Vacation v Field Study

This is very behind the times. I’ve been back in Canada for months now and I’m back to classes. But, I still want to share all about my European adventures as I promised. So this post is about our field study week. Or, as us PILs (Public International Law students) called it, our vacation. For the business kids it really was more of a field study – they were go go go -ing all week long. For us in the PIL program it was a lot more relaxing.

Before our week started though a bunch of us – mostly PIL, but also some of the business kids – took a trip to Amsterdam. It was a real experience, but not something I would want to repeat. I mean, if a free trip to Amsterdam was offered I would take it, but I definitely wouldn’t plan a trip there that I had to pay for.


Amsterdam started out well, turned into pure chaos when we thought our hostel had bed bugs (it didn’t), and then ended up being fun. Honestly, it was beautiful during the day, but (of course) skeevy at night. I did end up going out with the entire group to a bar in the Red Light District. I feel like it was one of those things I am glad I can say I’ve done, but even if I won a free trip to Amsterdam I wouldn’t do it again.



One of the girls on our trip with us got a suggestion from some of the guys we met at our new hostel that we should go out to Den Haag early and enjoy it. They said it was a really nice place and that we would probably love it. So, we left a little earlier than a lot of our group and I was glad to get out of there. I was pretty much done with Amsterdam by that point.

And, he was right. I absolutely loved Den Haag. It had all the beauty of Amsterdam that I enjoyed, but none of the skeeviness. It even had a beach (I didn’t actually go to the beach, but a lot of people did at some point during the trip).

Den Haag was the first part of the PIL field study week. Basically, this involved us getting to go to a bunch of really cool international organizations and meet with interesting people involved in international law. Sadly, most of the places we went in Den Haag did not allow us to take pictures and one of the people in charge of our trip would not let us bring our phones or cameras so even if we were allowed to take pictures we did not have the ability to do so. It was very disappointing.


The International Criminal Court!!!

That said, the places we visited in Den Haag were: The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The OPCW had a special place in my heart because it was one of the committees I had done at a Model UN conference during my undergrad. I was super disappointed that I didn’t get to take any photos. The STL was actually the surprise gem of Den Haag. I didn’t know much about it before I went, but the high tech stuff they were doing was actually really, really cool. And of course the ICC was amazing. One of the people travelling with us actually used to work there so it felt like we really got the start treatment!



We then moved onward to Geneva. I actually found Geneva to be rather disappointing. I knew it was very expensive going in, but I think I just expected it to be more impressive than it was. It was nice enough, but I just expected it to be better. The visits we made there were pretty awesome though. And we were allowed to take pictures this time!

In Geneva we went to The UN Officer of the High Commissioner for Refugees (OHCHR), the Canadian Mission to the UN, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). And yes, some of those acronyms could get confusing after a while.

And finally, on our last day in Geneva, 3 of us went to the UN Headquarters there. The business kids had gotten to go as part of their official trips but we had not and I personally think we should have been taken. Regardless, I’m definitely glad I went.

The really cool thing was that the UN office there was actually the headquarters of the old League of Nations too (the predecessor to the UN). And so they had all the old insignia and rooms and stuff. And we even got to sit in the room where wars had been argued about and/or even settled. It was an amazing experience.

The whole week was a one of a kind opportunity and I feel so privileged to have been able to do such a thing. The Castle itself was a lot of work, but in my mind it was definitely worth it.

  • Kali


Budapest Adventures

This is a little behind the times now, but a few weekends back I was in Budapest, Hungary. Right now I’m in Den Haag, Holland but I’ll tell you all about that later. For now, Budapest.

I was staying with my friend Michelle on the Pest side of Budapest. I had no idea it was basically two different cities. Both gorgeous though.


The first day we did a couple of museum – notably the Museum of Applied Arts and the Holocaust Memorial Centre (yes, I am a very fun person).

Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take photos at the Holocaust Memorial Centre – this seems to be a trend in Europe – except in the synagogue at the very end. The Memorial was well done though, but it did look like it needed a bit of upkeep.

We also spent a great deal of time in cafés. I think Michelle made it her weekend goal to fill me with as much cake as possible. Which was definitely fine by me.

But I didn’t just eat cake – I also drank a lot of lemonade. Did you know that Budapest is known for its lemonades? I didn’t. They definitely deserve it though!

We also went to the Terror House. Because, as I said before, I am a really fun person. It was super interesting though. Unfortunately it was yet another one of those places where photos were not allowed. It basically traced the back to back occupations of Hungary in the 20th Century – first the Nazi’s under the Arrow Cross party and then the communists powered by the USSR. It definitely put a lot more emphasis on the communists though. It was fine for me since I got most of the Nazi history at the Holocaust Memorial anyway. The museum was pretty thorough though and I learned a lot. I had no idea that both groups used the same headquarters (60 Andrássy) and it was that building they had turned into the museum. You even went to the basement to see old prison/torture cells!


Hero Square

After all the fun at the Terror House (kidding) we headed to the park. On the way there we checked out Hero Square as seen above. As a side note, the weather was beautiful!

