Expat life in Nijmegen: Giulia, Italy

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 Giulia from Italy...

"After my master’s in Italy, I wanted to leave the country and secure a future somewhere else. Because of that, I was looking into ways to specialize more and found the master’s in Human Geography at Radboud University.

I have since graduated and am now working in Nijmegen. Next to my work, I’m also writing for the magazine Raffia and I’m collaborating with the NGO COC Nederland, where I’m working with LGBTQ+ asylum seekers, organizing workshops and debates, but also informative meetings about human rights and sexual minority rights.

Some Dutch people might say that Nijmegen isn’t very international, but I think, as an international, you have your international bubble and there are a lot of social activities going on. And, also politically speaking, I think Nijmegen is an interesting place to be. It’s very left-wing and one of the anarchist cities in the Netherlands, which is why I chose to stay here because I really like this environment.

Of course, if you’re an international, you have a lot of small culture shocks. However, something I appreciate about the Netherlands is its work culture. Even teenagers in high school often work. You would think that in a country as wealthy as the Netherlands, people don’t really need to work from such a young age, but it’s quite the opposite. They consider work to be one of the founding values of their culture, and this was very surprising and is something I appreciate about the culture.

Something that I am, however, struggling with is what level of assimilation I’m willing to accept for myself. The Netherlands depicts itself as a country that is very English-friendly – which is true. It’s a very international country. But at the same time, when you come here, you will find out that, without knowing Dutch, there are a lot of limitations when it comes to the job market and your social life.

I feel like a lot of international students and workers expect that they will never be expected to learn Dutch, but then they arrive here and find out that that can be a problem. I’ve been learning Dutch from the beginning, but I would have appreciated if the importance of knowing Dutch beforehand would have been more explicit."

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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