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Monday, June 24, 2013

1 MONTH!

I am leaving for Germany in exactly one month! I finally got my suitcase out and started boxing up clothes that I won't be bringing. I will post more updates on how I am fitting my life in a 50 pound suitcase in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tips for Traveling with Diabetes

My Animas Ping insulin pump and site
6 weeks until I leave for Germany! This means that I am very busy planning. Most girls would probably be taking this time to figure out how to pack enough clothes for all four seasons in one 50 pound suitcase, but as a type 1 diabetic, I am busy sorting all of my medication. Traveling with diabetes, especially internationally, can be scary. As a type 1 diabetic that has spent a lot of time out of the country, I should know. If you are about to study abroad with diabetes, go on a vacation out of the country, or (if you're crazy like me) move to foreign country, here are my tips for traveling with diabetes.

  • Take extra medication

I get all of my medicine mail ordered. That means that I get 3 months of medicine at a time. Luckily, I use a little bit less than my prescribed amount of insulin and test strips per month, so by the end of 3 months, I always have some left over. So before I take a big trip, I try to make sure that I will get another delivery of 3 months worth of medicine prior to leaving. This way, I have over 3 months of medication to take with me on the trip. The last time I went to Germany, I was there for 2 months. I brought about 5 months worth of stuff.

  • Have your medicine in your carry-on

Bring all of your medicine in your carry on luggage. Last time I flew internationally, I had a giant backpack with 5 vials of insulin, 4 bags of syringes, 5 boxes of insulin pump insets, bags of extra lancets -- you get the idea. Never be worried about bringing insulin or syringes on board. These are allowed, and I have never been questioned about these things.


  • Keep your pump on through security
  •  When going through security, always keep your pump on. If you are going to be put through a full body scanner, let them know that you are wearing an insulin pump, and opt for a pat down if possible. I always get groped rather than scanned. It may sound uncomfortable, but it's really okay. You'll typically go in a cubicle with a lovely female officer, and she'll feel her way around over your clothes. No biggie. They may ask to see your site. Luckily my site is typically on my stomach, so I can show it to them easily. I have talked a little bit more about going through security with an insulin pump and flying with diabetes in a past blog post. So go check that out if you are worried about this process.

    • Get extra pump supplies

    For those of you with an insulin pump, you can get an advance on your pump supplies. Every time I have traveled, I always call Animas and ask for a few months of extra supplies. They will ask for the reason, noting it in their system, but it's never been an issue for me. You may think that you don't need an extra month or two of pump supplies, but if you are out swimming, sweating, moving, and shaking, you know how those suckers can just fall off. Also, when I am under stress, I tend to have a lot of misfires, ruining multiple insets.

    • Check your health insurance benefits

    I did this recently for the first time. Stupid me has traveled internationally in the past with no idea about whether I was covered in foreign countries or what I would do if I ran out of medicine, got sick, or worse. Smart me has called my insurance company this time. Luckily I do have coverage abroad, and there is even a nifty online database for me to find doctors that are guaranteed to be covered by my insurance. Even if you are just traveling for a week abroad, be sure to check your health coverage. 

    Are you a traveler with diabetes? Feel free to ask questions or tell me about your experiences in the comments!

    Friday, June 7, 2013

    How to Learn German: Duolingo

    I studied German for 3 years in high school, 2 semesters in college, and one semester in Germany. On a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 meaning I don't know a word and 10 meaning I am completely fluent, I would consider myself at about a 6. I definitely can get by, but don't expect me to use the correct articles for my nouns or be able to hold an intelligent conversation about political theory.


    So to brush up on some things and hopefully learn even more, I have been using the web-based language learning program Duolingo. Although I am still just taking all the bypass tests until I get to a level where I feel challenged, I am really impress with it so far. Before I went to Germany for the first time, and I was scared that I wouldn't be able to talk to anybody, so I used Rosetta Stone to learn German for a few months. I began in the highest difficulty and never felt challenged. I was bored with the repetition and ultimately stopped doing it pretty quickly. I suppose the software may be better suited for those with no prior experience with the language.

    Duolingo, on the other hand, has so many opportunities for those who are in the more advanced levels of learning the language to be challenged. You can also get into the "immersion" section and read and translate documents. This also definitely beats Rosetta Stone because of the great community. If you ever come across a question where you don't understand why your answer isn't correct, simply click "discuss" to see what other people have said about it, and you can ask your own questions.

    Do you use Duolingo? If so, feel free to add me. My username is CourtneytheAmi, and hopefully some of you can motivate me to log in and practice more often!

    Tuesday, June 4, 2013

    Eating Horse Meat in Germany

    Since the debacle in the UK and Europe over horse meat being labeled as beef, many discussions have been raised with my American friends about the morality of eating horse meat.

    Bag from the horse butcher Otto Thiele in Lüneburg
    The bag from the horse butcher
    where we got our steaks

    When I was studying in Germany in 2011, I lived near a horse butcher (Rossschlachterei Otto Thiele in Lüneburg). Me and a few of my American friends were curious, so we decided to go and get some meat for dinner. We bought pre-seasoned steaks. Look at these lovely pictures of us cooking them (please ignore the disgustingly dirty stove -- it was my student apartment):

     Preparing horse meat steaksCooking horse meat in Germany

     So I know many of you may be thinking, "Oh no, you ate a horse?! Horses aren't mean to be eaten!"  Well, I have one thing to say: it was delicious. I don't understand why horse meat in the U.S. is considered so taboo. How it is okay to eat a cow, but not a horse? I understand horses have a history of being mankind's pets, but why is it okay to slaughter an innocent cow?

    Anyways, it's not as if I am hankering for some horse meat in America now, but I certainly would be happy to eat horse again in the future. While horse butchers are not popular in Germany, it does not carry the strong negative stigma that it has in the U.S. So if you are ever presented with the opportunity to try horse meat in the U.S. or abroad, try it out. You may find it delicious too.
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