After many weeks and planning and prepping… I’M FINALLY IN THE NETHERLANDS!!! With only one and a half days into this study abroad program, I have to say that I am already considering how I can extend my stay longer than planned. The cuisine, the sights, and rich history/culture are like nothing I have experienced within the US or other countries I have visited. The individuals who live here are excited about their country and even more enthusiastic about sharing it with others! My first day here consisted of discussing the logistics with my instructors of how myself and our group would get around, our lodging, and how to convert our currency properly and for the best rate. After checking these more essential boxes, we set off to search the city of Den Haag, the first city stop of our tour of the Netherlands. *I want to note that “Den Haag” and “The Hague” are the same thing so I will use them interchangeably* We got accustomed with the transit, which is very similar to at home in Tacoma, however slightly more efficient. Imagine never having to miss your bus because you forgot to purchase a ticket. In the Netherlands, you don’t need to imagine because the ticket stations are on the bus/tram with you! After this we settled into our hotel. After a group dinner we were free to roam the city. I am so excited for you all to see the beautiful pictures encapsulating the experience I had my first night in the Hague! The sights here are too much for words, something you can only fully experience with you own two eyes. I understand this may not be possible for everyone however and so just for you all I will be posting some real beauties throughout! (:
Today has been quite the adventure! After having a lovely breakfast, my group members and I travelled with our instructors to the Peace Palace; an international law administrative building in The Hague which houses the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Hague Academy of International Law, and the Peace Palace Library (containing the largest selection of literature on the laws of war and peace in the world!). This building was funded by Scottish-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. In 1913, Andrew Carnegie wrote a 1.5 million dollar check to support the construction of this divine palace. Today, the money Carnegie donated would have equated to $40 million dollars (adjusted for inflation)! The palace had a visitors center where we did an audio tour, as the palace was not available for entry due to the ICJ being in session for an actual international hearing. After visiting the Peace Palace, we travelled to the Prison Gate Museum which housed the first incarceration sight in the Hague. As this is a Comparative Criminal Justice program, we will be visiting many sights relevant to this particular topic. This building consisted of old cells both for the rich and poor and what a drastically different experience it was for those incarcerated based upon class! In addition, this prison museum also featured a torture room where those incarcerated were punished or taken to be beaten into confessing crimes, wether they committed them or not. We were also shown several devices used for public humiliation, pain, and death.
After our tour in the Hague, we traveled by transit to the city of Delft. Here we were free to walk around the tourist areas and visit sights and of course EAT! My group and I went up into a tower (which took very long to climb and was also quite terrifying), perused gift shops, and after this we ate. Needless to say, after eating we were all ready to head back to the Hague for a much needed nap. Tomorrow we will be leaving at 9:30 AM to learn about the Refugee experience here in the Netherlands as it relates to the culture of criminal justice and crime reform here.