We went and checked out the Basilica too. The choir there was practicing for a performance. They were really quite talented.


The view from the top of the Basilica

I definitely managed to pack a lot into a small timeframe for a trip. I was only there for two days! I even managed to stumble upon the office of the President!


We didn’t spend as much time on the Buda side, but we did get over there for an afternoon and I took a look around and snapped some photos. Being me, they were mostly of Matthias Church.



There were also an awful lot of museums to see over there, but unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to get into any of them because they were all closed. That’s okay though – better for my wallet anyhow.

We also went to dinner with some of my law friends. We went to this great place called Spinoza in the Jewish Quarter. I had the Cholent. I had never had it before, but I had heard of it so I decided to try it. Why not? It was yummy so it obviously paid off. I had not realized how loud Canadians can get though! Especially once they got some pálinka in them!


I think my favourite picture I took there is this one of the Hungarian parliament buildings though. I will admit to giving it a bit of editing!


Overall I had a wonderful time in Budapest. There are still a whole lot of things I did not have a chance to see that I wish I had. Oh well though. Who knows, maybe I’ll manage to get back there one of these days!

  • Kali

The Budapest Skyline at Sunset

Local Tour

Life at the Castle is settling in. The way you can tell this is twofold: firstly, we already have an exam coming up (this Monday), and secondly, people have started planning their weekend trips away.

Next weekend I’ll be going to Budapest to see the city and hang out with a friend of mine from undergrad who lives there now. There’s a few other people planning Budapest for that weekend too and a group going to Wales and Dublin, and another group doing Vienna & Budapest.

But earlier this week a bunch of us went and had a bit of a more local adventure. And, naturally, I took a couple pictures to share the experience with the internet.


Tea at Badger’s Tea House [insert obligatory comment about Hufflepuffs here]

The first stop was the tiny village of Alfriston. It was definitely a gorgeous day for it. A group of us had our first stop at a tea house (I had real cream tea with scones, jam, and clotted cream. Yum!) before walking around the village.

Next we headed to the town of Lewes. It was much bigger and also had a castle! There sure are a lot of castles around here.


Part of Lewes Castle

Lewes was also good for walking around in. I ended up walking around and checking out bookshops (I made sure not to buy anything though), a stationary shop, and a couple of bakeries/cafes. I got this delicious berry donut and the friend I was wandering with bought this delicious tikka masala pastry (he gave me a bite!). Oh! And we found this adorable little chocolate shop and I purchased a couple chocolates from there as well.


One of the views from the top of Lewes Castle. Cute, right?

We then stopped at a little pub in East Dean (apparently the house Sherlock Holmes retired to is there – though I’m not really sure how that works, but it was pointed out to us) before doing a walk to Birling Gap.

The cliffs at Birling Gap were beautiful. The walk was a little more strenuous than I had been told, but it was definitely worth it.

Honestly, as much as I can’t wait for Budapest (and Amsterdam the next week) the local surroundings are pretty dang gorgeous as well. I feel so fortunate to be here.

  • Kali

English Country Walk

I’m not generally a huge fan of rural life, but it really is quite pretty even if I don’t think I could live here for more than a couple months. Where is here? Well, the Castle of course.

Yes, that’s right. I’ve arrived in England and classes have started here. I was able to spend a few days in London too and ended up meeting up with one of my best friends (& her boyfriend) and we went to Warner Brothers Studios to see the Making of Harry Potter. I have pictures from that, but currently my camera is not cooperating so I have no way to access the photos so a post about that will have to come later.

Instead, I’ll share a bit of the countryside around the Castle I’m currently calling home.

This was the cutest little church we ran into right near the Castle. The oldest grave we were able to read had a death date of 1763, but we didn’t look at all of them and there were definitely more than a couple we couldn’t read.


Quite honestly I just liked the name of this place. I also like that all the houses around here seem to have names. I’m not sure how you pronounce Lyng (I’ve been saying ling though – so it rhymes with ring), but I do know that whoever this named this place was on point with their naming skills.

The streets around the Castle are narrow and I was a little bit nervous about cars, but the view was beautiful so I can see myself doing it again some time.


Isn’t this place adorable? I don’t remember what it was named (though I’m pretty positive it was not Cleavers Lyng), but I couldn’t resist taking a photo. Honestly, walking around here sometimes makes me feel like I belong in a Jane Austen novel or something.


Classes are busy, but every weekend is a 3 day weekend. Tomorrow we have a legal tour of London which sounds like it should be fun (but a real early day). I’m going to miss the professor we had this week though (Prof. L). He’s got the most adorable German accent and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t quite know what to make of us other than laughing at us.

But you know, if I were him I would be laughing too.

  • Kali


Sassy Answers to Future Questions

When you’re a kid the question of what you want to be when you grow up is fun and relatively simple for most of us. Generally you answer with a big grin and some far fetched idea. For me it was an actress – until I was 13 and then I was going to be a lawyer.

But it feels like the older you get, the more frustrating that question gets, the more pressure there seems to be to have a legitimate and thoughtful answer.


