Thursday, 1 May 2014

King's Day and Laptops Astray


Good afternoon everyone,

It’s hard to believe that today is the beginning of May and that Block 4 of the Master’s programme is in full swing. It has been a rollercoaster over the last couple of couple weeks of final deadlines (marking the end of Block 3), Dutch celebrations, dreaded laptop mishaps and unexpected job opportunities.

The final essays have all officially been submitted and the grades for our work are slowly trickling in, leaving one last puzzle piece to this Master’s: the thesis. It is certainly bittersweet to be at the end of classes and not to see all of the usual faces during the week, but the class group is already busy organizing (much-needed) park dates away from thesis time and planning a fundraiser traditionally arranged by students of the LLM.

Over the weekend, the streets of Utrecht flooded with a sea of orange for the celebration of ‘’Koningsnacht’’ (King’s Night) and “Koningsdag” (King’s Day), the Dutch national holiday which began in 1885 in honour of the birth of Queen Wilhemina and has continued annually ever since. This year marks the first celebration for King Willem Alexander after his mother Queen Beatrice stepped down as monarch last year, passing the role to her son. The celebration is a mish-mash of street vendors, outdoor music stages and all things orange. The feeling in the streets of Utrecht is electric and it is certainly not something to be missed.

Like any enthusiastic international student, I headed into the city centre to soak up the spectacle of outrageous orange outfits and walk the streets closed for pedestrians, stopping at different music stages and randomly running into friends. You know it is a celebration in Utrecht when it is even impossible to ride your bike right into the city. Instead, you park your bike at the nearest spot and join the large crowds walking towards the action.

Unfortunately for me, the not-to-be-missed thrill of Koningsnacht means it is known that most people are not at home during the night. Not long into the celebrations, I received the call that my apartment had been broken into and that my laptop had been stolen. Of course, this is the dreaded moment any student can imagine when you realize you have (very naively) not backed up the files on your computer. Luckily, sending assignments by email and dropbox means I have a portion of my research, but it is certainly a lesson learned.  I am just happy that this did not happen closer to the thesis deadline. Now, it is time to change the locks, call the insurance company and make a solemn promise to myself to back up all future files.

Even though I missed the full experience of Koningsdag this year (luckily I have had the privilege to celebrate the full weekend over the past two Queen’s days), the week offered an unexpected silver-lining. I have been given the opportunity to work as a paid student-assistant for the university, starting right away and working throughout the summer. It is a great way to meet new faces at the university, build my CV, and continue to do in-depth research after my thesis is finished. It is a wonderful feeling to be chosen for a job opportunity based on your student work, and I’m looking forward to starting my first ever job in the Netherlands.

The start of May brings with it the countdown to the ICC Moot Court competition taking place at the end of the month in the Hague. The pleadings are written, the moot sessions are scheduled, and there’s nothing left to do but practice, read and then practice some more. This week we received the schedule for the Moot Court along with the memorials of the opposing teams we will face in the first rounds of the competition. It’s going to be tough work, but with regular guest judges for our practice sessions, we are gearing up to handle anything that is thrown our way.

Tot de volgende keer/Until next time!

Erin

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