I’ve now been here in Den Haag for seven whole days. I feel much more at home than I did on Sunday even though I still haven’t quite settled in or figured everything out. Part of this is because I have some really awesome fellow interns who are struggling through the same stuff and are as fun-loving as my fellow LawHoos!
Thursday after work a group of us went to a bar near my house for an outdoor happy hour that ended up lasting about seven hours (for some of us). I introduced We Will Rock You (shout-out to World at Play!), and we tried a number of different kinds of beer. I even went on the darker end of the spectrum, which is NOT normally my thing! See pics below:
One thing I’ve learned is that as hard as it often is for law students not to talk about law, it’s even harder for ICTY employees not to talk about work. This is partially because we interns bombard them with questions; there is just so much that we want/need to understand about how the tribunal works, where things are with the various cases we’re working on, and about the Balkans more generally. (I think so far I am the most knowledgeable intern when it comes to what happened during the 90’s and what it’s like now, but there is still a TON that I don’t know.) My case has of course prompted a lot of conversation this week thanks first to the significance of the opening statements and second to the decision to postpone indefinitely while the disclosure stuff is sorted out. It’s all very interesting, but at some point it’s also important for someone to cut off the work talk! (I did that once or twice, but I think we only managed to stay off-topic for a few minutes each time.)
Here’s a picture of the seemingly ever-present bitte ballen (bitter balls), the mysterious “meatballs” with an unidentifiable, liquidy meat-based substance inside. They are the ultimate Dutch bar food:
Anyway, yesterday several of us had the first of a series of computer program trainings, and this one was slated to take all day. We ended up with a bit over an hour for lunch, so we headed over to the Fred (the street that’s actually called Frederik Hendriklaan and home to lots of shops) in search of a deli we’d heard could make excellent sandwiches. We found it and felt quite overwhelmed: aside from being a full-service deli, they had several display cases full of lots of different foods. I ended up getting a pepper stuff with a gigantic veal meatball and some stir fried vegetables. After about 15 minutes, we all had our food and headed out to a park across the street to picnic. The sun was out, and the air was warmer than it had been the rest of the week, so it was a really nice thing to do in the middle of the day.
Our training ended up only lasting until about 1:45, and since we weren’t expected back at work (my supervisor at least had dismissed us until Monday, and we knew we didn’t have any work to do), several of us picked up a bottle of prosecco and went back to the park for a little mid-afternoon refresher. Sitting there in the grass and the sun while watching two little Dutch kids attempt to play tennis with their grandfather was just the most relaxing way to spend a Friday afternoon!
When the weather started turning colder and cloudier, we headed back to my apartment and hung out there for a few more hours. On the way, we stopped into one of the cheese shops on the Fred. If you’ve ever been to Spain and seen the shops with a hundred legs of ham hanging from the ceiling, this was kind of like that, except with huge wheels of cheese. We sampled a few, including a truffle oil cheese that was absolutely heavenly but cost 30 euros per kilo! (our little sample slices must have been worth at least 50 cents!) We ended up buying a basic Dutch cheese (I don’t know the name) that was very mild and paired well with some crackers and wine that we also brought home.
Around 6:45 we walked a few blocks over to the cafe where I’d eaten lunch with Rachel and Linda on Sunday. Once a month, a local Expat organization puts on something called Friday Expat Drinks (FED) at a different venue and offers free drinks and finger food if you arrive before a certain time. We didn’t see anyone we knew and weren’t particularly impressed with the drinks, but it was an interesting event to check out. Most of the people there actually seemed to be something other than American, which just goes to show how diverse the Hague is.
Next weekend the plan is for a bunch of us to go to Oslo. We have a three-day weekend (Monday the 28th is a holiday) and spent some time yesterday just looking to see what was the cheapest flight we could find. Oslo won out by about $70. We have decided that we will try to plan our travel like this for the rest of the summer – wherever the price blows us! We’re all quite excited.
I’m heading to bed now after a long day at work (yes, it’s Saturday). We’re working through some of the stuff related to the trial delay. It’s not how I envisioned spending my first Saturday here, but it’s interesting to continue getting a very detailed, inside look at how a huge trial like this actually works. The sheer amount of documentation and information involved is nothing short of incredible.
Hopefully the nice weather will continue tomorrow – I’m looking forward to a leisurely day!