February – Happy Birthday
I turned 23 in February and celebrated four years as a Christian. I was happy that I had escaped any irreparable screw-ups. However, I spent the time in hospital with a severe eczema flare-up. I needed the time to recover and I intended to do a lot of reading. I ended up playing Civilisation 4 (a computer game) for days on end. The other patients were amused at my explanation of the game. I got discharged in a satisfactory condition and flew back to Tianjin the next day. My flatmate organised a belated birthday party for me in Starbucks. That was after I lost my camera, so I have no photographs of the occasion - except for a photo of the venue which I took last year. I get back into the routine of Peace Institute life. It is my last semester in the school. I mark down the 20 weeks in my diary - so I am already counting the days. I manage to keep my pre-intermediate class, which means I can recycle lesson plans. I arrange my twice-weekly Mandarin lessons. Thursday is my new day off and I start my weekly Starbucks routine. I re-assume my role of Coffee House organiser. Coffee House is a monthly school event where the school invites outsiders to come and participate in English discussions for free. There are other activities and a performance by the teachers. It takes a lot of my time and a lot of my stress. The heating never comes on in my apartment throughout the whole winter. I find out that I don't have to pay the heating fees, which is a small mercy. But the long term effect is that I'm now scared of the cold.