‘We had 013 engraved in our wedding rings’: World couple Bas and Nikki share their love story
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. From southern Limburg to Tilburg for your studies. And from working and traveling in Australia to putting down roots in Amsterdam. Bas and Nikki Hamers look back on their days as students in Tilburg, where they found love, and on their adventures in the years that followed.
In 2004, Bas and Nikki started their studies at Tilburg University. Bas studied Econometrics, Nikki chose Law. “There were as many as eight people from my secondary school class who went to Tilburg,” Nikki remembers. “We kept in touch as a group: we had lunch, drinks, or dinner together.” Sjoerd was one of Nikki’s former classmates; he lived in the same student accommodation as Bas, in Alleenhouderstraat. Nikki: “Bas came along with Sjoerd now and then, so we saw each other more and more often. Bas came home with me one night and stayed over. I wasn’t very serious about it all, but Bas was quite persistent.” Bas grins: “I thought to myself: I’m not letting her go.” There were a few more dates and it wasn’t long before they were officially a couple.
“We didn’t know that we had actually crossed paths before,” Nikki states. When she brought Bas home for the first time to meet her parents, they discovered that their fathers used to be colleagues. It turned out that they had even met by chance before, during a holiday, in a parking lot in Italy, when Bas and Nikki were approximately ten years old. Nikki: “We remember nothing about this, but it is a striking coincidence all the same!”
“I always rode my bike with a map on the handlebars; Google Maps didn’t exist. But I always lost my way in Tilburg
Getting lost in Tilburg
Bas and Nikki look back on their days as students in Tilburg. Galas, beer cantuses, and student associations succeed each other. As does the student accommodation where Bas used to live, that was so filthy that even the cleaner refused to come back. “In the first weeks, Nikki did not know how to get from the train station to Anna Paulownahof and therefore always took a train taxi home,” Bas laughs. “I came from southern Limburg to Tilburg and had never traveled by public transport,” Nikki admits. “I always rode my bike with a map on the handlebars; Google Maps didn’t exist. But I always lost my way in Tilburg. Bas taught me how to use public transport.”
Working in Australia
When Bas and Nikki were in their late 20s, they got increasingly many invitations to weddings and baby showers. They themselves were not ready to settle down. “Bas had lived in Paris for his studies and I had lived in Brussels for my work. We wanted to have a foreign adventure together,” Nikki explains. “When we received invitations to weddings or joint skiing holidays, we always replied that we were not sure if we could make it. That became a little awkward so we set each other an ultimatum: if one of us finds a job abroad, that is where we will go. Bas was the first to strike gold so, in 2014, we left for Australia.”
We loved traveling, but thought it was a shame to buy more than 20 plane tickets. We were without a home and without jobs and we had all the time in the world.
The couple worked and lived in Brisbane for two and a half years and then in Sydney for another two and a half. After that period, they traveled through Australia and New Zealand. Then they gradually journeyed back to the Netherlands, traveling over land as much as possible to minimize the need to fly. Bas: “We loved traveling, but thought it was a shame to buy more than 20 plane tickets. We were without a home and without jobs and we had all the time in the world. So we flew to Bali and then traveled by train and ferry to Bangkok. Via Hongkong, we flew to Bangladesh, from where we took the train to India. We crossed the border into Pakistan on foot and flew to Uzbekistan. Took the boat to Azerbaijan, and then all the way over land to Georgia and Turkey. And then we were back in Europe.”
Tilburg, Amsterdam, and Australia
The couple are now living in Amsterdam, together with their son and dog. Bas works as a finance director at Harvest Waste and Nikki as an EU Site Operations Manager at Lemonade. They have been together for seventeen years now, six of which as a married couple. In their wedding rings, three symbols are engraved: "013" for their meeting in Tilburg, three crosses to represent Amsterdam where they went to live, and the outline of Australia, that stands for their travels together before they got married.
Date of publication: 29 January 2024