At promptly 11 minutes past 11 am on the 11th of November, Karneval , the fifth season, kicks off. The entire city dresses up in costume while celebrating in the streets. For more information pertaining to Cologne’s unique tradition, check out this link : http://www.koelnerkarneval.de/en/cologne-carnival/
To prepare for Karneval, some of my classmates and I decided to dress up as a group. We came up with the cool idea to be skittles. Each girl had a color: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. We made skittle necklaces, painted a white letter “S” on each of our assigned color skirts, and some of use dyed our hair the respective color. Jocelyn and I invited the group over at 9am the day of Karneval. I must admit, it felt a bit odd buying bottles of champagne at eight in the morning. It was even more interesting to see all the people in costume so early walking around as well. So as tradition has it, we spent the day enjoying each other’s company and beverages of sorts.
After dinner, I wanted to run home quickly to grab a warmer coat. The rest of the girls in the group were at a bar on Zulpicherplatz. As i was walking in the direction of the bar, a large man drunkenly ran into me. He was so forceful, he knocked me down to the ground. I knew there was a problem because I could not get back up. I was so fortunate because three people on the street near me saw my fall. They helped me up and realized I could not walk so they called the emergency services for me. They waited until the ambulance arrived. I was very grateful and a little surprised how helpful the strangers were. It was Karneval at night, and it is evident people are feeling a little drunk. Even in their drunken state, they took the time to help me get to a hospital. I am very fortunate for the mystery strangers who I will probably never meet again.
So once I arrived at the hospital, I was so appreciative Christina was there waiting for me. The doctors ran X-rays and we discovered my foot was broken in 2 different places. It was evident I needed surgery as soon as possible. I instantly panicked. Being in a foreign country, with my parents away from me, I was experiencing intense emotions. I was scared, upset, angry, confused, and in pain all at the same time. I was fortunate to get ahold of my parent via my cell phone (international cellular plans have their perks!). The encouraged me, as they noted Germany is known for its operating procedures, and we decided it would be the best way to heal the fastest. Eight screws and one titanium plate later, I was on the road to recovery.
I woke up and it was such a relief to have Jocelyn and Christina by my side. Over the next few days in the hospital, members from the cohort came and visited me. I was spoiled with cookies, candies, pretzels, apple juice, pizza, and even chinese food. It was really amazing to have familiar faces around during such a miserable time. I had never had surgery without my parents, so it was nice to have a plethora of friends at my side.
Experiencing a hospital in a foreign country was a new experience for me. A few of the nurses spoke english, but most only knew german. Night’s were especially rough when I was in pain and they were unsure how to help. Little things like that. For example, I finally was able to take a shower, but I needed help out of the shower. I rang the assistance bell when I was done, and a nurse came to help me out. She did not speak english though, and she thought she accidentally interrupted my shower. She instantly left, and I was stuck in the shower for another thirty minutes. Besides that one instance, and the not so tasty hospital food, it was quite manageable. I definitely would recommend an international health insurance plan before going abroad; that was the smartest investment I have made. Of course we never expect these accidents to happen, but it is much better to cautious!
Tomorrow, I have an appointment with my orthopedic to get my stitches out and begin physical therapy. I am feeling optimistic.
Until next time,