In some ways, you can ease into a culture at a slow pace. You venture to the grocery store once in awhile, you say hello to your neighbor every day or you simply read a book. When you break a tooth in a foreign country, you immediately deal with the health care of a foreign culture. It also teaches a bit about foreign business.
I broke my tooth the other week. One of my students innocently offered me a piece of candy (you know the kind that is hard but chewy?) and I ate it. Following that, I discovered a broken tooth – thankfully without any pain. I contacted an American friend that speaks Turkish and she found me a dentist nearby and even made the call – we then discovered the dentist spoke English very well. I admit it – I was nervous to experience a Turkish dentist, especially for anything more than a routine cleaning. How different were things going to be? What to expect?
To tell you the truth, whatever I expected was wrong. I walked in and was greeted in Turkish by the receptionist (my friend was with me at this point) but a tall man wearing jeans and what appeared to be cowboy boots was waiting nearby. When he spoke near-perfect English, I realized this was my dentist. Everything about him fit the idea of a cowboy; all that was missing was a hat and a piece of timothy.
The appointment itself went well. I didn’t have to receive a shot of novacaine and the dentist went to town. My tooth is now fixed and there is nothing too foreign about it. It was a private clinic, so I paid out-of-pocket and then will be reimbursed through my American health insurance. Even out-of-pocket, the whole experience ended up being cheaper than I would pay in America.