Nagasaki is really a beautiful place. There are incredibly steep mountains absolutely everywhere, and most have buildings going straight up the side. It’s like I have a bird’s eye view of everything all the time. From my bedroom window here I can see down into a big valley and across to houses on the next mountain. The Kumazawa’s house is right on the edge of a cliff. Well actually, that’s nothing special because most houses here are like that. It’s interesting just to drive around the city. Most of the streets are very narrow, but the cars are more compact. I’m always amazed at the way my okaasan can back up aloong the thing driveway and around a corner with only a few inches clearance.

It’s a very exotic place in many ways. There are huge spiders around in the trees and we found a couple praying mantises (I think) around the house already. I don’t think it’s much hotter than a Rothesay summer, but because it’s so humid all the time it feels like it is. It’s been raining a fair bit, though. There’s a typhoon headed our way now, but it’s probably going to pass us on the west.

Our first Rotary orientation was an absolute blast! I met up with the seven other exchange students in this district. There’s Anita (Aussie), Timo (Germany), Lars (Norway), Mathilde (France), Jose (Mexico), Suzanne (Holland), and Janelle (US. Having Anita around was great because she’s been here since Jan, and could help us with translating. Some of the Rotex stayed with us too, and they were fun. We had Japanese classes for three hours on three days, where we learned lots of greetings, some verbs, how to tell time, and a few other essentials. Our teacher didn’t speak English unless she absolutely had to, so Anita has handy yet again. There are more classes every Tuesday in Sasebo, but my Rotary meetings are at the same time. I’d still like to go afterwards, to see the other inbounds, but I don’t know if that’ll work out. I do have my own Japanese lessons here starting in October at an all girls school, which will make spending the weekdays at Kaisei (the all boys school) a littel more bearable.

I went around town today with otoosan, learning how to use the train and buses. I’m not sure I know exactly what I’m doing yet, but I have a rough idea of where all the right stops are. I’m trying to learn Kanji in addition to hiragana and katakana, but I only know a few obvious ones now, like the symbol for yen. My vocabulary is still pathetic, but I’m slowly working away at it.

I love spending time with my okaasan alone because she doesn’t speak any English. People who can speak it do, which makes it harder to build vocabulary. With okaasan, we have to speak a mishmash of both languages. It’s really funny at times. We went grocery shopping together. I think I told her what ceral to buy but I’m not sure. Oh well, it did have Charlie Brown on the box.

School starts soon and I have no idea what that will be like. All I know is that I definitely want to do something traditional, like kendo or something. That and uy a cell phone… although I need to wait until my bank cheque clears. If only I’d brought traveller’s cheques! At least I get my monthly ¥10000 on Tuesday.

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