Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Le Test Tuberculinique -- The Quest for Luxembourgish Residency, Pt. 2

Dënschdeg, 15 September.

Have you ever had a tuberculosis test? I have. In fact, I've had two. (Thank you, Fairfax County Public Schools.) They're pretty simple, as far as tests for Terrible Horrible Awful diseases go: you get pricked in the arm and come back a few days later to triumphantly display your lack of disease. Voila. Well -- as my smarting forearm and SERIOUS case of the giggles can attest -- it's not exactly the same in Luxembourg.

In Luxembourg, foreigners seeking a titre de séjour, or residence permit, must submit to both a medical exam and a tuberculosis test. In order to get tested for tuberculosis, I had to go to the local Centre Médico-Social, correctly navigate the tongue twister of a phrase "un test tuberculinique," and present both my autorisation de séjour temporaire and 20 euros. There was, just like last time, a perhaps unnecessary amount of photocopying and stamping. But before being taken back for the familiar arm-pricking, I was led into a small room for my chest X-ray.

That's right. A CHEST X-RAY.

According to WebMD (the fount of all medical knowledge), chest X-rays are usually administered if the patient has either 1) a positive skin test, 2) physical symptoms of active tuberculosis, or 3) an unclear skin test. I asked the technician in charge and apparently Luxembourg does not subscribe to this philosophy ... so in for the X-ray I went!

The whole process was relatively painless, if a bit awkward. (If you want to spare any uncomfortable intimacy with your X-ray technician, I'd recommend bringing along a tank top or light t-shirt. Whoops.) And after the unexpected foray into the exciting world of radiology, the tuberculosis skin test itself was remarkably unremarkable. Given my particular distaste for needles, I was pretty proud of how well I handled the shot -- no tears!! -- and of how easily I was able to chat with the doctor about my experiences so far in Luxembourg. As she looked at my forms and realized I was from the United States, she echoed a sentiment I've already heard expressed a few too many times over the past couple days: "Vous parlez français? Mais vous êtes américaine!"

For most of the people in this multilingual society, the stereotypical American speaks English -- and only English. Everyone who has mentioned this to me -- from professors to students to the staff at the CMS -- has been incredible nice about it: because they don't expect it, they're pleasantly surprised when I'm able to respond in French or muddle along in German and so far, they have all been more than happy to repeat or explain. However, it is a little bit disappointing to realize how low their expectations are. Given this less-than-stellar image of the United States, I'm beginning to understand the true importance of programs like Fulbright whose goals are to foster positive international and intercultural communication.

In conclusion: once I go back to verify my test results on Friday, step two in the quest for Luxembourgish residency will be complete! Up next? A visit to a Luxembourgish doctor in Bertrange, a trip to the post office for a money transfer that will surely be an adventure in itself, and -- the pinnacle of the whole quest -- a visit to the Ministre des Affaires Etrangères et Européennes himself. Stay tuned for more updates! ;)

1 comment:

  1. What a hoot you are! Also, what a wonderful example of a good American you are as well! So proud!
    Love ya!