Posts Tagged ‘Health’

Sick in Switzerland

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Photo by romanlilly

Photo by romanlilly

By Kristi Remick

No, this isn’t the really lame sequel to “Sleepless in Seattle”, rather a very real occurrence.  If you are an Expat in Switzerland, odds are you live in one of its many beautiful but germ ridden cities.  While Swiss cities are spotless in comparison to most European cities, they are still giant petri dishes of yuck.  City living requires that you push several buttons throughout your day whether it be to go up a floor or two on an elevator, get off some mode of public transportation or flush a public toilet.  Unless you are the Bubble Boy, your hands will be touching thousands of other people’s hands.  Let’s all together, while holding hands, utter a collective “Ewwwwwww!”  Wait, maybe we shouldn’t…I am sick.

This week I had the misfortune of being diagnosed with Strep Throat and a killer cold.  Upon arrival 6 months ago, I would have likely avoided going to the doctor altogether because I simply didn’t know how to find one.  I would have subsequently developed Rheumatic Fever from untreated Strep and made it on the cover of Popular Science, Part 1 of 2:  ”Expat Hausfrau Damages Heart Valves because She Didn’t Know How to Find a Doctor in Switzerland” followed by Part 2 of 2: “What a Moron”.

Being new to a country means simple things seem extraordinarily difficult.  Language barriers and being drunk on chocolate play integral roles in the “easy things are really freakin hard here” phenomenon.  But don’t fret, there are tried and trusted ways of finding a doctor which I will share with you for a small finders fee: visit my blog From A to Z.

1. This website is fabulous when the English translation function is working.  Unfortunately it doesn’t always work, but you can still make your way around the site as German medical terms are very similar to their English counterparts.  Click on the type of doctor you need and then you will be prompted to select your geographic area.  A detailed list of doctors populates including whether or not the doctor speaks English.  Easy Peasy!

2. Ask around clown: Doesn’t this seem simple enough?  Well, when you first arrive here you don’t really have many people in your social network, but you are likely here to work or watch your partner work, right?  Ask co-workers, neighbors (if you ever see one) or new friends as you begin making them.  From asking a friend I found the best place: Aerztzentrum Sihlcity.  They keep daily appointments open so if you are sick, you can get right in and not wait 3 weeks.  Brilliant!

3. Expat Message Boards: This is probably my least favorite place to get recommendations as I found a massage therapist who was a wee bit on the sadomasochistic side, but on these types of boards people make recommendations all the time.  One you have likely seen before and is a sure bet is

Finally, if I have one piece of advice to share with you, place “finding a doctor” at the top of your priority list when you arrive in Switzerland.  There is nothing worse than being sick and not knowing what to do.

Any other helpful tips for finding a doctor in Switzerland?

When Zurich based Hausfrau Kristi isn’t busy stuffing her face with chocolate, she enjoys writing her own blog From A to Z.

In What Universe Am I a Size Small?

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

In What Universe Am I a Size Small?

I’m visiting in the U.S. for a while, and I feel like Alice through the looking glass who has eaten that part of the mushroom that shrinks her. Everything is bigger in the U.S. than in Buenos Aires.

Cars are bigger. My mother’s car is huge, and everyone keeps so much space around them, compared to the crowded streets in BsAs where the tiny cars squeeze as many as possible into a street, ignoring painted lanes.

Clothes are bigger. I went into Target and tried on a dress that was too big, and ended up with a small. I’m not small. I’m 5′6″ and a little overweight right now. But the small fit me. In BsAs, the sizes run from 1-4, and I’m a 3. Go figure.

Food servings are bigger. There are some places down South where one can get a huge plate of milanesa napolitana, but those in the know generally share it. People eat out a lot, but I routinely see men eating a salad or soup for an evening meal. The few places I have eaten out at in the U.S. have given me enough food to feed three people. THREE.

People are bigger. In Argentina, people tend to be more petite. At least half of the women I see on the street are a full head shorter than me. This is part of the reason for the smaller clothes… but not all of it. There is definitely an obesity epidemic in the United States. After being away for a year, I definitely see it everywhere I go. There are overweight people in Buenos Aires, obviously, but not at the scale I see here.  Granted, Argentine culture tends to pressure women to be thin, perhaps going too far at times. But I am 15 pounds overweight, and fit in a size small? The U.S. is definitely on the opposite end of the spectrum.

This is scary. I’m definitely motivated to get outdoors and get some exercise, and eat more salads.

Julia Evans wrote this article for where she blogs about her life as an expat.  She also writes a personal blog Evans’ Gate about living as an American expat in Buenos Aires, where she lives with her husband.  Comments on both blogs welcome!

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