Week three of my program in The Hague is done, so only one week left. Of course, things are just starting to settle into some semblance of a routine…. just in time for the end of the trip. This last week was busy, but didn’t result in full leg cramps as last week did, although it’s still early in the day. We’ve had a lot of rain since the beginning of June, so when the sun has been out, which it has a lot of this week, the goal is to be outside; saving indoors for rainy days.
This week’s highlights were visiting Delft, Scheveningen, and the wine and cheese party my roommates and I hosted. Lowlights included a leaky pipe in the kitchen, and an unexpected four legged critter who came late, didn’t bring anything, and didn’t leave after our little shindig. Back to those in a moment.
Falling somewhere in the middle was all the actual learning; we visited the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) on Monday and had a guest speaker from The State Department’s Legal Office in the Embassy here. I honestly don’t really remember what he spoke about, but what stuck for me was the fact that he was an FSO, or at least went through A-100 before taking this unique position that called for someone with a law degree. Speaking to him afterward, it seems this was a very unusual position, and chances are I wouldn’t have a similar opportunity, but it’s good to know that things like that are out there. I am disappointed that he came to us, and we didn’t get to visit the Embassy, I would have like to have done that. The STL all that interesting, I must admit after staring down a war criminal at the ICC, hearing around three hours of people just telling us about the way the STL is structures didn’t really hold my attention.
Back to the highlights. On Tuesday I went to Delft by myself (hey, that rhymes!… sort of) after class. It’s a really cute town, smaller than Gouda, but a great afternoon trip. It has two big churches which I visited; Vermeer is buried in one, and the royal line of The Netherlands is buried in the other (this according to my guidebook, if it’s wrong, blame Rick Steves) I ate a late lunch in a small square, then walked around a little in the main square before heading back to The Hague. Oh, and I took lots of pictures, many of them of the canals, which I can’t seem to get enough of! See a few of them below:
Wednesday, after class and the speaker from the Embassy, I joined some classmates and headed up to Scheveningen, the beach area on the North Sea, just above The Hague. Scheveningen and Delft are actually both on the same tram line, so they’re pretty easy to get to. It was pretty cold, so swimming was out of the question, and we decided just to hang out at the restaurants right on the beach and have a few drinks. Before we left we made sure to stick out feet in the water…. briefly. I went back today for a late lunch with some other classmates.
Thursday my roommates and I hosted a wine and cheese/potluck at our apartment. Over the last few weeks I’ve collected an assortment of cheeses, some of which I can bring home but some of which I can’t. I also went a little crazy in the wine section of a Whole Foods-like grocery store, so I needed some help drinking the (gulp) eight bottles of wine I bought there. We had a pretty good turnout, and everybody brought something, from what I was told was the Dutch equivalent of a Twinkie, to green (pesto) cheese from Gouda. Afterward, a handful of us went out to the area of bars about a block away from my apartment.
So, I’m going to call this week a good one, despite the lowlights mentioned earlier. On Tuesday my roommates and I noticed a puddle of water in our kitchen. We each thought one of the others had spilled something, and when we realized that wasn’t the case, we discovered the water was leaking almost up from the floor right by our sink. Ironically, we had just hosted the ABA accreditors for our program; they sat in on our classes for two days, interviewed most of the students, and wanted to see a student apartment as part of their evaluation for the program’s re-accreditation. We were asked to show them our apartment which they were very impressed by. Of course later that evening is when we discovered the leak. Thursday night, after our wine and cheese party I discovered the mouse trying to get into the trash from the party. The next day he’d managed to chew a couple holes in the trash bag, and when I heard him inside the bag later in the day, I got one of our neighbors to run the bag, mouse and all, downstairs. The leak seems to have stopped of its own accord also, so hopefully those (minor) problems with our apartment won’t come back in this last week.
Unfortunately, next week’s agenda does not seem so exciting. We have classes until Wednesday, a review session and reading period on Thursday, and then our two exams Friday and Saturday. If possible, there’s a couple more things I’d like to see in The Hague before I leave, so I don’t expect to take any more side trips in the next week.
On a final note, it has now been over 30 days since I passed the FSOA, and I have yet to hear from an investigator about my security clearance investigation. I realized yesterday that I was supposed to hear within 30 days, and other reports I’ve read from people make it seem like they usually hear earlier than that, so I’m a little worried. I know they could be talking to my references before speaking to me, but I haven’t heard from anyone that they’ve been contacted. I’m debating whether I should begin looking into this next week, or if I should wait until I get home. Hopefully my investigation is underway, they called me and heard my message I would be back in July, and they are just waiting to speak to me then. I’m mentally crossing my fingers.