A cold beach. Unfathomable to a native South Floridian. While I could not enjoy the water (I was advised not to enter the water because it was too cold), I did enjoy the surroundings. The course I was participating in was coming to a close, and as such, we celebrated by visiting Scheveningen Beach, and enjoying various seafood, sausages, chicken and salad at “The Fat Mermaid,” a restaurant overlooking the beach. I loved how there were groups of friends, couples and business partners enjoying themselves on a Thursday evening. I also felt fortunate to have this unique experience to speak with my professors and classmates on a more informal basis. One of my professors from that week told me a fun fact about the word Scheveningen. Apparently, Germans have difficulty pronouncing the Sch in the Dutch way, so the Dutch used the term as a Shibboleth, or a word whose variations in pronunciation or style are used to differentiate members of in-groups from those of out-groups, to identify German spies in WWII. The term Shibboleth is a Hebrew word that was used for a similar situation. This story is documented in the bible (and below).
Recorded in the Book of James, chapter 12, after the inhabitants of Gilead inflicted a military defeat upon the invading tribe of Ephraim (around 1370–1070 BCE), the surviving Ephraimites tried to cross the River Jordan back into their home territory and the Gileadites secured the river’s fords to stop them. In order to identify and kill these Ephraimites, the Gileadites told each suspected survivor to say the word shibboleth. The Ephraimite dialect did not contain the “sh” sound and so those who pronounced the word as sibboleth were identified as Ephraimites and killed. In the Bible the anecdote appears thus (with the word already in its current English spelling):
And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay;
Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.
(Thanks Wiki lol)
By this point in the class, I had made a good group of friends who also happened to be studying law in their home countries. Ashwin (Indian) and Kevin (Chinese) and JunHun (Korean) had sense of humors that were as witty and spontaneous as mine, so naturally, we hit it off and explored different sites in The Hague. Kevin and I even met up later in London with a fellow traveler (future blog post). My friend Malgorzata, is a law professor in Poland, so she was able to provide a unique perspective in class discussions.
The funniest part about this part of our experience was trying to figure out what I was going to drink. We all had 3 drink tickets, which would allow us to have any drink on the menu. I ordered a lemonade, but the waitress was confused about what I meant.
According to Wikipedia (I hate to cite this website as a reference, but it was the most credible choice):
Lemonade is the name for a number of sweetened beverages found around the world, all characterized by lemon flavoring.
Most lemonade varieties can be separated into two distinct types: cloudy, and clear, each known simply as “lemonade” in countries where dominant. Cloudy lemonade, generally found in North America and India, is a traditionally homemade drink made with lemon juice, water, and sweetened with sugar or honey.
Found in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, clear lemonade is a lemon, or lemon-lime flavored, carbonated soft drink.
In many European countries, the French word lemonade has come to mean “soft drink,” regardless of flavor.
For my second drink, one of my dinner companions suggested that I try a famous Dutch beer. While I typically do not drink beer, I am always willing to try new things. The Dutch are one of the top exporters of beer in the world so I figured that it had to taste alright. Kevin suggested that I try a white beer (Blog post picture) because it has a sweet taste. I was just glad that my dinner mates were alcohol experts and could provide me with some good recommendations based on my preferences (sweet and tasty/doesn’t taste like alcohol lol). I managed to drink a little over half of it, and then one of my mates finished off the rest. According to this person, “a beer should never be wasted.” lol
Following dinner, some of the group parted ways to catch the France vs. Germany game. I was in the minority rooting for France (The Netherlands borders Germany), but I had faith that they would win. The establishment that we went to was also on the beach and very relaxed. It brings a smile to my face remembering the laughs, and the sunset. It was on this occasion that I learned that WATER IS NOT FREE. Unless you specifically request tap water, then you will be charged for the water. I had just finished eating and trying white beer so I did not want to order any more alcoholic drinks and I wasn’t that thirsty. Had I known that I would be charged 3 WHOLE EUROS ($3.36), then I wouldn’t have ordered it. I was on a budget after all. The bright side of this situation was that it was a lesson, although I was tricked (literally) into paying for water 2 times after this occasion (I’ll explain later).
Before the game was just about to end, I decided to run to the restroom. “It’s directly ahead of us” my buddy Ashwin directed. I was just about to enter the bathroom when I noticed that there were two men washing their hands. I instinctively halted and looked around for the female bathroom. I’m sure there was a confused look on my face, because the two men and one of the people I happened to be watching the game with assured me that everyone used the same bathroom. Woah! I mean I was looking at urinals, stalls and two men washing their hands…it was a bit uncomfortable. However, I had to relieve myself. The situation wasn’t threatening, but it was definitely a new experience. It helped that the stalls extended to the ground and up to the ceiling.
Back to the game –The odds were stacked against France because Germany has had an impressive record in the Euro Cup. In the end, though France won and I won my ice cream bet! Moral of this story – trust your gut!