Expat life in Nijmegen: Mirell, 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 Mirell Leskov from Estonia...

"I’ve been living in Nijmegen for a year now, but I’m in my third year at Radboud University, where I study Comparative European History. My family moved from Estonia to Kleve in Germany when I was in high school, so I attended school in Arnhem and lived with my parents for the first two years of uni. 

Something that I noticed when moving to Nijmegen was definitely the paperwork. The bureaucracy in Germany is notoriously complicated and the paperwork here is so much easier. In Estonia, everything can be done online, in Germany, almost everything requires literal paperwork – and the Netherlands is somewhere in the middle.

Culturally, Estonia and the Netherlands are actually not that different from one another. Back at home, we are also very closed off until you get to know us. And Estonians are also fairly straightforward – maybe not as much as Dutch people tend to be, but it’s not something that startled me when I moved here. One big difference though is the weather. Estonia is much colder than the Netherlands – and less rainy.

Moving here definitely made me realize that Nijmegen is much bigger than the campus and the city center. But as a history student, I still have a soft spot for the historical center. I like the old vibes of the center and the busyness of it. I’m an avid reader, so my favorite spot is Dekker van de Vegt – I absolutely love that bookshop. But I also really like the Cafe in de Blaauwe Hand, cozily tucked away in a little corner of the center. I think that’s very cute.

When I started university in 2020, I did not expect to find as many good friends as I did. That was probably the biggest surprise. You spent a relatively short time at university, if you compare it to, for example, high school or your career. I was expecting to have acquaintances, people I would talk to, but then you go your separate ways. 

Instead, I found a lot of friends and I think that we will stay in touch with each other for a very long time. This is probably also part of having a smaller study and a smaller university. You really notice people; you don’t just pass them by. And, at least right now, it seems very likely that I will stay at Radboud for my master’s after graduation as well."

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.

Discover more

Do you also want to tell your expat story?

You can apply via this form if you work in Nijmegen, or via this form if you study in Nijmegen.