“After two lectures we went online because of corona, so I didn’t see him in real life”, she says. “After the elective finished, I e-mailed him because I knew he had switched from Art to Sociology and I was considering something similar. I expected to be able to ask a few questions by e-mail, but then he suggested we talk about it during a walk. And I love walking, so why not! He turned out to be a very good listener, very easy to talk to and very respectful. We walked all over Groningen for three hours.”

One walk led to more walks, until Ferdi suggested we watch Star Wars together. Because her name is Leah, which sounds exactly the same as Princess Leia from Star Wars. A risky suggestion: Leah had never seen any part from the famous space opera. But it worked out well: three film trilogies later, they were in a relationship. “He’s so nice to talk to. And we have the same humour. We’ve been together for two years now. There’s a bit of an age difference – we’re 11 years apart – but he doesn’t behave differently from me, so I don’t notice much of that.”

Every three weeks

However, Leah now lives in Rotterdam and Ferdi still lives in Groningen. “The plan was for us to break up, because we didn’t believe in a long-distance relationship. And I wanted to do what was best for my career. Ferdi fully supported me in that.” But Leah and Ferdi did not break up. “At least we see each other every three weeks; one time I go to Groningen by train, the other time he drives to see me. It has only strengthened and deepened our relationship. ‘Distance makes the heart go fonder.’

For now, Ferdi works as a civil servant for the Province of Groningen while Leah studies in Rotterdam. “He does want to see if he can find a job in a place where I want to go, according to him it won’t be a problem. I still have to think about where exactly I’m going after my studies.”


“At Christmas, Ferdi met my family for the first time in Germany. That was nerve-wracking, of course. Fortunately, like my family, he really loves playing games, so that went really well. When I met his family in Drenthe, it was a bit more complicated: they don’t speak English at all. So Ferdi and his younger brother had to interpret. Still, I felt very welcome there too.”