“Let’s just kiss this once tonight”
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. Jurgen and Paulien Jeurissen (both 52) an item? A no-brainer for their classmates, but Paulien and Jurgen themselves needed a bit longer to see the light and started out as friends. Until a kiss at a student party changed everything. Today they are happily married and the proud parents of two sons.
Jurgen and Paulien met in the fitness class at the university’s Sports Center in 1994. Paulien later joined Jurgen’s basketball team and they became friends. “We were living in the same part of town, so every night after practice we’d cycle back home together,” Paulien relates. “And cycling home, we chatted about everything. It felt natural. At some point, Jurgen would turn left and I would turn right, each to our own rooms. At the time, there was no romantic spark.”
Friends in love
“After about six months our friendship became a bit flirty,” Jurgen recalls. “I thought Paulien’s adventurous, positive, and spontaneous character was cool, and I wanted to get to know her better.” Paulien laughs: “Same here. With Jurgen, I could be myself and I felt really at ease with him. Even our friends said we’d be a good match. But I guess neither of us wanted to risk our friendship. One night, when we were having dinner at his place and we’d be going to the same student party later, I remember us joking about it: ‘If we are going to kiss tonight, it’ll be just this once.’ Of course, we kissed that night. And suddenly we were an item.”
Suddenly my plans in New York fell through and I had to look for another placement, which as luck would have it I found in Brussels
In the winter of 1995, Jurgen was going to go on placement to Brussels for six months for his Leisure Studies program, and Paulien would go to New York for her Economic Psychology studies. That’s why they agreed to keep their relationship open. Paulien: “But suddenly my plans in New York fell through and I had to look for another placement, which as luck would have it I found in Brussels. In the notorious city district of Schaarbeek, two one-person studios and one two-person flat had become available, on a floor housing many international students. That was an easy call, so I quickly said: ‘We’ll share the two-person flat!’” It’s Jurgen’s turn to laugh: “And what a dreadful flat it was! We only had one earthed socket so every day we had to choose: hot water or heating. And newspapers covered up the broken window. But we had great fun together and we became a real couple.”
I didn’t just go to the Sports Center to exercise, I also learned to drink Schrobbelèr there! Our student days were amazing and I wish for our sons to have an amazing time, too.
The right decision
Today, the couple are better off. Living in Barendrecht, they are the proud parents of two sons. Jurgen teaches sports marketing at Rotterdam University of applied sciences. “I had never expected to become a teacher, but an opportunity presented itself through the Leisure Studies alumni association. At the time, I was working for the city and was unhappy there, so this opportunity came at the right time and I went for it. In hindsight, I can only say it was the right decision.” Paulien is a commercial manager with a power company. “I manage the commercial activities in the consumer market and consumer behavior is a factor in what we do. That is a good match with my studies.”
It’s only recently that Paulien and Jurgen have started to look back on their student days more often, because their sons are now at college. “Their stories bring back memories of our student days, and of the Sports Center especially: that really felt like our place,” Jurgen says. Paulien whoops with laughter: “I didn’t just go there to exercise, I also learned to drink Schrobbelèr there! Our student days were amazing and I wish for our sons to have an amazing time, too.”
Date of publication: 9 November 2023