Growing up, I went to camp every summer first as a camper and later as a counselor . We would tell the campers during each month-long session to "pack their suitcases full". It was a reminder throughout the summer that their time at camp was fleeting, and to make the most of everything at their fingertips.
Boarding the plane to Amsterdam with a suitcase certainly as full as possible, the phrase came back to me. I hope this summer to take advantage of all the experiences at my fingertips; academic, professional, or cultural. After flying through the night without sleep and then taking the train from Amsterdam to the Hague, I was relieved to see my AirBNB host waiting for me on the tram platform to show me to my apartment for the summer. Once settled, I decided to combat jetlag by staying awake, and ventured out to investigate my neighborhood. My first couple of days in the Hague consisted mostly of exploration by foot. The tram system is incredibly straightforward, and has a similar re-usable card system to the D.C. metro (the OV chipkaart), but I enjoyed getting the lay of the land at a slower pace. After now five days of intermittent exploration, I've only begun to see all the Hague has to offer. It is a beautiful city with stately old architecture, a brisk waterside town with gardens and canals at every turn, but also a modern hub for business, politics, shopping, and music.
My first day of work began with an office lunch on Monday to introduce me and a new colleague starting the same day to the team. International IDEA is headquartered in Sweden, but the Constitution Building Programme is in IDEA's Hague office. Lunch outside in a plaza near the office was a relaxing welcome and introduction to my colleagues for the summer. After lunch, my supervisor acquainted me with the projects I will work on over the summer and gave an overview of current projects the IDEA staff are working on. I look forward to primarily helping with a relatively new project addressing religion in constitutions. In my first couple of full work days, I helped research the impact of religion on drafting constitutions and the interplay between religion, political structure, and constitutions. I am excited to continue learning both about constitution building and the Hague in the weeks to come.
Binnenhof, The Hague, the Netherlands