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When a PCV goes home

It’s been quite the week. I came thinking that I was going to be walking almost immediately after surgery only to find out Thursday before my surgery that they would in fact be drilling holes and I wouldn’t be able to put any weight on my right foot for 6 weeks. From there I had a decision to make, recover in China or go home for recovery.

Something about spending 6 weeks on crutches by myself in China had me really worried. Getting around would be pretty difficult because China is very inaccessible when you cant walk. Elevators, escalators, or ramps either don’t exist or don’t work most of the time. Also, again, Id be on my own for a recovery time long enough for things to be difficult. Fortunately, after talking to Peace Corps China I was told I could go home for my recovery and as long as I was cleared from a doctor back home Id be able to return.

So now Im getting ready to head home. It’s exciting, but right now I think Im more scared and nervous. In all my prep and this past year as a volunteer I never really expected to go home during service. I thought about it and sometimes wished it, but now it is literally tomorrow. I know I’ve changed and I know home is still home and that’s what’s worrisome. Im nervous people won’t understand me or that they’ll think I’ve just been on some extended vacation. Im worried I’ll no longer understand life back home. A year can be short and this year certainly flew by, but at the same time so much in my life has changed. So much about me is new, even for me, and I don’t know how the new me and my old life will collide.

Time in Bangkok

Wednesday, August 20th: flight from Chengdu to Bangkok

Thursday: met with a fellow China PCV for lunch and had a doctors appointment in the evening

Friday: spent the entire day exploring every inch of Bangkok I could. I made it to the Grand Palace, multiple temples, in and out of local streets where people looked at me like “what’s she doing here?,” and at night I ventured through the red light district. At midnight I walked to the ER and was admitted into the hospital

Saturday: at 5:30am I was brought down for surgery. I was back in my room by 11am

Sunday: recovery in hospital

Monday: discharged around 4pm

Tuesday-Friday: spent a lot of time in my hotel room, but also made it out for mini adventures as I felt I could. There’s another PCV here from Micronesia and we got together for dinner multiple nights.

Saturday (today): I have a doctors appointment at 3

Sunday, August 31st: I fly out of Bangkok at 8:30am to Hong Kong to catch a connection to Texas and then a flight to Cleveland, home. I should arrive around 10pm.

Obviously I’ve been in China for the past year and a few weeks now. For me this really meant that I lost all contact with new music back home. I’ve never really been one to keep up with music. I listen to it, dance to it, but never kept track of the titles, musicians, etc. Now that I’m heading home I figured I should give a listen to what I am guessing are popular songs back home. Basically I YouTubed T. Swifts new song and let that guide the next few that played. Here are my reactions.

T. Swift: Shake It Off
You’re right, haters gonna hate, but something about you makes me a hater. To me it seems like you try so hard to stick it to the people who hurt you in life instead of just learning from them and moving on. Also, you’re obsessed with your own music and I can’t stand that. This is at least the second song of yours where you refer to yourself or your song as being all that. “Just think while you been getting down and out about the liars
And the dirty dirty cheats of the world. You could have been getting down to this sick beat.”

Katy Perry: This Is How We Do
First things first. Are heart shaped sunglasses popular back home now because you wear them in this video?? Because I have a pair and really don’t want people to think it’s because of you, no offense.
This song is either for college kids or the Katy Perry’s of the world who at 29 can still be “straight stuntin’.” I wish it was no big deal, but at some point this scene fizzles out and you find yourself a Peace Corps Volunteer eating noodles for breakfast because that’s the typical cuisine, not because all you can afford is ramen noodles and and bottle service with your rent money.

Meghan Trainor: All About That Bass
Maybe it’s cause I don’t know you or because this song is super catchy, but for now, I like it! I’m also gonna give it to her for not feeling like she needs to defend her size, “She says, boys they like a little more booty to hold at night. You know I won’t be no stick figure, silicone Barbie doll, So, if that’s what’s you’re into, Then go ahead and move along.” You tell em! Now just don’t go and become a size 2 overnight now that your some big shot.

Iggy Azalea: Fancy
If you’re the “realest,” then why is this entire video of you impersonating Cher and Dionne?? I think you’re the one that’s “clueless.”

Maybe I’m old and out of date now, but most of these songs just seem a little ridiculous to me. After living in a developing country and hearing stories from other PCVs it just seems ridiculous to be listening to songs about Maserati’s, popping bottles, and swagger.

This week in Bangkok has really been the most time I’ve had exposure to news and the harsh reality of what’s happening all over the world. One minute I’ll be watching CNN reporting on the Ferguson shooting or ISIS and the next thing I know there’s a commercial for an award show. I think we make it too easy for ourselves to not care or push things aside. Why not go shopping or spend hours playing some Kim Kardashian game, instead of caring about the tragedies other people face everyday. I understand the need for release and fun and the celebrity world helps us do all of that, but it seems excessive and a poor excuse to not do something about what’s happening around the world.

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!

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