Expat life in Nijmegen: Ken, Belgium

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 Ken from Belgium...

"I moved to Nijmegen in January 2018 and I’m working here as a journalist. Originally, I’m from the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. But before moving to the Netherlands, I lived in Brussels for seven years. My girlfriend, who is originally from Nijmegen, got a job offer at Radboud University after completing her PhD in Brussels, so you could say that I moved to the city for love.

One positive surprise about the city was the cycling culture. Of course, I already knew that Nijmegen is a great place to cycle. In Brussels, you risk your life doing that. When I cycled with my girlfriend in Nijmegen in the beginning, I always stayed behind her. The bike lane was so wide that I thought, maybe that’s because cyclists are coming from the other side as well. But, of course, there is another just-as-wide bike lane on the other side of the street that goes in the other direction. So that’s a positive difference. But I am still hesitant to cycle side by side.

However, Nijmegen is definitely less international than Brussels. When I take the bus or the subway, I always like to count how many different languages I encounter on a single ride. In Brussels, that’s five, six, seven. In Nijmegen, it’s a lot of Dutch, some English – some German if you get lucky. And what comes with that more international environment, of course, is that in Brussels, you have all the kitchens of the world in one city. The eating culture here is different.

But, of course, there are also some nice places to eat in Nijmegen. One place where I like to go is Pizzacafé DESEM, where they have really nice pizzas made with special flour. And I like going to Anushka. It’s a small shop where you can find nice ingredients, but also Armenian street food. And, of course, I like to go to the Saturday market to buy some fresh vegetables, cheese and fish.

Even though my mother language is Dutch, when I go to the hairdresser here or when I go to a shop, people still sometimes think I’m a tourist. Once or twice, they even thought I was German. So, yeah, I speak Dutch, but differently than they are used to. I think it’s the pronunciation – and in Flemish, some phrases are direct translations from French."

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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