One Month in the Hague!

As of today, I’ve been in the Hague for exactly one month. I can’t believe I’m already 1/3 of the way through the summer! At the same time, it’s hard to believe that I’ve ONLY been here for a month. I fell into personal, professional, and social routines so easily and immediately that I feel like I’ve been here much longer.

That being said, this is going to be my first real weekend in the Hague! The only other weekend I was here (the weekend after I arrived), I worked all day Saturday and then was still so tired the next day that I didn’t do much except hang out at the beach. I still haven’t seen a lot of the city; I think Dad managed to see more in his one afternoon here than I have seen in the last month! Last night I was reading through the Lonely Planet’s couple of pages on the Hague and realized that very little of its contents looked familiar to me. Clearly, I need to take my bike and venture a little further afield!

I’m generally enjoying the Hague; my only major complaint (and that of everyone else here) is that the weather sucks. Today the sun is out, but that’s unfortunately the exception rather than the rule. It’s warmed up slightly, meaning that the temperature has reached its likely peak of highs in the low- to mid-60’s. Fingers crossed for nice weather this weekend so I can spend a bit more time on the beach!

In terms of other aspects of European life, I’m gradually starting to figure things out. I succeeded in opening a Dutch bank account last week (though I am still figuring out how to actually put money in it). I got my washing machine properly hooked up to the faucet of my bathroom sink (though now I don’t know how to remove it, so I’m now brushing my teeth in the kitchen). I am still experimenting with the settings of the washing machine – clothes often come out, paradoxically, either too wet (and often still a bit soapy) or too dry; ultimately, I have to do some serious wringing out of everything that goes through, so clearly the spin cycle leaves something to be desired. I think I’m going to continue taking a few articles of clothing to be professionally laundered just so I can be assured that they’re truly clean (not convinced anything is; it just smells better) and not wrinkled and/or oddly stressed out as a result of all the wringing! I think laundry is really the only thing I truly miss about the U.S. at this point.

My internship continues to be great. The other interns are 100% awesome – we’re a fun-loving group of people who also happen to be very smart and committed to the work that the Tribunal is doing. I look forward to lunch every day when we can hang out in the cafeteria (or on rare nice days, on the terrace) and just chat about things. We’re still making lots of plans for travel and other activities; for example, tomorrow night a group of us is going to Delft for dinner at a tavern that is like a more authentic version of Medieval Times, complete with rentable costumes. (Pictures absolutely forthcoming.) Every Monday morning is a time for catching up on everyone’s travels over the past weekend. I’ve gone to three countries over the past three weekends, and I am not alone in that record!

The other Tribunal employees are really wonderful as well. We interns are truly treated like lawyers; sometimes we have “grunt” work to do, but it’s work that the lawyers are doing too, so I don’t find it at all annoying. Everything, no matter how small or how tedious, is an important part of the work to bring Mladic to justice and help to provide some sense of closure to the victims as well. All of the attorneys I’ve worked with are warm, friendly, and good-natured, and they’re not afraid to give us real work. I got to draft another motion on Monday, which was pretty great. I’ve been doing a wide variety of work, both a combination of proactive (scheduled) and reactive tasks depending on the needs of the team.

I think this is the first time I’ve truly had no complaints about a job. Teaching was obviously tremendously rewarding and challenging in a good way, but it was also emotionally draining and exhausting. Working for the DC school system was a lot like the experience here except that there were so many issues of management and very little structure, so it was very frustrating. Consulting was just boring; I was under-utilized and uninterested in the work I did receive. Here, I’m learning a great deal about the Balkans conflict (which I’ve wanted to do for years), getting an inside look at the international justice system, and applying a lot of my innate and learned skills in order to further work that I fully believe in. I feel very, very lucky.


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