Iolanda Costa Gomes (BA Politics and Modern Languages, 2010) and James McElhinney (BSc Biological Sciences, 2009; MSc Biotechnology, 2010; PhD Biological Sciences, 2014).

I met James in 2007, during our second year of our undergraduate degrees.

A friend of mine suggested we go for coffee at Essex Express (later named Happy Days, which was quite amusing as it was one of his favourite phrases) and we bumped into him and some friends.

Weeks later, he called out to me in the square. Being a quintessentially reserved British man, this was quite unusual for him. I, on the other hand, being an outspoken Portuguese girl found this quite charming and we went for a coffee. It wasn't until my housemate called me at midnight, to ask where I was, that we realised we spent the last 12 hours chatting non-stop! Politics, science, space, travel - you name it. 

We started dating and, always a gentleman, James even learned to dance kizomba, an Angolan dance, so that his girlfriend, the Portuguese speaking society president wouldn't need to dance with anyone else. Again, very charming, considering he hates dancing.

James went on to complete his Masters in Biotechnology and PhD in Biological Sciences at Essex. Along with my year abroad and me having moved to the UAE for work, we did a total of 4 years long distance and still managed to keep talking daily. 

On the evening of his PhD graduation ceremony James proposed and we've been together more than 14 years.  We now live in the UAE and have the most wonderful two year old daughter Sofia. We are very fond of Essex and if we're not careful, we still finds ourselves talking late into the night!