Instead I spent the first few days in the Hague exploring the city and purchasing my absolute necessities, power plug adapters and a throw away cell phone. Looking for the Dutch version of a Best Buy I hop a tram to go to down town. The tram system in the Hague is very efficient and clean. The trams and buses pretty much will get you to where ever you want to go for about .9 euros. As I wait for the tram I'm glade to know that I only have 3 minutes to wait because of the digital screen which updates as the tram travels the line. I also notice all the locals riding their bikes. They have dedicated bike lanes between the sidewalk and the street side parking. Everyone rides their bikes here, young and old. Even parents have special 3 wheeler bikes that they haul the kids around in.
I jump off the tram in downtown. Downtown is crowded, plenty of locals, tourists, and of course working ex-pats. Something my landlord mentioned was that the Hague is a major ex-pat city just as many foreigners come to the Hague to work here as there are locals. That maybe an exaggeration but downtown definitely felt very cosmopolitan.
I stumble my way through downtown not necessarily in any hurry to find my precious electronic connections but more enthralled by this European city. I think this is about the time it hits me that I'm really living abroad now. They have really cool architecture here, if I was more intelligent and well read about the subject I'm sure I could go on about how cool this place is for now, and coming from a person who has never been to Europe, I find it all very European.
I toss a few coins to a very decent violin street performer and sit in the large cobblestone square next to a large man made lake. The restaurants in the square have fires flickering in glass encased freestanding fireplaces. As I'm soaking in both the atmosphere, culture, and as it happens airborne diseases (completely unawares), I finally decide I have to get a move on and find a place to buy my necessities.
Guess what? I also found Chinatown!!!
Its the day before my first day at work and I nervously fall asleep (now sleeping on the floor as my landlord hadn't replaced the bed yet). I wake up with a full on cold/flu to a screaming alarm clock. I was having a rough morning and make it late to orientation. But at least between coughs I'm able to meet some really interesting people from all around the world. My soon to be coworkers are a smart looking bunch and I'm having a great time getting to know everyone. I even found someone from Sacramento California! During orientation somehow I let it slip my childhood nickname and now I'm known as Ducky. Something I learned in life about embarrassing or silly things about myself, its best to be true to yourself and just own it if it seems like it may catch on.
So what can I say but Quack Quack!
We're given a full tour of the UN ICTY. And struggling with a growing flu I climb up and down the stairs with a lightly veiled smile and steady pace (don't want to look overwhelmed or sickly after all). There is a lot of security and metal detectors to get through at different points in the ICTY so my ID pass is vital to scan into different corridors of the building. After a long day of meeting people, getting settled in, reading as much material as I can (all while holding back that cough that feels like someone is tickling the back of your throat and daring you to cough for relief) I talk to my supervisor and explain my illness. She is very understanding and I'm greatly relieved. As I'm walking home I notice my feet hurt a lot. At home I find a notch taken out of the heel of my foot from my rough unbroken in dress shoes. I throw everything off me and just fall into bed. Called in two days sick, realized I had a lot to make up for but knew I was making the right decision to recover.