Dienstag, 26. Februar 2008

*Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag!*

Since today is my birthday, I find it fitting to talk about birthdays this time.

Birthdays in Germany are amusingly important. In my experience, birthdays become just another day after you turn 19 or so, and then the big ones are at 40, 50, 60, 80, and 90. (Don't ask me why I've never seen a 70-year-old bash.) So when I saw how important birthdays are to people in Germany, and at any age, I was a little surprised. The first two birthdays I thought were exceptions. However, I soon found a few things:

1. Never, ever wish someone a happy birthday before it's their birthday. It's bad luck.
2. Don't expect anyone to do anything on their birthday. It's their day and they don't want to get up early or go to a meeting.
3. Lots of food, friends, and family.
4. Real gifts.

Samstag, 2. Februar 2008

*Doctor Appointments*

Since this week marks this second time I've gone to the doctor in Germany, why not post about that?

Walking into the doctor's office, you hand them your insurance card which has a chip in it. They get your info from it, you pay the deductible, and the nurse asks if you need an "Überweisung" which is a card you can bring to another doctor so you don't have to pay the deductible again. In other words, you can go to as many doctors as you need to each quarter of the year and only pay once. You are told to go sit down. When you go into the waiting room, you say "hello" or "good day" to the room in general, and everyone murmurs something back. Your coat, gloves, scarves, etc. should be hung up, and everyone watches you while you do that. Once you sit down, no one looks each other in the eye or speaks. You are surprised by how many people are scheduled at the same time for one doctor--it's a good fifteen to twenty people. Every now and then, a name is called over a loudspeaker and someone leaves the room. Patients who have already seen the doctor come back to retrieve their things and say "goodbye" or "see you later" as they leave, which is promptly answered by all twenty waiting patients. You wait. And wait. And wait.

Finally, your name is called and you are directed to a certain room. There you wait in a room without the lights on. Apparently they think the light coming through the window is enough. Finally, the doctor comes in. He takes a look, asks a few questions, spreads some goop, has the nurse put on a bandaid, doesn't really answer your questions, and disappears out of the room saying that the nurse can answer your questions. The nurse doesn't answer your questions. You remember that you heard German doctors didn't have personable appointments and go to get your coat, almost forgetting to say goodbye as you leave the waiting room.
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