There is an elderly woman who sits at the entrance to the grocery store, across the street from my apartment. She nods at you and sometimes says “Bonjouir” as you leave (never on your way in though). People give her food and sometimes money, as they do with the two weather worn guys who sit outside the store and ask for coins, as they gamble with each other. However, unlike the two guys, the woman is always immaculately put together and obviously has someplace to shower and make up, so she can’t be homeless. Her short grey hair neatly swept back. Her nails always have a French manicure and she wears a light mauve lipstick. She always wears a black “old ladies” pantsuit, with matching jacket.
The other day she was selling calendars, with kittens on them. The security gauds (there are security guards at the supermarket across the street) were not happy about this. I saw her arguing with them and for a few weeks I didn’t see her at her post. I was starting to worry about her, but last night I saw her again. Not at her post though. She was on her way out (home?). She grabbed a scarf that was hidden behind one of the displays and then headed out into the forty something (°F, 4-5°C) weather.
I have been sick for most of October. Like, really, really, “No I’m not going to class and maybe I’ll get to the store across the street tomorrow” sick (ok that only lasted for a week, not the whole month, but I’ve been coughing for a month now). After this flu/ cold thing lasted more than a week I went to a French doctor, with a French friend (who could translate). I was nervous about this, because, while I technically have health insurance, with the MGEL, I don’t have my card yet*. In America, this is a scary situation! I worried: How much would I have to pay upfront? If I didn’t have it, would there be some sort of fine in the long term? Would I be reimbursed?
As it turned out the answers to these questions were not very much, wait what (?), and of coarse! God I love social democracies! By not very much I mean I had to pay 20 euros for the visit and 23, each, for 2 antibiotics and after I get my card my insurance will reimburse me for all of it (i.e. total net cost after insurance= free!)
Needless to say, I have a lot to catch up on. In life and in the blog. However, I will try to keep in touch. Look out for posts on: Scientific Research in France, Food! More on my Program, and the Basel Opera.
*I do not have an insurance card, because I haven’t picked a primary doctor yet. When I went to the MGEL, with proof that I had bought health insurance at registration (you buy it when you register for classes, note health insurance is not included in the Pack MGEL), they gave me a form and told me I needed to have a doctor fill it out. Being from America, I immediately assumed that this would be to check for pre-existing conditions, but they couldn’t deny me the insurance, so I was confused. I decided to wait until I had time to figure out what they wanted (I’m in grad school, so this would be NEVER). Also I was scarred of seeing the doctor without the insurance card (see reasons above). Anyway, when I got sick I took the form with me (hoping I could, kill two tasks with one visit) and they explained that on the form you needed to designate a “referring” or primary doctor. I’ve decided to wait and find an English speaking doctor (from the list provided by the US embassy for Strasbourg and France, in general), rather than use the doctor I saw for my illness. While her English was certainly better than my French, we couldn’t really communicate and I was glad I had brought a translator.