As an expat, going to the doctor or to the kuaför (Turkish hair salon) are two experiences that can make you cry.
Well, at least if you are a woman.
I’ve dealt with both while living in Istanbul.
Actually, I’ve left several different American hair stylists in tears as well after a haircut or coloring gone wrong. I’ve had my hair colored all different shades of blonde and brown over the years, including a fluffy, blonde perm in the early 1990s (picture on right). What was I thinking?
Finding a good hair stylist is important no matter where you live. In Istanbul, at least I was referred to a Turkish guy that speaks a little English, but is a little too proud of his çok altın (very gold) highlights every time.
“Evet, Tekken Bey, çok güzel, çok altın,” I always tell him.
At least, I like the cut, and the price is fair, so I can’t complain too much. It sure beats trying to figure out what box of hair dye I would use instead. I’ve heard of other expat friends paying 300 tl or more for a haircut and color in Etiler and Istinye Park too. No, thanks!
Finding a doctor, especially a good OB/GYN, also is problematic. I’ve relied on friends’ recommendations and have had mixed results.
First, I ended up at the American Hospital with a female doctor, whom delivered six of my friends’ babies, but I thought she had an unfriendly bedside manner. Her English was near perfect, but she was always icy toward me and my husband. Not exactly the kind of personality you want to deal with when you’re trying to get pregnant.
Then, earlier this year, I went to another OB/GYN – this time a Turkish male – at the German Hospital. He was kind, friendly, answered all my questions and didn’t treat me like an idiot.
However, I had to go to another clinic for some specialty tests in an unfamiliar part of the city. It was raining. I was lost and in near tears until a friendly, older Turkish gentleman helped me find where I needed to go.
No one spoke English at this clinic. I was okay for awhile, but my Turkish comprehension doesn’t cover medical terms.
I lay down on the cold, flat table so the tests could begin. I was uncomfortably half way undressed. I was exposed and vulnerable. I wished I had a friend with me to hold my hand. I wished my husband was there.
The technician explained some things in Turkish that I didn’t really understand. “Kesmek?” Doesn’t that mean “to cut” in Turkish? Dear, god!
That’s when the tears started. The tears kept coming. I couldn’t help it.
I didn’t understand, and I was alone. The exam seemed to last forever, but in reality took only 10 minutes or so.
Some days that’s what my expat life is like here. I don’t understand, and I feel completely like a foreigner.
As an expat, have you ever had a similar experience going to the doctor or hair stylist while you lived abroad?