From the excitement of NFL Gameday, to the reality of USA dental care

Fresh from the fantastic time I had had last weekend in Los Angeles, the start of the week brought me down to Earth with a bump. I chipped one of my teeth on a sandwich, beginning a few days of franticly trying to decode the health insurance small print and seeing dentists. It turns out that besides cleaning and whitening, dental work is not covered within the health insurance policy. The dentist then made me feel worse when she told me categorically that I had a huge cavity which needed work straight away. She began bandying the terms ‘root canal’ and ‘crown’ with no consideration for the fact that each one would cost me $1500! Attention then turned to my wisdom teeth, which she proclaimed needed to be removed too. At a cost of $4000+, no thank you! I will not be having that done! I have been referred to an Endodontist in Solana Beach, and I am due to see him this afternoon. Hopefully he will be a bit more realistic about what I desperately need within my price range. I only want what has to be done within the next 6 months – all other things like a crown and wisdom teeth can wait until I’m back in the good old UK.

The moral of the story is don’t have anything go wrong with your teeth here, it will cost you! It’s not like I didn’t have any checkups at home – I’d been for three checkups in the last 6 months, so they must have missed it.

To bring back memories from the days in Chancellors Court at Pollock Halls, we had a campus fire drill on Thursday morning. Unlike the fire alarms in Edinburgh though, it was not a 3am, it was not freezing/raining/snowing (delete as appropriate) outside, and because it was such a hardship to come outside, we were given free donuts and pancakes for our trouble. The fact it was so well organised though, with huge flags erected, and florescent tape everywhere, makes me wonder what it would be like in a real fire. I overheard someone say “I’d have started a fire earlier if I thought I’d get a donut out of it!” I think perhaps they won’t have them in the actual event, but it was a good idea. I was disappointed, as I had initially thought it was going to be an earthquake drill. Now that would have been different!

I had my first midterm on Thursday for Aerodynamics. Despite me constant comments about the difficulty of the Aero homework’s, the test was actually rather easy. It wasn’t full of trick questions, and since I had revised well, I should hopefully have not disgraced myself on it. It is difficult to get as good grades as I did in Edinburgh here, because there is more competition – and my courses are apparently 4th year courses, meaning everyone is trying hard to push their GPA up as high as possible.

When I was speaking to the Heat Transfer TA after the discussion session on Friday, it turns out he came to Edinburgh over the summer and met Guilliermo Rein. He also pointed out the stuff on the Heat Transfer course is graduate level stuff at Edinburgh, so it is not meant to be easy here!

On Sunday, I continued my immersion into the American sporting scene by going to see the NFL game between the New England Patriots and the San Diego Chargers. The NFL is far more expensive than the NHL, but I think that is in part because they only play 16 games a season compared to the 82 of the NHL. I kitted myself out in all my Charger gear, ready to support the team. Sadly though, at the stadium there were more fans that’d flown in from New England than fans from 4 miles away! I was the only Charger fan in my row, and the two rows in front were all Patriot fans too. At least the atmosphere is a family friendly one – the people in front had a 2 year old daughter in the Patriot gear – so it wasn’t like going to see a Milwall vs. West Ham game as a West Ham fan sitting in the Milwall stand. You’d not get out alive from that one!

They know how to do things properly, the whole match day experience was fantastic from start to finish, with fireworks, aerial flybys, guests on field, cheerleaders and games in addition to the football. San Diego started off badly, making a catalogue of ridiculous, comedic errors in the first 3 quarters that left them down 23-3. It was stuff that you wouldn’t expect from a High School team, let alone a Pro-NFL team! In the 4th things brightened though. The top offense and defences finally played like everyone expected and after an early field goal, the first touchdown came. Following a perfectly executed onside kick off, the second touchdown came. Now it was 23-20. The stadium had come alive, and the Patriot fans were silenced. I was getting really into it. When they stopped the Patriots at 4th and 1, there was 58 seconds left to complete the extraordinary recovery. With 28 seconds left, they were halted within field goal range. Kris Brown stepped up to take the 50-yd kick. It was good, it was good! The crowd started cheering, we were going to overtime! And then in a cruel twist of fate, the ball clanked of the right upright and back onto the field. It was no good. The final score was 23-20 to New England. No matter, it was a fantastic game, and I had a terrific time! All the problems earlier in the week were forgotten, I loved America once more!

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