To make this entry a little easier to understand, I will italicize everything that was said in German, and keep the original English as normal text.
Wednesday, I was woken up by a serious toothache. After spending a couple days taking ibuprofen like it was candy, I decided it would be best for me to go to the dentist to see if it was something serious. I showed up to the clinic and filled out all the required paperwork, which included signing quite a few legal waivers, all in German. When I handed in the paperwork, I asked, "Is it possible for me to see a dentist who speaks English?" The receptionist looked at me strangely, but replied, "Don't worry, all of our dentists speak English." Yes, I was going to try to cop out and speak in English, but to be fair, I know close to zero medical or dentistry terms. In addition, the tooth in question is one that I've had quite a bit of work on in the past, and wasn't sure I would be able to describe the previous work. Ultimately, I figured two common languages would be better than one.
Finally, my name is called and I head into the examination room, where I met the dentist. He asked me what was wrong, and all I could say was, "My tooth hurts. Um...do you speak English?" "No, and why should I? Your German is perfectly good! So, which tooth is it?" This was not the time I was looking for somebody to complement my German! He took a look at it, sent me to get an X-Ray taken, and took one look at the picture before saying, "Just as I thought. You need a Wurzelbehandlung. Do you know what that is?" I had never heard of the word, although knowing my pain and what the likely course of treatment was, I had a pretty good idea. "Root canal."
He barely had the English out of his mouth before he stuck the needle with the local anesthetic, which seemed to only add pain to the already painful area, but once he started drilling, there was no pain, which is good. I'm also glad he didn't try to hold a discussion with me during this time. I don't know if this is the German way of doing things, or if he figured I didn't want to try to speak in German, but I appreciated it. The procedure ended pretty soon after it started, and before I knew it, he was saying, "Bye-bye! See you next week!" Yup, I made an appointment with his assistant and get to go see him again next week.
Why would I write up this entire experience? I wouldn't normally consider a dental visit anything news-worthy or something to share with a bunch of strangers. But this incident in some ways reminded me of the position I'm in. Being an immersion student means I'm actually living in the country. It's not an extended vacation, and it's not a break from reality. Life continues on while I'm abroad, and when something important comes up, I have to deal with it. My necessities in life do not change just because I am in another country. I could need a root canal at any point back home, and I could have needed one at any point this year. Essentially, the only difference I have found from the US and Germany, in this case, is the language. And at this point, I can definitely handle that.