Expat life in Nijmegen: Sanchitta, Bangladesh

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 Sanchitta from Bangladesh...

"You could say that I moved to Nijmegen for love. My husband got a job offer in the city, so I moved from Bangladesh to the Netherlands. But it wasn’t easy, especially in the beginning. In Bangladesh, I’m a dentist, but here, I need to get a BIG registration to practice as a dentist – and that requires a B2+ level of Dutch.

Right now, I’m in the process of learning Dutch, and I hope to get to a C1 level by the end of this year. But it’s a very long process. Getting the BIG registration will take me approximately two and a half more years.

So, when I first moved, I couldn’t work as a dentist, I didn’t have any friends here, and because it was in the middle of lockdown, I couldn’t go out either. I eventually did a master’s in Global Health at Maastricht University and met international and Dutch friends there. And now, I work as a dental assistant with my Bangladeshi degree. But initially, the move really took a toll on my mental health.

One of my favorite places in the city is the Face of Nijmegen statue. In the beginning, when I wasn’t feeling good, my husband and I went there, sat by the river, and drank tea. I still go there to meditate. You can sit by the river, looking at the city – I enjoy that.

Of course, I still miss Bangladeshi food, I miss my family and my friends, but I have settled. But there is one big cultural difference I noticed after Corona: when I went out and passed people – even if I didn’t know them – they always said ‘hi.’ That was very surprising to me. In my culture, if you don’t know someone, you don’t greet them on the street. But people are very friendly here.

If I could give one piece of advice to anyone coming here, especially if they work in the medical field, is to really learn Dutch before moving. If you’re an engineer, for example, the Netherlands is a great place to work. But in medicine, it’s challenging, if only because of the language."

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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