There were times during my undergraduate degree when I waffled on the whole law school idea – though I always came back to it in the end – and times where even if I really wanted law school I just was not convinced I had a chance at being smart enough to get in. And it was around this time that the questions started cropping up again. “So, what do you want to do next?” “What are you going to do with that [a double major in political science and religious studies]?”

And I, like most of my classmates, both hated and dreaded that question in equal measure. Because the truth of the matter was that we weren’t 100% sure what was coming next, and even if we were sure what we wanted to come next that did not mean we would get it. And so my answers, as they tend to do when I’m feeling pressured, got sassy. “Oh, I’m going to solve the problems in the Middle East” I would say, or, “I’m going to save the world. Obviously.”

The same thing has happened now that I’m in law school. Except now the question isn’t asking what I’m going to do with my degree, but what kind of law I want to practice. And my answer isn’t as sassy (yet), but currently it’s something along the lines of “I’m not sure, but based on my classes for next year – the kind that won’t make any money”.

And yes, this is a long winded way of saying what my classes are for next year. So, here they are:

Fall Semester

  1. Family Law
  2. Mental Health Law
  3. Business Associations
  4. Clinical Litigation Practice (which is basically my working in the legal aid clinic)

Winter Semester

  1. Civil Procedure
  2. Administrative Law
  3. Immigration and Refugee Law
  4. Feminist Legal Studies Workshop
  5. Clinical Litigation Practice

So yeah, I wasn’t exactly kidding when I said the kinds of law that aren’t the big money makers, but I’m so excited and really there is more to life than money.

  • Kali

Bad News

Things were going just a little too well. That changed.

A couple of weeks ago now I received a Facebook message from my mom’s old boss asking me to call him. When I did he dropped a bomb on me that I definitely did not expect – they had found my mother dead in her apartment.

Within 24 hours I was on a flight to Victoria BC because I had to be there as the next of kin. My friend’s parents paid for the round trip flight using their points even. Everyone both at the school and back in Victoria has been amazingly supportive. I was only able to stay for a week and it was a whirlwind trip – including cleaning out the old apartment, meeting with the funeral directors, holding a small memorial, etc. At this same time we were in the midst of course selection for next year as well. It has been a hectic and chaotic time.

I’m (amazingly) back on track now. I don’t think I’ll need exam deferral (which is good because that would be a real pain with the whole castle thing) even though I’m still a little bit behind where I wish I was. Though, I imagine that’s how a lot of people are thinking at this time since we have our last day of classes on Friday!

My mom and I were always really close – she was a single parent and I her only child so it was always us against the world. I miss her and I always will. With that in mind I thought I would share some of our favourite in jokes here to be preserved.

  1. “You lost me at DNA” – this started when I was in grade 12 and studying for a biology test. I was explaining how DNA and RNA work (not that I remember any of it now) to her in order to help study. I did well on my test, but she was soon lost.
  2. “Why can’t you go get pregnant like a normal girl?” – In case it hasn’t been obvious I’m not exactly a wild child. As much as my mother accepted her geeky, fandom obsessed kid sometimes she just wished I was a little less weird. I think this was said for the first time when I was about 18 or 19. Somewhere in there.
  3. “What’s my password again?” – I definitely got this question too many times to remember when it started. For some reason she was absolutely useless at remembering any of her passwords or emails, etc. Sometimes she would even call me while I was in class and I would call her back, panicking that something was wrong to find out everything/everyone was fine, but she needed her password NOW!
  4. “You know I’d love you even if you were a lesbian…” – Uhhh thanks mom? I’m not, but it’s good to know you’re not a homophobe I guess.
  5. “Why didn’t you tell me I dress like a teenager!” – My teenaged cousin came to visit and my mother realized she owned the same clothes. I did tell you mom, I really did.

We were nothing alike in looks or personality in a lot of ways, but we shared a sense of humor that I will always cherish.

  • Kali

I Capture the Castle


Well, okay, I’m not actually capturing anything, but it seemed like a fun title to reveal my summer plans. Which, again, sadly do not involve any capturing, but does involve a castle!

As you may or may not know if you’ve been following this blog, I attend Queen’s University (the Canadian one). One of the really neat things about Queen’s is the fact that it owns a castle in England. Because why not, right?

Queen’s Law offers two summer programs at the castle – International Business Law and Public International Law. I had been hemming and hawing on this one for awhile. But Kali (I imagine you saying) – it’s a castle! In England! You’ll basically be Harry Potter! While these are all very legitimate arguments, the issue was the price tag attached. But, I was talking to one of my 2L friends yesterday and she pointed out that A: I would be taking classes I wanted to take anyway, B: it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, and C: I don’t have any other summer plans.

So, I filled out a bursary application form and handed in my program application this afternoon. It’s all but official, for part of this summer I’m going to be living in a castle in England. 100 points to Slytherin for taking advantage of a first rate opportunity!

And for those who are wondering – I applied for Public International Law. I’m not super interested in business law (which is unfortunate since that’s where all the money is) and I figured taking business law courses in the condensed and intensive format the castle program requires would probably not be the brightest of ideas.

It may not actually be Hogwarts, but it’s probably the closest I’ll ever get.

  • Kali