New in Nijmegen (3): Rojina Duwal

03 Sep 2019

Last week, a lot of international students arrived in Nijmegen for their orientation week. Rojina Duwal is one of them. 'Someone had to violently wave at me before I realised he was letting me cross the road.’

Rojina Duwal (24) is wearing pyjama pants with Tigger patterns. She curls up on a chair, pulling her feet up to her body. Her right ankle is wrapped in a peach coloured compression bandage, a state it’s been in for a week. ‘It happened when I was carrying my luggage down the stairs to my room.’

She points to a red suitcase on top of a shelf. Twenty-nine kilos, just under the flight company limit. She twisted and sprained her ankle and has since been confined to her basement-level room.

The room is poorly lit and the presumably old carpet gives out a musty smell which fills the tiny space. Before coming to the Netherlands, Duwal had no idea that her room would be underground. ‘I asked the housing company to see some pictures beforehand, but they only referred me to their website with a few pictures, none of which were close to the room I was offered.’ Another, generally less acute issue, is the lack of freezers. ‘To reach the only freezer around I had to climb stairs, walk outside and then through the central kitchen, where I could get ice for my ankle,’ she says.

Peaceful and quiet
Despite being obviously bored and frustrated with her forced idleness, Duwal has had some time before the injury to get around the city. She came to Nijmegen in mid-August and stayed with a friend before being able to move into her current apartment. ‘My first impression of the city is that it is really clean’, she repeats several times.

‘It’s so peaceful and quiet. No horns honking all the time, people are disciplined in traffic. The other day a guy stopped for me at a crosswalk. I was so confused and didn’t know what was happening, he had to violently wave at me before I realised he was letting me cross.’

In Kathmandu, where Duwal is from, she usually gets around on a scooter. Riding in the city, the polluted air would paint her face black. The contrast is something she highlights, and she praises the clean air here. But there are trade-offs, of course. ‘Moving to Europe’s flattest country, I will definitely miss the mountains where I would go trekking for several days, every semester break’.

Lost on campus
In Nijmegen, however, she was recently exposed to another type of trekking. ‘I got lost on campus trying to find my way and ended up walking in circles for 15 minutes. There were no signs in English, which on the big campus grounds made it all the more difficult to navigate.’

Duwal was trying to find her way to Radboud medical center, which is partly hosting her master’s program in Molecular mechanisms of disease. Getting accepted into the program was a feat in itself, but coming from a background of Biotechnology, she thinks she should manage just fine.

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