Injury, Pain, and Silver Linings

When thinking about study abroad insurance, I didn’t put much thought into it. I didn’t want to think I would ever have to actually use it, but today I get to be the chosen one to tell you how it works. All in all, it was definitely different than how things work in the United States, but wasn’t too bad.

Let’s start at the beginning:

I made a little mistake this week…I landed incorrectly in a gymnastics class I was taking and managed to dislocate my knee. After a lovely trip to the hospital and 4 hours later, I’m dropped off at my dorm with a pair of crutches, a full-leg brace, a useless leg, and a lot of paperwork.

Now here’s what happened:

After I injured my leg and sat with cold paper towels on it (ice doesn’t really exist over here) I didn’t quite know how to seek medical help. My city is a hugely bus-dominant area with no Uber or any sort of online car pickup service. So, unless I wanted to hobble to the bus and cram my dead leg next to some old lady reading a newspaper, I needed an ambulance.

 

 

The first thing the ambulance EMTs did after strapping me into a stretcher was figure out insurance. I had my insurance card on my phone as well as a picture of my passport (they required official identification) and off we went to the hospital, sirens and everything.

Once in the hospital, there was a seemingly unorganized system. I was wheeled into a hallway in front of a door, straight past the waiting room, and just waited for the doctor to open the door. Not sure why I didn’t have to register with the front desk, maybe it was because I was an “emergency situation” or the ambulance EMTs talked to them for me.

Also, note that no one thus far spoke more than 5 words of English. Thankfully, I was with my gymnastics coach who translated.

 

For some reason, the ambulance ride and the x-ray and the small operation they did were all free. Not sure why, definitely not complaining. I did pay full price for everything prescribed, kept every single piece of paper given to me, and filed a health insurance claim the VERY next day. (I highly recommend keeping any sort of paper possible and sending them to your insurance ASAP, while everything is fresh in everyone’s mind).

 

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The unforgettable moment of being rolled down the street in a stretcher

Once with the doctor, I was X-Rayed and poked, then a few hours later was sent away with a PRESCRIPTION for crutches, a brace, and some drugs. Let me highlight that they did not provide them for me. So, being unable to walk, my coach took the prescriptions, and me on the stretcher, and ROLLED me down the road until we found a pharmacy that could fulfill the prescription (paying full price, out of pocket). Then, after I had gotten the goods and could finally stand, we hauled the stretcher back to the hospital.

Overall, the process wasn’t terribly painful (my leg, however, is a different story). If you are in a situation similar to mine, here’s my advice:

 

 

  • Have someone who can translate for you. The doctor spoke English, but the nurses, EMTs, and radiologists didn’t. If you aren’t fluent in the local language, find someone who is.
  • Don’t be afraid to call an ambulance. I was really worried an ambulance would
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    You will get lots of papers. Probably not in English. KEEP THEM ALL!

    clean out my entire study abroad allowance, and almost didn’t go to the doctor because of it.

  • HAVE YOUR INSURANCE INFORMATION WITH YOU. I didn’t have a physical insurance card printed out, nor my actual passport with me. Try and always carry them with you, other places might not be nearly as flexible about this and might refuse digital copies.
  • Be aware that hospitals are different than in the United States. Not everything is as convenient and you might have to work to get necessary supplies for your injury (AKA bring someone with you!!)
  • Keep absolutely everything you are given, and try to get originals. File your health insurance claim as soon as possible!
  • Try to be positive. My European lifestyle was definitely not made for those on crutches. My dorm is at the top of a hill and half a mile from the nearest bus stop. Injuries aren’t easy or convenient, but positive attitudes and optimism won’t hurt anything!

Stay tuned for either a how-to guide on navigating a city on crutches, or (hopefully) a look into the Czech physical therapist department!


Hannah Langford

CZECH REPUBLIC – MASARYK UNIVERSITY, 2018 FALL

Hannah Langford is taking a break from studying Integrated Sciences at DU to study history and culture at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. She’s looking forward to exploring the unique geography and outdoor opportunities in the area and the surrounding countries. She’s also looking  forward to eating a lot of chocolate.

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My not so sweet, very emotionally confusing actually, 16…

16. What a “famous” number. This number symbolizes so much. You have your sweet 16 to symbolize that you’re closer to some faint understanding of adulthood. It is apparently also the number of introspection. Perhaps that’s why we have sweet 16s. To prompt some sort of introspective analysis about what we’ve been doing with our lives thus far and to try and figure out what the heck we are supposed to do with our future lives. But for me, this number brings very mixed emotions. Today, November 5th, 2018, marks only 16 days left in my program.

I am quite excited to get back home to the United States and be back with family and start working again (because abroad has drained my bank account), but there are also very sad emotions that come with this 16 day mark. I am sad to leave friends and this beautiful country that I have called home for many months now. Going abroad is weird. No one really told me but it’s not an easy notion. You go away from your home for multiple months, in my case close to 5. And while you are here, the first month feels like vacation. It feels like the time will pass so quickly and you’re just here to hang out and do crazy things all the time. So I had the notion that I needed to be doing something every single day that first month that I was here, and I did a pretty good job at living up to that! I was able to do something crazy fun pretty much every single day that I was here for the first month because it was all brand new and I was exploring this beautiful place called South Africa.

But then the realization set in that this is not vacation. This is not a short term kind of thing. This is LIVING in another country. It took me way longer than it should have, in my personal and professional opinion, to come to this realization. It took me a lot longer to realize that it was okay to watch Netflix while I was abroad. It was okay to spend an entire afternoon reading and just hanging around. I didn’t have to do something every single day that was crazy and out of this world. I could just relax and be with myself, and that was okay 🙂

At 16 days left, I have learned so much about myself and what it is like to live in another country.

  • I learned that I really am not good with change. This was something that I knew already but I also had the opportunity to learn how to cope with change. How to be okay with change.
  • I now have a newfound appreciation for people that are seriously learning new languages that aren’t their mother tongue. There is so much importance in learning another language and it opens so many doors for you. My 7 year relationship with Spanish has given me few real life applications and that is something that really disappoints me. I want nothing more than to be able to speak a new language. (I tried learning Afrikaans, a local language of South Africa, and that was quite a trip within itself. I can show off my two phrases I know when I see you!)
  • I learned that a country is more than just its attractions. The friendships that I have gained while being abroad have been ones that I will cherish for the rest of my life. So many people have positively influenced my life while I have been here and I can’t thank them enough! I wish that I could take them all home with my back to Colorado.

So I have 16 days left and there are a lot of mixed emotions. I want to be back home very badly but I also don’t want to leave everything that I have here. I only have two more exams while I am here, on the 10th and 17th so I will just be relaxing and taking in everything that Port Elizabeth has to offer me.

My experience abroad has taught me not to judge anything from a single story. There are so many different ways to experience abroad, there is not one set understanding about what you will learn or experience while you are. I have learned to go with the flow while being here and take it as it comes. (this was my lame attempt at trying to connect my featured image for this post to what I am saying…)

Enjoy just a few photos that I have cherished from being here and some people who have really made this experience so much more memorable 🙂 (there are so many more!!)

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Corrina Teague

SOUTH AFRICA– NELSON MANDELA UNIVERSITY, 2018 FALL

Corrina Teague is a Hospitality Management major. She is attending the ISA: Nelson Mandela University program in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, during the Fall 2018 term. She is hoping to have local experiences and see the natural beauties of South Africa while abroad.

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