Picture this: it’s your first week at university as a Stirling student. You have four entire years of studying and partying ahead of you. The pages are still blank but the story is ready to be written. You walk down the busy halls of Cottrell, squeezing past the herd of students who are late to their seminar. You look at all of them and while you know it’s a silly thought, you can’t help but wonder whether somewhere among them also walks the love of your life. The university is big, after all, and your adventure has only just begun.
We’ve all been there.
When we first started university, we’ve all wondered what kind of people we would meet, and those that came to university single and ready to mingle also likely pondered whether this would finally be the place where they’d meet their significant other.
For this year’s Valentine’s Day, Brig reached out to some current and alumni Stirling University students who met their other half at the university and asked them to share their love stories and advice.
Colin and Jenny, 1971
It was the last night of their first year in 1971 when Colin met Jenny at a party.
Because Colin studied English and Education and played football, and Jenny studied Biology and was more into skiing and sailing, their paths didn’t cross again until the start of their fourth year.
“I was in Pathfoot at a disco,” Colin reminisced.
“I was happily standing at the bar, having a drink and a chat when I got a tap on the shoulder. I turned around to see a girl asking [me] if I was Colin. She said, ‘Jenny sent me over to see if you would come and rescue her. Some guy is being a pain and won’t leave her alone. She spotted you and sent me to speak to you.’ It took me a minute to twig that it was the same Jenny I had met, but not really seen for two years.”
Colin and Jenny started seeing each other shortly after the rescue. He would often keep Jenny company and help her when she studied for her Biology exams and during the weekends, they would go out.
“Since neither of us came from well-off families, we couldn’t really afford to do meals out so we stuck to discos at Pathfoot, the Grange or Gannochy or concerts seeing Barclay James Harvest, Procol Harum, Colin Blunstone and even Queen!”
Jenny and Colin got engaged on Christmas Day in 1974 and married in Chalmers Church in Bridge of Allan on May 31, in 1975. Now retired and living in Edinburgh, the two still pop by the university sometimes “for a coffee and a stroll.”
Colin believes that the key to a happy, successful relationship is: “Compromise, sharing a laugh… and accepting your wife is always right.”
Gordon and Lorna, 1993
Gordon and Lorna were both Geddes Court (a former accommodation building) residents when they met in their first year.
Gordon said: “The first thing which attracted me to my wife was when I first spotted her – she was doing head-stands in a bright red Welsh rugby top – she isn’t Welsh – and her long curly blond hair had fanned out across the floor of the corridor outside her room. [It was] a striking image which I have never forgotten.”
When they started dating, “it became a running joke that she didn’t expect us to make it to mid-semester. That was 30 years ago.”
Since then, they have been on numerous adventures together.
As students, they “managed to fix up a weekend trip to York, a break from the books and the chance to spend some time exploring somewhere new.
“It rained a lot, but we discovered an amazing Italian restaurant which we returned to together several years later.”
In Stirling, they often visited Corrieri’s, an Italian restaurant on Causewayhead, headed to the Gannochy for discos and had nice lunches.
Years after graduating, Gordon proposed to Lorna on campus; they decided to marry at the Management Centre in the summer of 2002.
“We needed a venue which had parking, wheelchair access and was central, [but] we [also] liked the symmetry of the fact that we met at uni and I proposed on the campus, too.”
Agathe and Seb, 2005
It was a reggae night at Nicky Tams when Agathe met Seb in 2005. Sandes, one of Agathe’s friends, previously met Seb at the airport in Beauvais, France, and thought the two would make a “great match.”
Since starting to see each other, they have climbed Dumyat at 2am to see the sunrise and frequented the coffee shop, Beanscene, and Pivo Bar (both closed now) for Sunday happy hours.
When Brig asked Agathe whether she could’ve imagined the life she’s built with Seb over the years back when they first met, she said: “Not a minute! Since leaving Stirling in 2009, we have backpacked [through] South America, lived in Argentina for seven years, [and now lived for] almost seven [years] in New York City, where we got married in 2017 under the Brooklyn Bridge.”
“Life will tell what the future holds but you might have to make a few compromises to be able to follow each other. One might have a job opportunity somewhere, the other might want to travel. It’s okay. As long as you both grow and progress, and as long you both agree on the next steps, you’re all good.
“Once we graduated in 2008, Seb couldn’t find a job. I was happy in [my] first job but knew that it could not last. We decided to leave Scotland and go explore South America for a few months after working seven days a week for five months at a campsite in France to make enough money for our trip. It ended up being the best decision ever.”
Daryl and Hannah, 2013
Hannah, a Film and Media student and Daryl, a Psychology student, met when they both lived together in Willow Court.
“We always joke that, even for lesbians, we moved in super fast – one year before we actually started dating.”
While studying at Stirling, the two have been to a lot of places, including Stirling Castle, Doune Castle and also the Wallace Monument.
