Blossoming love between different student association members: Divided loyalties?
Many loves have their origins on campus, though not all of them last. Some campus couples are still together to this day. Towards the university's 100th anniversary, we collect their love stories. Anne (40) studied Human Resource Studies at Tilburg University and joined student association Plato, Hein (38) opted for International Business and Olof. Not an obvious match perhaps, but perhaps it was all written in the stars? The two have been together for eighteen years now, eight of which as a married couple. Olivier (6), Zoë (4), and Josefien (18 months) have made their family complete.
As a rule, the parties of the various student associations are strictly separate. But there are exceptions. For instance, Olof, Plato, Vidar are united in a foundation called Stichting Overleg Tilburgse Studentenverenigingen (SOTS). The executive committee consists of members from the three constituent student associations. As a member of that committee, Anne was involved, among other things, in organizing the annual SOTS party in 2006. And so was a fellow member of Hein’s fraternity: “They were looking for someone to design a website and a poster to promote the SOTS party. And I fit the bill. So I was in touch with Anne now and then. I remember that I liked her authenticity. I thought she was very beautiful anyway, and her self-confidence made her even more attractive.”
A good match
During the SOTS party, Hein invited Anne to a fraternity party at Olof’s. It was in fact a kind of first date, which included dinner at Koningshoeven Abbey of La Trappe fame, but also in the company of all his fraternity members. “At the party we kissed for the first time,” Hein glows. Two days later, the two went on a proper date: a walk in the Tilburg Leijpark followed by lunch. “It was fun, right from the start,” Anne remembers, “we got to know each other a lot better.” Hein adds: “We also discovered surprising things about each other. It didn’t come as a surprise that we are both real party animals. But our shared love of carnival was! Anne is from Twente, in the east of the country, and I did not know that carnival was celebrated enthusiastically there as well. She even played the saxophone in a brass band. I myself played in a carnival band, as a clarinettist.”
We worked hard and enjoyed life. Together but also separate from each other.
A testing time
The two soon became very close. However, the start of their relationship was a testing time. Hein: “I shattered my knee in a stupid accident. I was in a wheelchair and had to move back to my parents for a while. Anne soon became one of the family as a result.”
Both alumni managed to get the most out of their time as students. Including studying abroad, board years, side jobs as a student-assistant, and traveling. Separate from each other: he at Olof, she at Plato. There was some covert competition between the two associations in the background after all.
Enthusiastic association members
Anne: “We were both rather active and enthusiastic members of our separate associations. For instance, I helped when Plato moved from Sint-Josephstraat to Akademeia on Schouwburgring in 2007. We worked hard and enjoyed life. Together but also separate from each other. We really had to organize dates to spend some time together. Sometimes that meant studying together or going to open parties at one of the associations. I could take Hein everywhere: he can enjoy himself in any environment.” Hein smiles: “My fellow senate members sometimes called me ‘Plato’s sleeper agent’. But I had to take Anne to Olof now and again and accompany her to Plato, just so we could see each other.”
“Between our board years, we traveled a lot – apart from each other. Sometimes months passed without us seeing each other,” Anne continues. “We gave each other a lot of freedom in what we wanted to do. We still do, actually. I think that makes us strong as a couple. We both have healthy ambitions and a life of our own. We have never held each other back. It helps that we are both interested in the same things, and still are, so then you understand what what the other is doing. Because of all those testing experiences, we both knew what the other was made of, and that we were cool together.”
Now everything is on the internet in no time. Maybe we should just be glad that that wasn't possible back then.
Enjoying life as a student
The couple have great memories of their time in Tilburg. “We enjoyed our lives as students to the brim,” Hein confirms. “It was a different time than it is now, though. We still had student grants. And no smartphone. Now everything is on the internet in no time. Maybe we should just be glad that that wasn't possible back then .” Still, Hein does not feel that they did not take their studies seriously. “It took me 6.5 years to complete my program, but that was including studying abroad and a board year. Besides, we got good grades and enough credits.”
Soon after graduation, Anne and Hein decided to leave Tilburg. “Everyone we knew was moving to Amsterdam,” Anne remembers. “It felt like the right time to round off our period in Tilburg. I was able to rent an appartment in Amsterdam together with a friend and I started applying for jobs.” They both participated in a management traineeship at a large company: he at ABN Amro, she at Delta Lloyd. Anne: “In fact, that was a kind of extended student time, an opportunity to meet many people, many of whom were new to the city as well.”
As student association members, you study, work, and party intensively together, so you get to know each other faster and more intimately. And so you make friends for life.
Life continues to be fun
The family now live in Weesp. With at least three former study mates and fellow student association members within walking distance. “We may no longer be living in Tilburg, but a large part of our circles of friends from Tilburg have made a similar move around the country. We still regularly see former Plato and Olof members. As student association members, you study, work, and party intensively together, so you get to know each other faster and more intimately. And so you make friends for life.” Of course they all showed up in January 2024 when Anne celebrated her 40th birthday with an Oktoberfest-style party. “At our request, everybody dressed up in dirndl or lederhosen. Our love of theme and costume parties is still very much alive. It was just like a party from our student days!”
Also in Tilburg University Magazine
Date of publication: 6 February 2024