Uh, no, I'm not.
The only proper excuse is sickness according to the school's official rules and of course that isn't happening. I can assure all of you though that I am sick in a sense, darn it. I'm sick for the friendly and familiar face of family, aka, Jessica! However, I think it still may be in my best interest to be open with my teachers about my situation especially considering that if I was a secretary, I wouldn't buy it for a minute that a student was "sick" the Friday before Spring Break. Better to be honest in the beginning than getting caught at the end probably.
So naturally, I couldn’t just continue the serious business of studying into the night after that, so I went to Mardi Café. Mardi Café is one of the best ideas the people of CIDEF/UCO ever thought of. Invite a bunch of foreign and French students to just meet up at the bars and talk. English, French, Spanish, and Chinese are thrown about everywhere over pints of Kronenbourg and the occasional lesser known languages get their spotlight with impromptu tutoring lessons. I love it. Every bar has its own personality and they always have a special going on for Mardi Café. Take the 2 euro pint deals. They are very worth. Alcohol for that quantity doesn’t get much cheaper in that scene. I will very, very soon devote a whole entry just to Mardi Café because it is just necessary.
Wednesday, I took the big test in Social-Cultural and was so happy to get it done! I was even more happy to find out the Ducs (Anger’s Hockey team with the English translation of “owls”) were playing that evening and a bunch of people were going so that’s is where I was last night.
Les Ducs won 3-2. It was very fun though I found myself talking American politics and culture to this guy from Turkey who is interning here in France. This is not the first time I’ve been bombarded with questions about my home country. As an American, one becomes a natural target by all nationalities for political discussion and/or ridicule and it is absolutely necessary to be as diplomatic and non-aggressive as possible. Yet, at the same time, I have a pride issue about my nation I have learned since being here so I give myself the added challenge of not bowing down to every criticism that comes my way about the affaires of my country. I don’t agree with everything the government does. I don’t think we are the best, most perfect nation in the world. However, I know no other country is perfect either.
Being diplomatic just in general though is not always easy. A neutral statement in America is not always considered a neutral statement by another nationality. For example, another American can easily accept saying that one respects Hillary Clinton professionally but finds her personal actions confusing. This is not so for a Frenchman who will then passionately criticize our “ridiculous” concern over the personal lives of our leaders. Even France’s values and priorities can be vastly different than ours despite our shared occidental status.
To finish that story up, the Turkish guy found talking to me very satisfying and thought that I should go into international politics. Also, I apparently remind him of Hillary Clinton…All my conservative Republican friends, leave your "clever" comments for Facebook messaging. I'm talking to you, Ryan.
Maybe though it is my new haircut.
ANYWAY, back to Normandy!
I feel like such a broken record but I felt that this excursion was more than worth my time as an American and as someone who is interested in the culture of Europe. Normandy is a huge part of the culture of Europe and especially France. D-Day is proof that the French have very long, passionate memories, as it is an obvious honor to them to have perfect foreigners buried in their country. They make sure you know it, too, if they get the chance. This has been particularly true for my host family who is still bragging that their last American student that stayed with them is the granddaughter of a D-Day vet.
Words cannot justify the visit. Truly for me Normandy was a pilgrimage more than anything.
I also recommend visiting the German cemetery as well. It is a striking contrast to the American one. In comparison to the brilliant white crosses shining in contrast to the Normandy sky, the dark small one’s of the German cemetery seem to want to blend in. Both are sad but I think the German cemetery is the most somber of all but the strongest communicator of what is to be learned of World War II. I think it is too often forgotten that the German soldiers were men, too, and not Hitler clones. They did their duty for their family and their country and when one comes to their resting place, it is hard not to respect that.
I was actually “corrected” by a fellow American classmate that they shouldn’t be recognized like this with the present cemetery and shrine to peace that we visited, as they were all Nazis. I asked her why she considered them Nazis and she responded because they came from Nazi Germany. I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to an ignorant and (not to mention cruel) answer like that, labeling every German citizen of that time a Nazi. Perhaps because of this lack of understanding, it is just as important to recognize the German cemetery as the American one. War is many things but it is not black and white.
I end on an upbeat note! An very American thing (Obama) with a very French thing (Sarkozy) from a French newspaper. According to the paper, they were on their way to a conference. I take it they were pressed for time.