“Learn from the locals”, it is definitely the best advice anyone can give to a foreigner. Being in Norway, for me has been a learning experience, as everyday I get an opportunity to learn something new. As I landed here, it was made clear to me, “ All citizens and residents in Norway have their health care insured since health care is financed through tax returns. However, dental care is not free of charge and it is therefore, provided on a private system.”
Point taken. I later learnt that dental care in Norway is probably the most expensive as compared to many European countries. Many citizens too have criticised it for a number of reasons. “ I had an appointment with my dentist five years ago and I will never go back. These dentists in Norway, some can never be trusted at all. I spent so much money and had many more problems thereafter. I have been going to Poland for my dental check-ups and I love it there.” Said a friend some months back.
Because of such comments, many more Norwegians are reported to be travelling abroad for medical care planning it as part of their holiday. Abroad, they claim that dental care is of high standards, valuable and offered by very experienced doctors at affordable and reasonable prices.
That took me three years back when I had cavities on two of my teeth and because I am such a pain freak, I decided to undergo root canal so that I can forget the pain forever. I paid handsomely for the procedure, of course I have never had the pain anymore but one of my filling actually fell off a year later which was meant to be a permanent filling.
One of my friends has been complaining of toothache for a very long time. “So what do you plan to do with the pain, continue complaining for how long?” I did ask him in a sympathetic way. “I will have to suffer the pain as long as it can stay simply because I cannot afford it. I am working out a plan with the social welfare and if it goes well, then I will be grateful.”
Being in Norway as a political asylum seeker, I could definitely feel his pain. He later told me that his request was approved and that he will have his charges catered for. “I did filling for my four teeth at a total cost of 18,000 NOKS (appx Ksh.270,000 ). No more pain, I am happy that it will be paid for, I just couldn’t afford that amount,” he said. That of course left me speechless.
Then just three weeks back, my Norwegian girlfriend tells me of how she plans to go to Poland for her dental care. “I have serious problems with my teeth and if I am to do it here, it will cost me so much money. I have talked to the dentist in Poland, I am sure I will only pay a quarter of what I will pay in Norway. I will be travelling there soon,” said Lisa.
Concerned about the cost of Norwegians travelling abroad for dental care and even the check-up I ask her. “Do you think this is logic enough, think of the flight ticket, accommodation and if you need a follow-up will you still go to Poland?
“To travel to Poland, is so cheap, there are flights at a throw away price, using the regional airports, then you can always get cheap accommodation depending on where you want to stay. I am going to Krakow and I plan to get accommodation just within the clinic. If I put all my calculations down, I will still pay only a third of what I will have paid for my procedures in Norway,” said Lisa.
Trip to Krakow, Poland
Convinced about this, coupled with the need to also have my two of my teeth checked up and the desire to tour Poland, I decided to join Lisa to the dentist in Poland. We plan everything online, our flight tickets, dentist booking and apartment booking. All set, we drove off from Kristiansand on Monday morning and through a regional airport Sandefjord Torp, we set off to Poland. In less than four hours we landed at Poland. It felt all good, a different feel altogether is what I experienced on stepping at the Poland airport. It looked bright, summer feeling was all over with temperatures at 25 degrees plus.
I had read so much on Krakow and was out to see it for myself. Krakow which is the second largest city in Poland after Warsaw the Capital city, it is one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe. Enrolled on the list of UNESCO- Cultural World Heritage, it is over 1000 years old.
There is definitely plenty to do and see in Krakow, including concerts, festivals and other cultural events. The summer feel makes it good for beach strolls and it was definitely easy to spot lovebirds all over. It is famous for it´s rich architecture (Old city, Jewish area, Wawel castle) among many more sights and you would definitely notice many foreigners moving around excited about everything in Krakow.
Talk of language being a barrier. Norway is way above that, in Poland, before the start of any conversation, we had to keep asking, “Hey, do you speak English?” The people are definitely very friendly, but the language was definitely a great challenge. At one of the banks, we needed to inquire something about the currency exchange, but here the staff could not say anything in English at all, and so we had to leave without the info.
Next article on my blog, will tell you about our experience at the dentist. For the first time in my life, I found myself sleeping over and over at the dentist, doctor Marek Wozniacki definitely had a hard time dealing with me, all he kept saying was “Kindly open your mouth wide”. Now I know why Norwegians will go to Poland for dental care, it is definitely a different experience altogether!
Enjoy your weekend ahead.