Erasmus University Lovebirds: Neslihan & Furkan
The first time she saw him in class, she thought: what is that show-off doing? About three years later, he decided to ask her to marry him in room M1-12. And she said yes. Neslihan Erikçi-Gülsen (27) and Furkan Erikçi (28) met while studying at Rotterdam School of Management (RSM). Their story proves that wearing a bright sweater can be life-changing - and shows that university is much more than just studying!
Furkan: ‘It wasn’t love at first sight.’
Neslihan: ‘No, it wasn’t. The first time we saw each other was in the first year of our Bachelor Business Administration, in 2009. We were sitting in class. I was in front, paying attention like a good girl. He was in the back.’
Furkan: ‘See, I would sometimes wear these brightly coloured, showy outfits. And I was always talking in class, so teachers would ask ‘the gentleman wearing the bright yellow sweater’ to keep quiet.’
Neslihan: ‘I remember looking over my shoulder and thinking: who is that show-off in the back, what is he doing; why is he disturbing class?’
Furkan: ‘The first time we really spoke was before or after an exam, at the end of the first year.’
Neslihan: ‘Before the exam he asked me if I had studied well and we exchanged phone numbers.’
Furkan: ‘As friends, I thought. But after the exam she texted me, asking if it went well. From that moment onwards we kept texting.’
Neslihan: ‘I kind of liked him, secretly, but I felt like it was always me who took the initiative. At one point I was a little fed up with him because of that. I thought, never mind, plenty more fish in the sea. So I stopped texting him. That’s when he suddenly took the initiative and asked me why I never texted him anymore.’
Furkan: ‘She said: I’m done with always being the first to text. That’s when it became clear to me that she liked me. I’d always enjoyed the attention, but only after it stopped I realized that I liked her too.’
Neslihan was a little upset, but not for long. They started meeting up outside class hours and a few months later, Furkan asked her to go steady.
Furkan: ‘At the pier in Scheveningen, March 28, 2010.’
Neslihan: ‘We were both part of a study group of about 10 to 15 students. We did a lot together, assignments but also extracurricular events. We decided to keep our relationship a secret, because we were very good at working together and we didn’t want our classmates to think it was only because we were boyfriend and girlfriend.’
Furkan: ‘But whenever someone asked about it, if they’d seen us walking hand in hand or whatever, we would tell the truth.’
Neslihan: ‘It was nice that we were following the same programme, we really motivated each other.’
Furkan: ‘We would study in the library until late and go to the cinema afterwards, for example.’
During their studies, Neslihan lived at home with her parents in Schiedam, as is customary in Turkish families. Furkan was living with his parents in Harderwijk, from where he hails. Both value their culture and traditions, and decided to get married so that they could live together and see each other more often.
Furkan: ‘When I was planning my proposal to Neslihan, we were both taking the master Organisational Change & Consulting. I wanted to ask her to marry me in room M1-12. That is where we first saw each other, when she thought I was a show-off. I had made sure that the room was empty, I’d bought a ring, put on a suit and everything. But she was late, and when she finally arrived, there was a class going on in M1-12. So I took her into a smaller room where we used to have work groups.’
Neslihan: ‘I didn’t see it coming at all. If I had, I would have worn something nice – now I had a cold and was dragging along tissues. When I saw his suit, I asked him if he was going to a job interview.’
Furkan: ‘She said yes before I even asked her.’
Neslihan: ‘You gave quite a long introduction.’
After the ‘Western-style’ proposal, Furkan proposed again according to tradition, visiting Neslihans parents with his, and asking for her hand. They got engaged in June 2012 and were married in 2013. Neslihan, who works as a Risk Manager at Rabobank, and Furkan, who is a Business IT consultant at KPMG, now live together in Harderwijk. Their son Eray was born in 2015.
Furkan: ‘I had always told her I wanted to live in Harderwijk. I’m an only child, and my parents are somewhat older, so I want to stay close.’
Neslihan: ‘I was so used to living in Rotterdam, so I wasn’t too excited about that. But now that we have a child I’m very happy that we chose Harderwijk. It’s peaceful and we have a lot of space here.’
Furkan: ‘But we often visit Rotterdam. Her parents still live in Schiedam, I have a lot of family in Rotterdam, many of our friends are here. We still really enjoy the city.’