I love Marseille, France.
I love Marseille, France.
Although I’ve done a lot of big trips throughout the past few years, especially when I was studying abroad in France and traveled to a dozen different countries, I’ve done a lot of the same thing in all of them. By that I mean, they were pretty much all big cities–Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Prague, Amsterdam, Rome, Lisbon, etc. and there is a kind of basic plan most people follow when they get to one of these big cities: Get a map, get a drink and then Choose Your Own Adventure–visit the famous museums, parks, monuments, mountains; drink the famous coffee, beer, liquor; taste the famous pastry, cheese, meat. I’ve gone on a lot of walking tours and I’ve seen a WHOLE LOT of cathedrals. My friends and I were study abroad students; we were broke so we ate street food and walked everywhere and booked RyanAir flights and stayed in hostels and saw Europe on a shoestring and loved every second of it. We were always squeezing trips into long weekends or short school breaks, so we never had enough time to *really* dig much deeper than the quintessential city offerings.
I bake in grams. I weigh in kilograms.
I count time in (what Americans call) Military Time.
I pick my outfit and plan my day in Celsius.
I walk, run, and cycle in kilometers.
I go shopping with Euros, or a Chip & Pin debit card.
I grocery shop in Dutch. The kids speak to me in Dutch. Sometimes I respond in Dutch, although I try to respond in English, because the goal is for them to learn it. I’ve half-learned a third language, and I didn’t even plan to.
But in the few years I’ve lived abroad, the one thing that has never been touched or altered by European measurement is my diabetes management. Until now.
2 weeks ago, I wrote about my experience getting insulin without health insurance in France in 2012. Little did I know while writing and sharing that story, that 2 weeks later, I would encounter a very similar situation in Amsterdam, where I’ve been living for the past 5 months.
Lately, I’ve been receiving a lot of emails from people with type 1 diabetes who want to study/work/live abroad. Their stories are different, their destinations are different, but at the core of each one is the same issue: How will I take care of my diabetes while I’m abroad? What advice do you have for me? Some just flat out say, I’m scared.
That being said, my replies are pretty much 1 part advice and 9 parts encouragement and reassurance. I say, You can do this. I know you can do this because I have done it–I am doing it currently–and I have type 1 diabetes, too. Here are a few things I’ve learned from experience and from listening to others, but as with most things (and definitely most type 1 diabetes things) plan to learn along the way. Plan to learn most things along the way.