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I think the best thing about the whole trip was spending so much time with the guys in my class outside of class. For three days I shared a room with Ryouta, Kura, Koujirou, and Fuchiyama. Jus tlike on the Ooita trip, they joked a lot about how Anita was definitely my girlfriend. Kura learned some funny English words that he could use and nobody else would understand, so that was always good for a laugh. “English is convenient” he’d say with that funny smile of his. There was also a bit of wrestling and Judo moves, often occuring when Kura or I would try to get Ryouta’s new cellphone to read his mails to his girlfriend. Going to Onsen was interesting! A lot like the Ooita trip again, but with even more people, and completely not like going with the other inbounds. There’s a lot more joking around about very different things.

When we were at the ski kill, Kura and Ryouta would always want to go pick up girls. I’m pretty sure they just wanted to use me like some cuty puppy that attracts girls… but still it was fun. A few times I’d talk to some girls from other high schools when they weren’t around and when they found out they pretend to be upset. Once Kura found “traitor” in my dictionary, that become my new nickname for the week.

Outside of the other inbounds, I’d say those two are my best friends now. I guess I’m lucky, because some of the others don’t have Japanese friends like that. Sure, everybody seems to like the exchange students, but real friends are harder to do. True, I don’t know if I’m friends with Kura and Ryouta just because I’m the exchange student or not, but what does it matter? I can do things with them and have fun, which is something the others don’t have. Maybe it’s because I’m alone in Nagasaki and I can’t hang out with the others like they do in Sasebo.

One of the fun things I did just lately with Kura was go to Karaoke with him, his girlfriend, and a friend of hers. We met at 10 and went to that cheap place in ront of Chuobashi for a good 4 hours or so. We had lunch at KFC and went off to take Purikura at three different game centres. It was fun, although I found it hard to find things to say to either Kimiko or Chiaki. Kura and I did have a bit of fun calling Kimiko crazy and avoiding telling her what it meant. Or at least what it really meant. (It ended up as “klazy” on some purikura later that day.)

Also around winter vacation time, Takashi and I met up with Shuntaro and Fukuda (I think that’s his name… also known as “Turkey”) and went to a little live concert near Cybac. There were quite a few guys from Kaisei there, including in the band, and of course live concerts are always fun. Or course I was basically just happy that they played some Japanese songs I recognized like some from Kick the Can Crew, Mongol 800, and Dragon Ash.

Speaking of which, and I’m sure this is entirely because of Kura, Chemistry is now basically my favourite Japanese group. I bought their CD the day it came out. I figured I liked them enough to shell out the 3000en instead of just making a copy. Of course I got my Rotary allowance the same day, so that might have influenced me a bit! I found out that Chemistry is having a concert here in Nagasaki (at Brick Hall) in April. I really want to go! Maybe one of the Rotarians will turn out to own the Brick Hall and get me some free tickets – normal price is 5250en (about $70). I know Kura wants to go too, but isn’t sure if he will yet. My host mom said it would probably be okay to go, as long as I could get someone to go with me. I think the only inbound who could afford it would be Lars… I’m not sure of the situation with Jose and Mathilde, but I know the other 3 Saseboians are always broke… so I think I’ll see if I can tag along with Kura, assuming of course he ends up going.

While on the subject of music, I got my MD player just after New Years. (Sorry, I’m not paying attention to chronological order here… I’ll get to New Years later.) It’s basically top-of-the-line, which made it cost a mean 32000en (~$425). First of all, it can record which knocks the price up a fair bit, but it’s also a Net MD, so it has a USB port and can download a full CD from the computer to an MD in just a couple minutes. I noticed just yesterday it says your only supposed to use it in Japan on a Japanese operating system… we’ll see how much of an obstacle that will turn out to be once I get home. I definitely have no plans to return it! I copied every CD I brought with e to MD, sometimes getting 6 albums or 80 tracks on a single MD. Of course that’s at LP4, but it’s not like I can tell the difference. MDs are really great because they aren’t as limited as CDs – you can add, move, delete, and rename tracks anytime. My MD can even display Kanji and hiragana in song titles on the headphone remote! The MD itself will only display 1-byte katakana, like any other MD, but this way I’ll always have the katakana displayed in case I forget how to read the Kanji (and believe me, I’m sure I’ll forget eventually).

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