There are many reasons to love Columbia SIPA: Innovative classes, an international community, the global hub that is New York City. But these Seeples have an extra reason – they found their better halves here. For Valentine’s Day, we’re sharing three new SIPA Love Stories from our alumni.

Today meet Jon (MPA ’13) and Valle (MIA ’14), world travelers that started with first dates exploring New York City, then the United States, and now Spain and Europe. And Tian (MIA ’15) and André (MIA ’15), avid travelers who initially bonded over shared backgrounds in Asia, are looking forward to their next trip – one that will start them on their new life journey together.

Check back tomorrow for another installment of SIPA Love Stories!

Jon (MPA ’13) and Valle (MIA ’14)

Jon and Valle at graduation.

Jon and Valle met during orientation week in August 2012. Jon, an Oregonian, was about to start his second year at SIPA and was tabling to recruit editorial assistants for the Journal of International Affairs. He succeeded in recruiting Valle, an incoming student from Spain. Jon and Valle teamed up in the editing workshops and coincidentally had a class together with Professor Gottlieb.

After arriving in New York City, Valle was in the market for a bike. Jon owned two and attempted to sell her one; instead, Valle started borrowing it for their biking dates across New York, and over time she claimed Jon’s bike as her own. For one of their first dates, they biked from campus all the way to the Cloisters, where Valle survived a dramatic accident – luckily without injuries! Together they explored the city on two wheels having Mexican food in the Bronx, discovering a secret Spanish club in Astoria, Queens, and enjoying Cuban music in Hoboken, NJ.

After New York City, Jon and Valle moved to Washington, D.C., both working in international development. For those few years, they used every weekend and holiday to travel around the United States, visiting over 25 states from Idaho to Ohio to Mississippi.

The two got married in July 2017 and now live in Spain. They live in a beautiful garret in Madrid’s literary quarter, and they are embracing their new weekend getaways across Spain and Europe.

Jon and Valle do miss New York — a place that will always be home for them. They try to visit the city whenever they can and, if possible, stay near Columbia University to reminisce at the Hungarian Pastry Shop about how it all began.

Tian (MIA ’15) and André (MIA ’15)

Tian, a recent college graduate from China, and André, who had just moved back to the U.S. after working in Japan, met at their first class of SIPA’s Fall 2013 semester. They soon came to realize their common passion for global macroeconomics, similar backgrounds in Asia, and shared love for Lord of the Rings and Civilization. During their joint adventures, they’ve had good times, rough times, but never bad times.

Both avid travelers, they are constantly planning their next trip. They are especially excited about the upcoming one in September, where, surrounded by friends and family, Tian and André will celebrate the official beginning of their life journey together.

You can find our archives of SIPA Love Stories here.