Love stories Tilburg University

Studying together in a pandemic: Marieke and Andrei shared a Bachelor’s and found love

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. In 2019, Marieke van der Pol (27) and Andrei Oprea (22) both started the Bachelor’s program in Cognitive Science – Artificial Intelligence at Tilburg University. After Marieke’s long-term relationship had broken down, Andrei was there for her with a shoulder to lean on, and their friendship soon blossomed into more.

Their relationship weathered their student days in Tilburg as well as the Covid-19 pandemic, and they are still together. Marieke looks back.

When Marieke started at Tilburg University, she had been in a relationship with an Englishman for about four years. “It ended a few weeks after I’d started in Tilburg. I found it hard to cope and I was very distressed,” Marieke relates. “I would cry in between classes, but my classmates were really sweet and understanding; they really supported me. That’s quite special, because we had all just started at university and we didn’t know each other that well. It says a lot about the atmosphere; students in Tilburg are very sociable.” Looking to grow her social network, Marieke frequented student events. “I’ve made many international friends in my studies, for example from Italy, Norway, Estonia, Romania, Germany, and Australia, and one of them in particular I saw quite a lot: Andrei from Romania.”

Marieke en Andrei

In the lockdowns we were basically living in each other’s pockets. That was a good relationship test.

Support begets romance

Marieke and Andrei often spoke between classes, and after a while they started seeing each other outside of classes, too. Marieke: “It felt really good to spend time together, and we soon become more than friends. In a way, it was funny that emotional support proved a superhighway to a new relationship. Our classmates quickly got used to us being an item and coming to class together.”

In the pandemic, too, Marieke and Andrei took classes together. “It was actually really nice to take the same program together,” Marieke says. “We would usually ‘go’ to online classes together, and in the lockdowns we were basically living in each other’s pockets. That was a good relationship test, but it was also fun and we were able to help each other because we each have different strong points. Andrei is very good at practical applications of math and at analytical thinking, whereas connecting the dots is my thing. That’s how we complemented each other when studying.”

Living together

In the early stages of their relationship, Marieke spent a lot of time at Andrei’s, who was renting a room in student accommodation in Tilburg. In the pandemic, the couple often met at Marieke’s parents’ place, in a village near the city of Eindhoven. They had more room there and that was a welcome respite in the lockdowns, when everyone had to stay home as much as possible. Andrei has since ended his lease and they are now living in a studio of their own on Marieke’s parents’ property. Marieke: “That’s convenient, because it’s closer to Eindhoven, where are now both doing the Master’s program in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence.”

We like living in the Netherlands, but going abroad is certainly on the table

The future

The couple have yet to graduate. What does their future look like? “Once we have finished our Master’s, we eventually want to get a job,” Marieke says. “But we’re flexible about what kind of work we’d do and where we’d do it. We like living in the Netherlands, but going abroad is certainly on the table. Romania is an option; it’s where Andrei is from. Or Switzerland. Time will tell.”

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? 

Send an email to:

Let us know!  

Date of publication: 24 April 2023