Expat life in Nijmegen: Hanna-Rea, Estonia

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 Hanna-Rea from Estonia...

"I’m originally from Estonia, but I have known since 10th grade that I wanted to study abroad. Originally, I was planning to go to England, but because of Brexit, that became too difficult and expensive. So, I started looking into studying abroad in the Netherlands. Funnily enough, initially, Nijmegen and Radboud University weren’t even on my list.

When I applied to universities, I worked with an agency that, for example, helped transcribe my Estonian grades into Dutch grades – and they suggested Radboud. So, I looked into the study more and ultimately decided that Nijmegen would be a better place for me than Tilburg, where I had planned to go.

I’m now at the beginning of my second year of studying Psychology at Radboud. I would say that I didn’t get out to the city that much during my first year. I lived in Vossenveld, which is a bit far off, but I managed to explore some more since I moved closer to the city center this year. Right now, my favorite place to hang out is the CoffeeLab, close to the station. It’s the perfect place to drink a coffee, maybe get something to eat, and study.

Culturally, I think Estonians and the Dutch are quite similar. I didn’t have a huge culture shock moving to the Netherlands. I had to get used to biking under any weather conditions, though, and the sirens at the beginning of the month. But I think that both the Dutch and Estonians don’t open up right away – until you get to know us.

Maybe there is one difference that I did notice. Estonians are always called very cold; we hold back our emotions. Who knows, maybe it’s because of the cold weather. Here, instead, you can pass a person on the street and they smile and say hello. Back home, I’m not used to looking at people. You do your own thing; you have this sort of tunnel vision.

And there are some differences when it comes to the food. I miss some Eastern European food. This is a very specific example, but we have a lot of variety in cottage cheese. I tried the cottage cheese here – it’s simply not the same. At home, we have this one specific cottage cheese, with salted cucumber and dill, that I love. But, on the upside, the hummus selection in the Netherlands is simply great."

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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