‘Watching Temptation Island together was a guilty pleasure’
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. Angela van de Voorde and Sten Nouwens were introduced to each other by a mutual friend during a night out at café Bolle in March 2000. They fell in love there and then. And now – after more than 23 years together, married for 18 – the two of them are still very happy together.
Angela – a first-year Information Management student – was out on her own that night. The friend with whom she usually went out wasn’t feeling very well, but Angela did feel like going out. “I met an acquaintance, someone from Zeelandic Flanders, like me. He introduced me to Sten, who was in his final year of Policy and Governance.” Her eyes twinkle. “I was struck by his open, cheerful attitude and positive energy.” According to Sten, it was a mutual coup de foudre. “We instantly felt at ease with each other. And that is still the case, by the way!” After a week, he gave her a call – she was already getting a bit impatient – to ask her out on a date. That same night, they had dinner together, in a restaurant beside Heuvelse Kerk.
Watching tacky series together, that was our guilty pleasure
In the next three months, they got to know each other better. After the summer, they were practically inseparable. Either he was at her room or she at his. “It was the time of reality tv shows like Big Brother, De Bus, and Temptation Island. Watching those tacky series together, that was our guilty pleasure,” Angela laughs. “Just crashing on the couch, let your mind go blank, and be amazed by the people who participate in these kinds of shows.”
Getting to know Tilburg
As a first-year student, Angela, a girl from Zeeland in the big city, preferred discovering Tilburg to going to lectures. “In that sense, I was really Sten’s opposite. He was always very diligent, never missed a class and got super high grades.” She nevertheless enjoyed her studies. “My study group were very close; they were my world. Information Management was a small-scale program: there were about 80 of us, only five of them girls. It was a broad program, in a time of emerging technologies in different areas. For instance, Netscape, Internet Explorer’s predecessor, was all the rage.”
Parents at a young age
When Angela was in her third year, she became pregnant. “We were the first in both our groups of friends who had a baby. We wanted to be parents at a young age. I still see the benefits, both physically and mentally. Moreover, we had been together for two years. I was 23, Sten 28. He had a steady job and we had a home of our own. So it wasn’t rash or anything. People – especially of the older generation – said to me: ‘What a shame about your studies!’, but my studies didn’t suffer at all.”
When Ivar was one week old, I went back to my internship work, partly from home
An internship with a baby
Son Ivar was born in February 2005. Angela reminisces: “I was graduating and did an internship at a comprehensive school in Den Bosch. As a student, I wasn’t entitled to parental leave. My internship employer, of course, knew I was pregnant. I only took a short time off. Exactly on time: Ivar was born in the first week after I stopped working. Everything went really well with both of us and Ivar was an easy baby. When he was one week old, I went back to my internship work, partly from home. Sometimes I took the baby to work. He would be in my office in the Maxi-Cosi. My brother-in-law also helped. We had lots of support from both our families. Financially I wasn’t entitled to anything, so I didn’t want to incur study delay. Looking back, it was indeed special; it would be unthinkable today.” Two and a half years later, Ivar got a baby sister: Ella. She will be sixteen this year. Angela smiles: “When I was pregnant with her, I was up against a wall. Suddenly, I had nothing to do for sixteen weeks! That just wasn’t me.”
A good choice of program
Angela graduated in September 2005, and of course Sten and six-month-old Ivar attended the defense. On November 1, she started working for Capgemini and continues to work there today. “My program focused on the helicopter view: keeping an overview and bridging the gap between developers and the business. That has always been incredibly helpful to me.” Sten also chose a good program: “I found it hard to choose between public administration and business administration. Governance is somewhere in between. So I did not have to choose and I still don’t. I found myself in the world of change management and fulfilled different roles, ranging from quality consultant to more commercial activities. In addition, I have been politically active since 2013, as a member of the city council and later also as the chairman of a local network. I find that combination both fascinating and instructive.”
Our family shares the same passion for traveling
Discovering the world together
The family like to travel. “We share the same passion,” says Sten enthusiastically. “Before Ivar turned five – and compulsory education started – the three of us made a wonderful trip around the world. In five weeks, we traveled via Los Angeles, Fiji, and New Zealand to the Great Wall of China.” And the traveling continued. “After his final exams, Ivar got to choose the next travel destination. He wanted to visit the jungle. So we made a round trip to Borneo, Malaysia, and Singapore. Really cool. And when our daughter finishes secondary education, she gets to choose a destination as well. She really wants to go to Japan. She is even learning some Japanese, so she can help us out when we get there,” Sten says proudly.
The couple are not ruling out the possibility that their children will opt for Tilburg University in the future. Sten: “Tilburg University’s charm is that it a very open academic environment, rather small-scale. We had a wonderful time there!”
Date of publication: 19 June 2023