“To this day we have never been up inside of [the Wallace Monument]. But the walks and scenery are gorgeous. Perfect for a little picnic! And it’s where I proposed.”
Daryl says they both evolved a lot throughout their relationship: “We met young but as opposed to growing apart as we grew into ourselves we continue to grow together.”
“It will be ten years this September since we met and back then I would never have imagined the girl I thought was too cool to be interested in being my friend would end up being my forever person. Yet here we are. […]. It will be our fifth wedding anniversary in March and we welcomed our baby boy, Lawrence, into the world last year. Life had plans for us, and we grabbed them by the horns.”
For other university couples, Daryl recommends to “make sure to take the time to go on actual dates. They don’t have to cost money but learn who you are outside of campus life. And be kind to each other, you are both learning who you are as individuals!”
Aidan and Lucy, 2013
Both students of Sport Science, Lab 4B140 is the place where Aidan and Lucy encountered each other for the first time.
Aidan was completing his research and Lucy was working on her dissertation project. He had been supervising a couple of Lucy’s coursemates, so after their dissertation hand-in, she texted him to join them for a few drinks. He couldn’t make it that night, but they never stopped texting.
For dates, Aidan and Lucy would sometimes go for brunch at Toast.
“We both lived in Riverside and loved getting their french toast with bacon and maple syrup – we have still never found french toast as good! We both worked on campus the year after Lucy graduated so [we] would often meet up during our lunch breaks and eat lunch, or walk around the loch with a Starbucks. It was a close runner-up for [our] favourite spot.”
But the two also loved cooking for each other, which is what most of their adventures consisted of. “Looking back through old photos confirms this!” joked Aidan.
Neither of them were sure where their relationship would take them. Aidan didn’t know where he would be after Stirling, so he wasn’t looking for anything serious. Lucy, too, “didn’t have huge expectations” when they started seeing each other.
But this May, they will be celebrating their tenth anniversary.
Jen and Vilius, 2014
Like Aidan and Lucy, Jen and Vilius met in front of their seminar class at the start of their first year.
“As soon as we met, I had a feeling that we had known each other forever,” Jen recalled. “It has been over eight years now and I couldn’t imagine a life without Vilius.”
“I think it was his mysteriousness [that first attracted me to him]. I remember feeling so curious to find out more about him and discover why I felt instantly calm and at ease in his presence.”
Vilius’ “grounded, calming energy” is one of Jen’s favourite aspects about him; it is what contributes to their compassionate relationship.
“We hold space for so much kindness and understanding in our relationship. It has taken us years to build. I feel now, more than ever, we have compassion and understanding threaded through all our communication and time together.”
“Very early on, Vilius and I discovered a really lovely balance of connecting with each other and connecting with other parts of uni. I think it is really important to give yourself time to find out who you are by yourself as well as who you are when you are together.”
An outdoorsy couple, some of Jen’s favourite memories with Vilius in Stirling include walking up Dumyat “for [the] sunrise, sunset and all sorts of occasions.”
“Being outdoors with good snacks and a flask of tea, talking and walking are my favourite adventures. Stirling has so many magical spots.”
Though Vilius and Jen don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day, Jen remembers a nice dinner that Vilius had prepared for her: “I came back to Stirling from working away to a lovely big dinner with candles and lovely music! This was such a lovely surprise.”
Alex and Jazie, 2016
Alex and Jazie first crossed paths at a pre-drinks party in Willow Court in their first year. It was only a few months later, though, that they properly started talking and became very good friends before eventually dating.
To describe their relationship in one word, Alex picked “comforting.”
“We’ve been through a lot together as a couple and individually and have been able to support and take care of each other throughout.”
The two come from different backgrounds: Alex is British and Jazie is German, with his parents being English and Swedish.
When Brig asked Alex about how they dealt with the language barrier, she said: “[Jazie] attended a European school and a lot of his friends also had British parents or heritage so there wasn’t too much of a culture difference on his side! Or a language barrier!
“It was a bit of a culture difference [for me] just learning about his childhood and what growing up in Germany was like. I started learning German when we started dating since we visit his family quite a lot and I fell in love with the culture and country massively!”
She advises couples at university to check in with each other and support each other “while you make the absolute most out of your university experience.”
“Communication is definitely key as university can be a really scary, stressful time and this can impact your relationship, but talking to each other and making time for each other, but also for yourself, is so important.”
Jacqueline and Joe, 2016
Jacqueline and Joe met in their third year at a mutual friend’s surprise birthday party.
“When all the lights went out for the big ‘surprise!’, Joe stumbled in from outside, stuck his foot in the recycling bin and made loads of noise, asked what was happening then followed with: ‘Whose birthday is it?’. I found it hilarious. We chatted for the rest of the night, walked home together, then messaged on Facebook the day after and never stopped!”
