Saturday, December 18, 2010

Around Wallonia

I've been rather busy of late, so I have a lot to write about. But, for the sake of comprehension, I am not going to do one long post. Instead, I'll do a few short(er) posts, organized chronologically. First, I'm going to take a big step back to the end of November.

The last week in November, I traveled all over Wallonia. On Thursday, my French class went to Namur to meet François Emmanuel, the author of La Question Humaine, a novel that we read in class. In the afternoon, we had a poetry workshop. I actually succeeded in doing one of the exercises! We had to write an 8-line poem using an ABAB rhyme scheme and iambic tetrameter. We also had to choose from specific rhyming words, and then add in our own. We could choose from the words lumière, paupière, and ouvert, or dormir, rire, and dire, or the imperfect rhyme of mien and main. We could also use the assonance ciel and soleil, as well as the words yeux and ombres. And, to top it off, we were supposed to write about a woman, but I can't remember why.

Anyway, here's a picture of my class (well, half of it):

And here's my take on the exercise:

Le ciel est noir sur tout le monde
Mais elle ne fait rien que rire
Elle me raconte un histoire quand
L'ombre noir préfère dormir

Maintenant il y a de la lumière
Elle cherche le soleil avec sa main
Mais la fenêtre n'est pas ouverte
Et, en fait, elle trouve la mien

Here's the translation, for those of you who don't speak French:

The sky is black over all the world
But she does nothing but laugh
She tells me a story of when
The black shadow prefers to sleep

Now there is light
She searches the sun with her hand
But the window is not open
And, actually, she finds mine

I'm not sure if the French is perfect, but I thought it was a pretty darn good try for an Anglophone, especially considering I didn't use a dictionary. And it certainly made me feel pretty awesome when the workshop leader asked me to read the poem again, and then complimented me on the imagery of the 6th line. I'm not even sure if he knew that I'm an exchange student.


On Friday, I had another field trip! All of the Rhétos (Seniors) went to Liège for Ethics class. We were supposed to see two expositions, one in the morning and another in the afternoon, but the one in the morning was cancelled. Instead, we went to the aquarium and biological museum at the University de Liège in the morning, and then we had the other exposition in the afternoon. I found the exposition to be very interesting. It was called Enfermement (I think) and it was all about the prison systems in Belgium, shown through pictures and a video. Unfortunately, only half of the group got to see the video, and I was in the half that didn't. But at least I had a good game of President.

Here's the building that held both the aquarium and the exposition hall:

And here is the river that runs through Liège:

Before the exposition, we were free for two hours to go eat lunch. At first, I was with my host sister and some friends. Since we had a lot of time, we went into a store. This particular store had some American clothing, including Abercrombie. I took a look at the price tag...

...this particular sweater cost 118 Euro. People really pay that much!

Most of the group went to eat at Quick, a fast-food restaurant that's quite similar to McDonald's. I'm not a huge fan of fast food, so the two other exchange students and I split away from the group in search of another place to eat. We ended up with another group of friends, and we went to...

Pizza Hut.

Yes, really.

It was a little strange to eat such "American" food in Belgium, but it was just as greasy, cheesy, and horribly satisfying as I remembered.

I didn't take many pictures at the exposition, but I did take a picture of one quote from a prisoner. Dad, I thought you might appreciate this:

Here's the translation:

"In prison, I learned to like books. Reading is the only escape allowed. Reading is also a good way to learn to know the lives of others."


Then, on Saturday, I went to Brussels with my AFS Comité. We went to a Chocolaterie to learn how chocolate is made (and to eat some samples, of course!) and then we walked around a Marché de Noël and in the main square. It was a beautiful day. It was actually sunny!

It was even decorated for Christmas.

I didn't buy anything at the Marché de Noël, but I did find a bookstore and I bought a children's book. It was one of my favorite books when I was little, but I actually don't own it in English. At least I now own it in French. It's called The Three Robbers in English and Les Trois Brigands in French. It's written by Tomi Ungerer, if you'd like to read it.

I also saw two really cool pieces of street art in Brussels. Here they are:

On Sunday, I returned to the south, to Arlon. But Sunday will be the next post. It's time to go decorate the Christmas tree!

Update: I corrected the poem and now the French IS perfect. As it turns out, I only had two faults. I just put masculine instead of feminine.

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