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Last Friday, Katie (another volunteer) and I hopped on a train from the Chengdu train station 成都东火车站 for a 37 hour ride to Hainan, an island off the south side of mainland China. The ride started off normal and I think we went to bed around 9:30. At about 3am I woke up to a man standing next to me. I wasn’t really conscious though. I remember thinking that there wasn’t a man in my car, so I opened my eyes again. This time, the man turned around and ran out and a train guard ran in. Seconds later the guard left and started running and yelling. Turns out the guy jumped off the train! Before I knew it the guard was back in our car and everyone was up, checking there things, and talking about what had just happened. As I was sitting there I realized i could hear what everyone was saying and that I could no longer hear my music. So I grabbed my headphones and found them to not be plugged into anything. The man swiped my iPod right from my headphones without me noticing! He had also grabbed a ladies bag with her ID, cell phone, and clothes.

The rest of the train ride was as smooth as a 37 hour train ride could be. Filled with lots of sleeping, instant noodles, good conversation, and laughs. When we reached the edge of mainland China, our train was disconnected I to pieces and places on a boat! Once on the island we were put back together.

I had a hostel for the week and Katie was staying at a families house while she took language classes nearby. We spent Sunday at a beach, Monday we adventured around the city for a bit, Tuesday we went to another beach, Wednesday we walked around an old town, and Thursday another friend arrived. We tried to go to the beach on Thursday, but as soon as we arrived it started raining so we just sat under an umbrella and hung out for a bit. Today, Friday, we are headed to Sanya, at the south of the island. I will head back to Haikou on Sunday and catch another 37 hour train, this time alone, to Chengdu. I’ll arrive in Chengdu on the 19th and leave for Bangkok on the 20th.

I debated for awhile on whether to come with Katie, but am super glad I did! It’s been a ton of fun hanging out and getting to spend some days in the sun. Plus, I was pretty sick of my apartment. I’m having a little difficulty sleeping due to the night robber and paranoia that all my stuff is now going to be stolen, but besides that it’s a great time with great friends!

It’s been pretty long since I have written anything. The summer came and went. I can’t believe how quickly time went, even with me not doing very much.

In April I hurt my ankle playing soccer. It led to a number of doctor visits in Chinese hospitals, which are more like airports, and me laying pretty low. Hospitals here are an experience. ATMs line the walls and people flood the waiting rooms. When you finally get in to see a doctor, from my experience, you typically are being constantly peered in on from the other anxiously awaiting patients. Privacy is definitely something that doesn’t exist in the hospitals here. People are walking in and out of the rooms, asking questions to the doctors even as you are sitting there, and getting undressed so they’re ready when you’re done. When I went in for an MRI I was given cotton balls for my ears, but those barely drowned out the noise of the monster of a machine around me.

I ended up not going to Summer Project, 2 weeks of teaching Chinese teachers English and teaching methodologies from back home. It’s required of all volunteers during our first summer break, but because of my injury I was told not to go. Instead, I went to the Peace Corps office and helped out around there for a week.

After a lot of back and forth I am being sent to Bangkok in mid-August to have arthroscopic surgery on my ankle. I have an OCD lesion that they will hopefully be able to take care of with this minimally invasive procedure. Best case, I’m in a boot for a little while. Worst case, I’ll be sent home for more surgery.

A lot of this has caused difficulty for me here. I felt pretty trapped at my school because walking for long periods of time caused pain and I was no longer able to play soccer or exercise. It’s now been about 15 weeks since my initial injury. Now I just have to make it 2 more before things move towards a direction of healing.

I will head to an island off the coast of China, Haikou, with another volunteer for a week and then meet the PCMOs before I get on the plane for Bangkok in Chengdu.

I really hope that with all of this taken care of I can get back to a normal, active life again and really make the most of my last year here. Looking back I can’t believe how quickly it all went. Looking forward it seems like it will pass in the blink of an eye. I already have plans for traveling throughout the semester and know that Spring Festival will be here before I know it. My second semester of this coming year will bring forth plans of traveling home, COS conference, and hopefully many beautiful parting memories.

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