Jacqueline’s favourite thing about Joe is that he’s authentic and that he’s always “100% himself. [There’s] no games, no holding back, no second-guessing.”
What Joe loves about Jacqueline is that they “can sit quietly together in our own wee worlds and don’t necessarily always have to be doing something and enjoy it just as much.”
Although they say that they don’t always do fun things, “fun” would still be the word they would use to describe their relationship: “we have guaranteed fun just doing anything if we’re together. Laughter every day!”
One of Jacqueline’s favourite adventures they had together while studying in Stirling was the “Pokémon Go summer” of 2016.
“[It] was a few weeks during the summer after we’d been together for a few months. Joe was in-between accommodations so he just moved into my tiny wee room in my shared house temporarily. We spent the whole time jamming, playing Fallout 4 and just having such a laugh.”
A tip Jacqueline shared for those that fear what might happen to their relationship after university finishes, is to not compare your relationship to anyone else’s.
“Forge your own way ahead with what feels right to you. If what feels right is something wildly different for you both, then really sit down and evaluate the relationship. Make sure whatever you’re doing, it’s because you want to – not what you think you should, or for someone else’s benefit.”
Blair and Harry, 2017
This September, it’ll be six years since Blair and Harry got together during their Freshers’ week.
“We met in our university accommodation at a flat party. A party I immediately hated and stole [Harry] from, along with a few other people. We sat in my flat for the rest of the night and swapped stories, it was really nice.”
Harry, too, recollected the night positively: “We had messaged beforehand in a group chat so I recognized [Blair at the party] – she was pretty, and had a cool tattoo I couldn’t quite make out. We made eye contact a few times not out of any romance, but both thinking ‘this is not our vibe.’
“When I left, Blair made a point of stopping me to say it was really nice meeting me, which is precisely the point I knew I had a crush on her.”
During their studies in Stirling, Blair loved when they’d go up Gowan Hill together, or sit outside The Groundhouse on “a rare warmer day.” Harry added that they also loved going to The Regent, a Chinese restaurant and seeing a movie in Vue.
For Blair, going anywhere with Harry felt like an adventure. “I grew up in a small village in Aberdeenshire, I was very sheltered when it came to living in cities.”
Some of her favourite adventures included: “The first time [Harry] took me to Glasgow to go shopping for old books, when he forced me to get on the subway for the first time, even just trying new food I had never even heard of.”
Besides trying out new things, Blair loves how kind Harry is: “He never makes me feel small or alone. I have a lot of baggage if I’m being brutally honest, but he’s never judged me for it. He just helps me through.
“We’re two very different people but he makes sure that he always tries to understand where I’m coming from and what I need. I think it’s a really special quality to have.”
One of Harry’s favourite things about Blair is “how weird she is.”
“Whether it’s her bizarre food loves like salad cream sandwiches, conversations she has in her sleep, or how she counts to five on fingers using a 3-step alternating combination process. She always seems like the sane and rational one in our relationship, and I enjoy peeling back her cool exterior to find the strange, real person underneath.”
Blair shared that her favourite Valentine’s Day with Harry was in their second year.
“We didn’t have any money, we were really stressed out from uni, so we agreed [on] no gifts, but I drew one of his favourite characters from his favourite book series and gave him that. He got me a card that said we weren’t going to get a cat [but] he caved and got me one a few months later.
“Then we just went to Pizza Express in town. It was super low-key and it gave us a chance to just catch up, you know? Uni had been really intense so it was nice just to exist together without any fanfare.”
Zoë and Joel, 2022
Zoë and Joel are still students at Striling, having met through a dating app last March.
“I’d spoken to him for a week or so before actually meeting him [in Book Nook]. I remember saying that if the date didn’t go well then I would give up on dating forever.
“On our date, we sat and talked for six hours. I didn’t check my phone once, to the point where I was late meeting friends afterwards. I was so engrossed in him. I’m pretty sure after our second date I told my sister that I was gonna marry him eventually.”
One of the biggest adventures for Zoë was when she was visiting Joel’s hometown for the first time.
“I chose a random weekend during [a] term when the train strikes were going on, and ended up on a four-hour train and getting stranded an hour away from him. He still ended up coming to save me, even though I got off at the wrong stop!”
His kindness is one of the things Zoë values the most about him.
“Even when I’m in the worst of moods and being very difficult to work with, he’ll always stay calm and never get frustrated with me. He’ll always tell me if he thinks I’m in the wrong, which is something I highly appreciate.”
With Zoë being from Glasgow and Joel commuting to and from Liverpool twice a week for work, Zoë advises couples who are in a similar situation to “go with the flow and don’t give up amazing opportunities just because of your partner, even if you end up living hours away from each other.”
“Long distance is hard but there’s always going to be the light at the end of the tunnel that’ll make it all worth it.”
Featured Image Credit: Julia Benko through Canva
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