Love stories Tilburg University

‘Made in Vietnam’: Sanne and Robin found each other abroad

Love story 3 min. Swaans Communicatie

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. The love between Sanne Geelen (30) and Robin van Duijn (34) blossomed abroad during a student project. But it wasn’t a short-lived holiday romance by any means. From their very first date, in Vietnam, they were inseparable. They got married this summer.

Sanne, who is from the village of Someren, moved to Tilburg in 2010 for her International Business Administration studies. After that, she took a Master’s in Marketing Management. Robin studied Commercial Economics in Rotterdam and came to Tilburg in 2011 for the pre-Master’s and Master’s programs of Marketing Management. 

The International Experience

Since Robin had to finish a couple of courses from his pre-Master’s, he decided to gain some  management experience. “The International Experience was a project that immediately appealed to me. The objective was to do some volunteer work in a developing country, in our case Vietnam. It was quite a large and intensive project. For a whole year, we were busy organizing, raising funds, and taking training sessions. Finally we left to spend three weeks in Vietnam. As the president, I coordinated the entire project.”

Sanne heard about the project and wanted to participate. “You couldn’t just join. You had to apply,” she remembers, laughing. “If I had not been accepted at the time, I wouldn’t have been here doing this interview today!”

Robin climbed on a chair to welcome everybody as the president. Wow, I thought.

The first butterflies

Sanne remembers she fancied Robin almost immediately. “The first time that we got together with all project members, we went out for dinner; that was still in the Netherlands. Robin climbed on a chair to welcome everybody as the president. Wow, I thought. He was super confident and his attitude was so pleasant; that appealed to me a lot. But we only got to really know each other in Vietnam. In the Netherlands, Robin was so busy organizing the whole thing that he did not have the time to pay much attention to me yet,” she smiles.

Can you feel the love tonight

So it was not until they were in Vietnam that they hit it off. “We were volunteering during the day,” Robin says, “such as cooking meals in an orphanage, teaching English in school, creating curricula, that kind of thing. One evening we found each other in a backpackers bar together with a few other members of our group, and there Sanne and I had our first long talk. That felt good, right from the start. Not much later, we had our first kiss.”

“Well, that news spread through the group like wildfire, of course,” Robin continues with a grin. “To tease the group a little, the two of us decided, when we were all together in a karaoke bar, to sing Can you feel the love tonight. That was a fun moment!”

Sanne en Robin

I think our first date lasted till five in the morning

Adventurous first date

Their first official date was a few days later, Robin tells. “First, two Vietnamese took us to a live music bar on their motor scooters. We also took a ride in a rickshaw, but we did not really like it. In the end, we visited different bars, spent some time in a park, strolled around for hours, talking all the time. I think that date lasted till five in the morning.”

Laughing hard

Once they were back in the Netherlands, their love proved strong. Sanne: “Our first date in Tilburg was soon after the one in Vietnam. We both lived in digs, so we got to spend a lot of time together. Also on the campus. We often sat on the grass near the fountain behind the restaurant, spent time studying in the library or having lunch together. It all went pretty fast, but it felt instantly familiar. We could talk for hours, and also laugh very hard.” 

Robin adds: “We shared many interests, such as traveling and music. Yes, it felt right for us, from the very beginning. Sanne was really sweet and such a nice person to be around, I felt completely at ease with her.” With a wink: “And of course she is wildly attractive!”

Sanne en Robin

Two study mates who went to Vietnam with us were also at the wedding. That was quite special.

From Tilburg to Utrecht

And now, exactly ten years later, the two are still as happy together as they were then. “We have made beautiful trips together in the past few years and we have lived in Utrecht for six years now,” Robin says. He works as a marketer at Deloitte and Sanne is an office manager at consultancy agency iPM Partners and also teaches yoga. “And we got married last June. Two study mates who went to Vietnam with us were also at the wedding. That was quite special. They referred to that time in the speeches. ‘Made in Vietnam,’ they said.”

Fantastic time as students

Robin and Sanne have warm feelings about their time as students in Tilburg. “I had a great time in Tilburg,” Robin says. “I was in various committees and boards, was a member of different associations. To develop myself and gain experience, but also just because it was fun. I went to a lot of parties and made friends for life. It really was a fantastic experience.” The same goes for Sanne. “We both enjoyed our time as students enormously. I think we both made the most of it. And of course our special story is the cherry on the cake.”

 I can only recommend prospective students to go to Tilburg

Good memories of Tilburg

Robin and Sanne are not often in Tilburg, but when they are, they feel right at home. Robin: “It is nice to be here now and then and walk around the city. After all, we have lived here for five years and we have very good memories of this place. I can only recommend prospective students to go to Tilburg: it is a great student city, nice and compact, and with a pleasant nightlife. And the city is becoming more and more attractive. Yes, I still have a soft spot for Tilburg.”

Do you have a Tilburg University love story too?

Did you meet the love of your life at Tilburg University? Did sparks fly immediately? Or did it take a little longer for your feelings to grow? 

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Date of publication: 22 December 2023