Expat life in Nijmegen: Masha, Ukraine

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 Masha from Ukraine...

"I moved to the Netherlands on the 12th of May 2017. I remember the day, because it divided my life into a ‘before’ and an ‘after.’ I was born and raised in a small town in Ukraine, with around 30,000 people. Nijmegen has a similar vibe. You can find everything you might need here, it’s a well-connected city, but it’s – except during the 4Daagse – a quiet place.

In Ukraine, I wasn’t fitting in well. My mother is Hungarian, so we always spoke Hungarian at home and I was always the outcast of the group. When I came to Nijmegen, I felt like I wasn’t home, but I’m okay with it. It’s not my original home, it’s okay to not fit in.

If you had asked me when I first moved to Nijmegen about the cultural differences, I would have said: ‘Everything!’ But the most prominent difference is the food. Dutch people eat to live, like fuel for a car. But for me, food is more important than that. It blew my mind when I found out about canned sausages. Why would you do something like that?

Right now, I’m active in a project with Rotarykmc.care, in which we provide baby carriers to Ukrainian hospitals. Since the war started, there have been a lot of premature babies in Ukraine. Now imagine a mother at the hospital with her baby and the air force alarm goes off and everyone needs to go to the shelter. Imagine there is a mother who had a c-section and who needs to carry the baby, but also water and some snacks, to survive in the basement for who knows how long.

Since we started the project, around 10,000 of our carriers have gone to 17 different hospitals in Ukraine. So now, the tiny, premature babies are going to be safe with their mothers and the mothers can still carry bags with necessities. And when they are released from the hospital, they can take the carriers back home with them.

If I could give one piece of advice to everyone who comes to live in the Netherlands, it would be: learn the language. I find it awful to imagine just for a second that a Ukrainian cannot speak Ukrainian in Ukraine because of foreign people who don’t even care a little. So, if you live here, learn a bit of Dutch. It will make people happy."

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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