Expat life in Nijmegen: Janek Peters, 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 Janek Peters from Germany...

"I am currently doing a PhD in Neuroscience at the Donders Institute. However, I moved to the city years ago for my bachelor’s. It was more or less a coincidence that I joined one of my friends for the Radboud Open Day, back when I was thinking about where to study.

I compared the science faculty here with that in my hometown Düsseldorf in Germany and the architecture and overall atmosphere just convinced me. And Radboud offered a bachelor’s in Medical Biology, which didn’t exist in Germany.

My bachelor’s was in Dutch and I think I underestimated the language at the beginning. You assume that it’s very similar to German because the languages are so closely related. So, during my first year, I was confronted with the fact that Dutch is its own language. In the beginning, especially joking or socializing in Dutch was difficult – all the spontaneous things that you don’t really think about when you speak your mother language.

What helped with learning the language was probably studying in it. Studying in Dutch was easier than socializing because professors speak very clearly and there are PowerPoint slides with information. It also helped that I was required to take the NT2 exam before the bachelor’s: you have to study Dutch very intensely during the corresponding course for five or six weeks and that gives you a solid basis you can build on.

Comparing Nijmegen to Düsseldorf, I have to say, I don’t miss living in a big city. It’s more anonymous and people don’t put in as much effort into being nice to each other. In Nijmegen, you are more likely to run into people you know and it is way less grey and loud. I do, however, sometimes miss speaking German – and the bread, of course.

One of my favorite memories from Nijmegen happened during my bachelor’s. A friend of mine and I went to the Waal beach together – him with his guitar, me with the saxophone – and we started playing there. After a while, a herd of wild horses came and had a look at what we were doing up close – and at a certain point, a young man joined us and sang. That was a very good day."

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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