Due to the fact that I was sick earlier this semester, I was so lucky to have the
opportunity to go to the doctor. Now, one would never assume that a little doctor
visit would be something to write home about, but I ended up finding it very
interesting and different. I was almost refusing to go to the doctor out of fear, but
one of the directors of my program, Cedric, really encouraged that I go. Not only
that, but he called the doctor and made an appointment for me, and only decided to
tell me after. Regardless, I guess I was relieved. I would be going to the doctor and
hoping to fix whatever was wrong with me…though I was figuring that it was
allergies, of course. That’s the first difference I noticed between “doctor visits.” It
was so easy to make an appointment; you call, and then you have an appointment.
There were tons of openings. I could have even gone to the doctor the same day, but
I decided it would be easier to go tomorrow.
I was really nervous to actually go to the doctor. One, I had no idea where I
was going. Two, I had no idea what to do when I got there, and three; I had no idea
what to actually expect. I thought of just not going all together, just acting like the
appointment did not exist. But, then I really thought about it and figured, if I do not
go to the doctor, I’ll just continue feeling sick so I might as well deal. I was on my
way to the doctors; I hopped on the tram and headed in a direction I’ve never been,
hoping for the best.
After about a ten-minute tram ride I arrived at the stop for the doctor’s office.
I followed the directions Cedric gave me and came up to this door. Now there wasn’t
some big doctor sign outside the office, just a small plaque that said the doctor’s
name. There was also this small sign on a piece of computer paper that said, “Ring
the bell, then come in,” so, I did. What I was expecting when I walked into this
“office” was not at all what I saw when I actually walked in. I walked in, and saw
another difference—a dark room with chairs, and one side table. There was no
check-in desk, no sign in, no nothing. I had no idea what to do. Usually, when I go to
the doctor, I arrive and check-in. I go up to the desk, maybe give them my insurance
card, potentially fill out a few forms, and then wait. Here, there was none of that.
There was not even anything on the wall to tell me what to do; only a small sign that
talked about being reimbursed. After waiting for a while, I went over to the one
another door in the place (besides the bathroom and the door I walked in) and
listened. I realize that this sounds extremely creepy but I was at a complete loss.
Does he know I’m here? Should I knock on the door? Should I wait? Should I do
anything? I decided to wait, and only felt better once another woman came in and
did the exact same thing I was doing.
After waiting for about fifteen minutes (due to the fact I arrived early
thinking I would have to fill out paper work), the doctor finally came out. Just him. I
walked into the other room, and came into another unexpected surprise. It was just
a room with a desk, an examination table, and a few cabinets; nothing at all like a
doctor’s office back home. Back home, there are usually multiple offices, multiple
doctors, and rooms that are small with lots of cabinets and filled with equipment.
There wasn’t much in this doctor’s room…and it was all white.
The came into the office and he asked me to sit down at the desk. I did so and
he began asking me what was wrong and how I was feeling. Here came another
difference. Where was the nurse? Usually, there’s a nurse who does all the “routine”
things, but here, it was just him. He asked the questions, and he was the one actually
listening and hearing what I had to say. I’m so used to having to talk to a nurse, and
then to the “real” doctor. Talking to the doctor right away made everything so much
easier. It made it a lot more personal too and I liked that aspect. I told him my
symptoms, and we then went over to the examination table where he did all the
“routine” checks. The thing was, he went pretty quickly. It didn’t seem like he was
actually “looking” to see if anything was wrong. Finally, he said he was done. I was
so shocked that he was already finished that I thought I didn’t hear him correctly, so
I continued to sit on the examination table. Once he motioned back to the desk, I
realized he really was done. I sat back down at the desk, and he told me that it was
indeed allergies. Surprise. He then prescribed me some medicines that are usually
over the counter and sent me on my way.
I went to the pharmacy, which was conveniently right next store, and asked
the woman to fill in my prescription. A major difference about pharmacies in France
and in the States is that in France, you have to go to the counter to get what you are
looking for. Everything is behind the counter, even simple cough medicine. It’s very
different because I can usually just pick something up at CVS, but here in France I
have to actually ask for what I’m looking for instead of getting it myself. Even
rubbing alcohol. Another major difference is that, everything is reimbursed, or most
things. My entire doctors visit and all of the medicine prescribed is going to be
reimbursed. This made the entire experience all worthwhile…knowing I was getting
my money back in the end. Overall, it was an interesting cultural learning