Actual Date: March 13th, 2012
Pulling ourselves out of bed at six in the morning, we piled our groggy selves into a coach and said our last farewells to London. Our stay was too short, and I yearned so much to stay longer and soak in more.
The coach dropped us at the D-day Museum at Portsmouth, which wasn’t as exciting and technologically advanced as the Churchill museum but it still did the trick. I bought several last-minute souvenirs for my friends there after realizing that it was going to be my last hour in England. A large group of French teens swarmed the gift store while I was there, and it was intriguing to see how the European youths dressed. They wore a lot more makeup than I’d expected, and they all seemed to be continuously snickering and giggling at something. They acted just like the middle school students in Bloomington, only rambling in a language I couldn’t comprehend.
None of us were looking forward to the scheduled six-hour long “ferry” ride to France as a lot of us were concerned with getting seasick, only to find out that the word “ferry” apparently stands for “cruise ship” in British English. We all expected a tiny boat that would be rough and bumping its way to France, only to find a massive Titanic-like cruise ship that had bars, restaurants and movie theatres! We were immediately comforted and felt like children released at a playground. We went to bars and really took advantage of the different drinking age. The only restaurant in service was the really fancy kind that robbed your bank, so the only thing we could eat were these small sandwiches in the cafeteria that had checkered floors.
We spent the rest of the ride doing silly magazine quizzes, playing games and just enjoying Spring Break. It wasn’t nearly as bad as we expected a boat ride to be. Nobody got seasick even though if you really stood still you could feel the ground moving. It was the first time I’d ever been on a cruise, and I think everyone was amused.
We arrived at Caen late at night. We were starving at ate at the restaurant in the hotel, struggling to order in French. Thankfully Rachel helped clarify the orders. This is when cultural shock really struck, since I realized that I’ve become vulnerable and handicapped in a country where I did not speak their national language. I felt the concierge even snorted at me when I asked about the wifi in my American English. It was that moment when I decided I need to learn French.
Next to us at the hotel lobby, however, was a group of very loud (and perhaps drunk) Americans who were discussing about politics and education. We listened attentively as we ate our delicious tomato panini and soup. They yelled at each other about the debt to China and the terrible need for education reform in the States. I felt ashamed for the fact that their volume seemed capable of traveling through the whole hotel and remembered how we were told to speak in “European volume” because Americans are known for being loud and obnoxious. I finally understood the origin of the stereotype