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Monday, February 21, 2011

A visit to the Doctor..

Being sick in a foreign land is an experience in itself all together...:) And when you do, you need to visit a Praxis(doctor's office) or a clinic( term used in India). Foremost you need to take an appointment. Often, the visiting time is given by the office to you.
   Here are a few things you need to know:
1.  In Deutschland, everybody work in the Deutsch language!!! Banks, Schools, Industries, Hospitals...everybody!!! If they happen to know the English language, they first apologize about not being good at the language and then start speaking or they simply do not know or do not want to speak!! Somehow Germans do feel they need to be perfect about the English language and hence hesitate. But honestly, broken English is better than no English to me...:D So what do you do when you do not know the language? Initially, the first few months, whenever the kids needed a shot at the doctor's I took my husband along. Over a period of time, it helped knowing a few german words. So now when I go to the doctors, here's what I say "Hallo, I have a termine at elf uhr". So there you go, two german words, termine means appointment and elf uhr means eleven a'clock!! I think numbers and how to tell the time must be learnt..:) Faces do light up when they know there are german words in between...:D After all the required documentation and billing are done you are asked to be seated in a waiting room. Then comes the fun part!!!!

Source of pic:
2. Since you wear coats throughout the year, you are expected to remove your coat and hang it in the assigned place. Then say a HALLO or GRUß GOTT to everybody seated, sort of greeting all those who are present. Everybody greet you back in unison with a hallo!!! Initially, I found it funny and was shy, but then it is considered rude to not greet. Generally, a waiting room is pretty quiet, there will be hardly any conversation happening between people. You can pass your time leafing through the Deutsch magazines, admiring the indoor plants or simply staring at the white walls...:D  Waiting period is short, though I am told by fellow expats that they have waited for more than an hour to meet the doctor.
3. Once your name is called, you are escorted to the doctor's room. After a handshake and greeting, it's time to inform the doc that you do not speak German. Some show displeasure that you do not know the language and some proceed to give you advise as to begin taking classes or attend an adult school...:D At times, doctors find it hard when they are unable to explain the problem in English. It then is frustrating . So it helps to also learn the parts of the body along with the terms for pain and ache in Deutsch...:D What I love about the doctors here is that medication is given only when absolutely necessary and by that I mean, you need to be seriously very sick. So, if you are a person who is fond of popping pills for the slightest reason, then it is gonna be tough!! Sometimes, medication is provided by the doctor, else you are given a prescription to go to the Apotheke(pharmacist) and buy it yourself. Medicines which you are able to buy over the counter in  your country need a prescription ( not the paracetamol and headache medicines).
4. Once you are done, you bid goodbye to the doctor by shaking hands once again you collect your coat you say TSCHÜS or WIEDERSEHEN which means bye to everybody in the waiting room!!!!!


  1. I can't imagine how difficult it must be when you don't speak the same language as the doctor!

  2. Nice post seeing a doc must be so difficult then..imagine going through the entire drill even if you have just a bad cough!! Ur pic is so cute! Did they notice when u went click click click?

  3. Wow...very intersting post! So, I guess I shouldn't complain when I have to wait to see my doctor for 45+ mins.,huh? Have a good one, May!

  4. Haha Shireen, before the Germans my hubby would be frowning if I went click, click, click at the doc's waiting room...:D I have mentioned the source now in the post. Of course, pic edited by me..;)

  5. WIEDASEN.....I totally knew this one because didn't they say this in one of the songs on Sound of Music?

  6. That must be real hard with the language barrier. I thought the Politicians always said the healthcare in Europe was great.

  7. May, I totally understand! although the Dutch PRIDE themselves on switching over to english, it doesn't mean that they totally understand what is being said. I can say one sentence and they repeat something not even close to what I just

    Everytime I have gone into Germany, there hasn't been one English speaker there..they just stare at me with their mouthes

    You also have to greet everyone when you walk into the waiting room here in The Netherlands. I find that odd aswell but do it so I don't appear rude. Thankfully my husband comes with me to all of my appointments when I need them and translates anything that didn't come across right.

  8. Interesting is also interesting that here in America we accomodate everyone's foreign language, but not in other countries.

  9. "Hallo" and "Guten Tag"!
    Love your post...!!!
    "Tschüss" and "Auf Wiedersehen"
    Liebe Grüße, Petra

  10. Completely agree on the numbers. I know to count and read numbers in Arabic but not in Hindi (and I've forgotten how to read the kannada numerals too)

    One thing I did learn was to take along a secretary from the office until I trained our driver in enough English so he could translate into Arabic for me.

    When neither was available, I would call Riham in the office on my cell, tell her what I wanted to say in English, and she would then translate into Arabic to the person who needed to hear it. This was even after I learnt some basic Arabic. But in cases like doctors and medication, you don't want any miscommunication to happen.

    Totally feel for you, and hope you are better now


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