Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Our first letter from Emily Simmons - at The Hague, Holland

Hello Dear Lady,

Things are just great here, of course! Let's see... It is chilly already, borderline cold for us M'sippians. It doesn't rain literally ALL the time, just seventy-five percent of the time. But not to worry, it isn't a depressing, sad rain. It's more like a artsy, moody, poetic rain; classic European moroseness, or anyway that's how I've framed it for myself. SO many internationals, heavy on the Canadians, Americans, and Aussies. I guess the English-but-not-England thing is a big draw for them... I already have made friends with a guy from Florence, a girl from Vienna and a gal from St. Petersburg. So, basically, I'm set for travel!

I'm thinking of jetting off to Portugal while it's warm and sunny there, I could use some Vitamin D. Lisbon has been on my list for the longest time. Probably weekend after next, as there are still sights unseen nearby. Dylan says hello, he went to an Arcade Fire concert in Amsterdam spur-of-the-moment last night with one of his roomies. We can do things like that, see  :)

The main thing I have absorbed about The Netherlands thus far is that the people are universally friendly. Not normal, hospitable, polite friendly, I mean truly helpful, jovial, and open. Strangers in the street are happy to help, advise, point in the right direction or just chat. The city is very accustomed to hosting a lot of international residents, and pretty much everyone I've met has known where Mississippi is! The people seem happy to have foreigners around, and I've met a lot of shopkeepers and restaurant owners who are ex-pats themselves. My coffee guy (here five days and I already have a morning coffee guy) is from Portland; he fell in love with a Dutch gal and moved here five years ago. Sweet isn't it :) The international vibe means great food too. So far I've had a perfect quiche (tasted like Paris), an English breakfast (with a pot of Earl Grey, mind you), really good Mexican (can't usually find that in Europe, eh?) the best Chai of my life, and an awesome Turkish kebab dinner (made vegetarian especially for me, they were so sweet).

I wanted to come to The Hague because it is such an internationally important city for global peace and justice. One of the four main branches of the UN is located here, the International Court of Justice, which includes the court where war crimes are tried. I think it is especially exciting to be here at this time, with the current state of world events. I read a news article just this morning, calling for Gaddafi to be taken alive when he is found, so that he can face his charges of crimes against humanity here in The Hague. There are a great many NGOs and relief agencies that have headquarters here, and since I hope to one day work for some kind of human rights organizations, this seemed like the perfect place for me to spend a semester of my studies. It was an opportunity to perfect to pass up.


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