychology. At the moment, I’m doing a research master’s in Social & Cultural Science with a Political Science focus and I work part-time.

The first time I visited Nijmegen was for the open day at Radboud. I stayed at the Prince Hotel in the Lange Hezelstraat. You can’t go wrong with that, it’s probably the nicest part of the city. Now I’m still here and I like it. No, actually, I love Nijmegen by now.

Mostly, it’s Nijmegen’s vibe. I work in Eindhoven, and I’ve been to Den Bosch, and Utrecht, and Amsterdam. Those are all nice places, but there is just something about Nijmegen. It’s silly, but the city’s motto is really on point: old city, young vibe.

One of the places I love taking visitors to the most is probably Opoe Sientje, which is a boat bar. It’s wonderful. They have good food, good drinks, and nice coffee. In Germany, a place like this would never exist. It’s three boats tied together, and you can fall off the boat in fifteen different places. Germans would have put a two-meter fence around it by now.

Something I think international students should be aware of is that it's really hard to find a job if you don’t speak Dutch. I think it’s impossible to build a proper life here without speaking the language.

I speak Dutch pretty well by now, and it opens things up for you. You don’t notice it if you don’t speak Dutch, but you miss out on the casual chit-chat without it. If you don’t speak the language, you never get out of your bubble. You only get to interact with people your age.

But one of my favorite Dutch things to do is this: you have to go to the snackbar and look at the snacks and ask yourself: who came up with deep-frying all of those things? And then you get your fries and your snack – choose a snack you don’t know – and then go to the river to eat your fries and your snack. If you then also bike to the Waal, it’s a full-on Dutch experience.’

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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