Expat life in Nijmegen: Gleb, Russia

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 Gleb Schmidt from Russia...

"I am originally from Saint Petersburg and came to Nijmegen almost two years ago from Paris, where I had studied for my master’s and my Ph.D. Right now, I’m working in a postdoctoral position in Medieval manuscript studies at Radboud University. Considering that I have lived in big cities my whole life, moving to a small city like Nijmegen was not an obvious choice. But, unexpectedly to myself, I like living here very much.

Nijmegen is a peculiar place – and that resonates with me. Because of the university, there are many people from different backgrounds and countries, which creates a lively atmosphere. Nijmegen is a small city with the atmosphere of a metropolis. Nijmegen is also, culturally, the center of a Catholic region in a predominantly Protestant country. It is very traditional in some ways but progressive in others. And I think because of that, people from very different backgrounds can fare here very well.

I grew up in a culture in Russia that is quite conservative, a little façade-oriented, and very formal. Dutch culture strikes me for its clarity and frankness, but not in a bad sense. I think it saves a lot of energy and you can rely on what people say.

My experience as a Russian person after the war broke out, for example, has been that this is not the best time to be a Russian. When the war broke out, I attended a small manifestation against the war and gave a speech to condemn the decision of the Russian government and state my solidarity with Ukraine. Afterward, I was approached by a Dutch couple, and the conversation with them was one of the most memorable of my life.

They told me very frankly that their primordial thoughts and emotions were against me because I’m Russian, but then they said this is precisely why they decided to talk to me. It was a genuine willingness to understand and challenge your automatic thoughts, your simplistic ideas.

I think that this arises out of a rare combination of Dutch culture in general and the local atmosphere in Nijmegen in particular. And it makes Nijmegen an outstanding place. People looking for a change in their life can embrace something new in a friendly way here. Nijmegen doesn’t impose much and that is what makes it special."

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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