Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Travel tip #1: don't get sick.

This week Paris has decided to rebel against me and make it clear that I am not welcome.  Apart from getting yelled at at the bank for not knowing how to deposit money in the ATM, getting yelled at at the internet store because apparently the guy couldn't understand what I wanted from him ("Combien je doit vous payer a la fin de ce mois?" did not seem that complicated to me) and wasting beaucoup de time with the family sitting around doing nothing, I recently developed a dreaded UTI and was forced to seek refuge at a local pharmacy.

Pharmacies here are easily recognizable by the neon green crosses they are required to display.  However, pharmacies in France are not like pharmacies in America, where you can (semi-) privately browse for your drug of choice, pay for it without any explanation, and grab some chips while you're at the register.  In France, everything of value is behind the counter.  You have to wait in line, and when you get to the counter you must tell the pharmacien/pharmacienne what's wrong with you and what symptoms you have (while the other people in line behind you listen in) and then they make their recommendation.  I'm assuming/hoping these people are medically trained to some degree.  Fortunately my pharamien spoke English and understood my problem easily, and happily gave me cranberry pills to drop my last 20 euros on (well worth it).  But all I could think of, as I stood in line waiting for my turn (and letting the weird guy behind me go first so he wouldn't hear what would I was sure would be a feeble and embarrassing attempt at describing my situation in a foreign language), was what if some poor traveler was in dire need of some pepto?  I could only imagine standing there and publicly explaining the problem in broken French and quite possibly a game of charades, all while fighting off the next impending wave of nausea/heartburn/indigestion/upset stomach/diarrhea.  They don't make this process easy for us foreigners.

On the bright side, though, I had my appointment with OFII Monday morning.  I am now officially a resident of France, and I have the sticker in my passport to prove it.


  1. Ok first of all, I really kind of wish that the Pharmacist didnt speak French so that I could clearly and hilariously picture you doing a reenactment of the scene from Bridget Jones II where she tries to explain in German and charades that she needs a pregnancy test. Classic. I also had to do this in Ecuador to get some bug bite stuff. I just started itching myself all over saying "pica pica!" hah. She got the point.

    Second of all, in my recent interactions with Tyler he's questioned me about pharmacy in Ecuador bc he is a pharmacy nerd and would do that. Apparently most other countries besides this smart one give a lot of power to the pharmacist bc he/she is specially trained to know symptoms and their corresponding drugs whereas a doctor has to know a whole hell of a lot more. So I think you're urinary tract is in better hands in France. :) lol.

    More pictures!