It’s been a little over 6 months since I moved across the pond. I had a blast being unemployed for most of that time, as you can probably tell from all my previous travel posts 🙂 But now I’m settling back into being a real adult.
Did I do anything other than travel during my time off?
I took an intensive French class. I’m still terrible at French. As a native English speaker, there is not enough incentive to learn French, German, or Luxembourgish because most people in the city speak English as a second (or third or fourth or fifth!) language. Even if I attempt to speak French, I either leave the conversation not quite understanding everything that was said, or I end up slipping back into English. Thankfully, everyone is usually quite friendly, and they accommodate my lacking language skills. Here, English is the lingua franca where 47% of residents in the country and 70% of residents in the capital city are foreign nationals coming from 170 different countries.
I learned how to drive stick. In Europe, most people drive stick. If you want to rent a car, it’s at least twice as expensive to rent an automatic car than a manual car. And that’s if they even have an automatic available. I know like 4 people total in the US who own a manual car. Poor N had been responsible for driving both of us everywhere we went, until I rented a car for a week and asked him to teach me. That wasn’t fun either. I might have cried after stalling in the middle of an intersection and getting honked at by a bus driver… Aaanyway, it took me a good few days to get the hang of it, but now I’m capable of driving stick on the left as well! I still stall here and there, but at least I don’t freak out anymore.
I dipped a toe into FreeCodeCamp. I only got through half of the Front End Development section, but it was a fun two months of hanging out in coffee shops, learning and solving problems. I hadn’t started looking for jobs yet at that time, but I knew that I wanted coding and/or analytics to be a part of my next role. FreeCodeCamp is a great place to start if you’re not sure what you’re interested in, but I knew I wanted to learn some sort of data analytics and FCC does not yet have a thorough curriculum in that department.
I got a job as a business analyst with Amazon. I got lucky. N forwarded me a job posting that sounded exactly like what I wanted to do in my next role, and I guess the interviews went alright 🙂 I’m so thankful to be a part of such an incredible company, and I’m looking forward to learning and growing here. 6 weeks in, and everyone I’ve met is SO SMART. I love it.
I had reconstructive ACL surgery. A year and a half ago, I partially tore my ACL while playing flag football. I didn’t know what had happened at the time. It was the last play of the game, and I remember feeling my knee pop sideways and give out, but I was still able to hobble around on it and even went to the grocery store after the game. The day after, I couldn’t put weight on it, so I strapped it in a hinge brace, went to work, and just shuffled around. I refused to see a doctor until it swelled up twice its normal size. The doctor took an X-ray, told me nothing was broken, but recommended that I get an MRI. When I found out that an MRI would be $400 after insurance, I said fuck it. I’ll just ice it and see how it goes.
Mind you, I am more than financially secure, but this is what I see as the mentality of the current US health system. I waited 4 months before getting an MRI. The swelling had gone down, but my knee was unstable, painfully giving out every few weeks whenever I pushed off of it or landed on it improperly. After giving me the diagnosis, the doctor recommended surgery or physical therapy. Surgery sounded terrible, so I opted for PT. Again, with insurance, PT cost me about $50 per session, with guidance to go a couple times a week for 6 weeks. The daily PT exercises would take me at least an hour to run through all the sets, and I was told that I would have to keep them up pretty much forever if I wanted to see and maintain real results. For me, this was unsustainable.
I looked into the cost of the surgery in the US, and it was estimated at $8,000 with insurance. This did not include the post op medications, rehab, and physical therapy. At this point, I was also on my way to moving abroad, and physically, I was doing okay. I was hiking, cycling, and doing yoga. However, I couldn’t really run, climbing was done carefully, and so many other sports were out of the question. I decided to postpone the surgery until after I moved to Luxembourg. I also didn’t want to be out of commission during the summer, so I scheduled the surgery for early fall. In talks with my doctor, he had told me that the surgery would have been €1,200 without insurance. With my CNS coverage (the national social security insurance), the surgery was basically free. To date, I’ve paid a total of €108 for the pre-op exam, two nights stay in the hospital, the post-op medications, bandages, and an ice pack. What I haven’t spent any money on yet is the surgery itself, the drugs I was on in the hospital, the 32 physical therapy sessions I’ve scheduled through the end of the year, and the home nurse that came to give me daily blood thinner injections.
I’m still in awe, and I’m still waiting for a giant surprise bill to show up in my mailbox. Other Americans that I’ve told this to are just as dumbfounded as I am, but whenever I gush about this to non-Americans, I just get a blank stare, like, of course it’s like this, what else would it be like? This whole situation has really brought home how broken and unfair the US healthcare system is. The thought of whether or not you should go to the doctor for an injury or illness because of how much it will cost you does not cross peoples’ minds here in Luxembourg. Yes, I pay higher taxes here, but the peace of mind of knowing that I will be taken care of when I cannot take care of myself is absolutely worth it.
Two weeks after my surgery, I have almost full extension of my knee and about 90 degrees of flexion. The bruises are fading now that I am off blood thinners, and I am walking around without crutches (maybe a little too much). I get the stitches out in two days, and I can’t wait until I can walk without a limp. Small milestones 🙂
Photos taken with the iPhone 6s