by Andrew Song
Having finally grown accustomed to Caen, we spent another day exploring and enjoying the various attractions of the city. As usual, I woke up around 7 o’clock in the morning (no later than a regular RL day) to find some classic French bread and yaourt (yogurt) waiting for me at breakfast. After finishing such a delicious meal, my mom brought me to the university where the whole class participated in a game of hacky-sack (a game where you use your legs and feet to keep a small, soft "sack" in the air) before our classes started. In the first half of class, Prof. Laurent asked us to create imaginary scenes between our made-up characters who had supposedly fought in WWII. We were to pretend that our characters had had conversations in a camp before "D-Day" when the Americans stormed the beaches of Normandy. Our group’s (Devin, Chris, Nick, and I) character, "Malik Jean-Claude," (6’9" 285 lbs) spoke deeply about his concerns and his fears about the intense, brutal combat that was sure to happen in the coming battle. Once the groups had finished their abstract conversations, we all practiced how we would them act them out. We then decided to present them to each other on the following day and proceeded to the next part of class.
In the second part of class, we moved on to talk about various events and experiences from WWII. We focused on the pain and suffering that the war had caused on everyone, especially on the French and on their children. We discussed the war’s great influence on daily life, showing that clearly no one would have been able to lead an ordinary life during those times. By acquainting ourselves with the severe circumstances of WWII, we continued to deepen our understanding of the importance of "D-Day" as well as to preview our trip this Saturday to the beach where the battle took place.
After eating lunch at the university restaurant, we watched "Saving Private Ryan" in French with French subtitles. Although it was difficult at first to get used to Tom Hanks, Vin Diesel, and Matt Damon speaking in foreign voices, we eventually managed and appreciated the film greatly. Through Spielberg’s adaptation of "D-Day," we were able to obtain a better sense of the atrocities and the sacrifices that occurred on the beach that day. As a class, we understood the movie pretty well, although at some points the characters used expressions that were completely unknown to us.
Once we finished the film, we had a lot of free time before we had to be home for dinner. Part of the group went into the center of town to look through the plethora of little shops and cafés. The other group (Hamilton, Chris, Devin, Ryan, and I) finally found a gym after a long search through the city. Everyone returned home exhausted having spent a long day filled with activities. I think I speak for the whole group when I say that both speaking and understanding the language have become much easier as we spend more time in France. We are all having less trouble speaking to our parents and to strangers, as we do not just simply nod or say "oui" to everything they say. Our goal now is to perfect the voice inflection which the French use so effortlessly. We look forward to spending another few weeks enjoying the exquisite culture in France.