Sick in College and Away From Home

So you have tried your absolute hardest to avoid the virus-ridden people on your floor, and you’ve been popping vitamin C every day like it’s your job, but somehow you have still managed to catch the bug that’s been passed around your classmates all quarter. 

Now that you are sick in college and miserable, it dawns on you that your mother is not present to ease your suffering. But do not panic just yet, simply because you are in a twin XL dorm room bed rather than snuggled up in your comfy bed at home. While you may understandably feel like becoming an introverted hermit as you ride out your disease, there are more than a few advantages to having so many people around all the time to spin to your benefit while you’re sick in college.

Here are a few college sickness survival tips to take into account for the next time you’re sick in college or catch an unfortunate condition at school!

1). Share the Goods

One of the perks to being sick in college is that there is likely going to be others who either have already gone through the same symptoms you are experiencing or are facing the illness alongside you. Either way, people will be very well stocked up on cold and flu relieving ailments such as medicine and cough drops. If they generously offer to share, you will essentially have an immediate pharmacy available at your disposal.

When I lived in the dorms, winter quarter was a non-stop, rolling phase of groups of people continuously taking turns getting sick in college. So many people were sharing and interchanging remedies so we finally resorted to gathering up a pile of cough syrup, throat lozenges, and fever reducing pills in our floor communal lounge. Anyone was welcome to contribute or take what they needed. It is kind of nice to have a whole community sick together so you don’t have to suffer or ride through the condition alone.

2). Extra Caretakers

In the absence of the family members who usually convert to your personal servants and wait staff in the event that you fall ill at home, school is a decent enough place to recruit replacements to help you make it through another round of being sick.

In a place as crowded as the dorms, there is always going to be someone around to watch over you and make sure you are doing okay. There will be people feeling your forehead, telling you to go to bed, filling up your water bottles and bringing you orange juice, basically everything short of hand-feeding you spoonfuls of liquid medicine. Who knows, your friends and floor mates might even be more attentive than your family at home!

And while you won’t be recovering on your mom’s chicken noodle soup, your roommates and friends might bring you food from the dining commons or the grocery store just to make sure you are still eating if you are too ill to get out of bed and leave your building. You may even get away with making requests for you friends to go on emergency soup runs for you.

3). Buy Medicine and Other Necessities

This goes along with the soup runs I just mentioned. When you are sick in college, people will usually feel so much pity for you or feel your pain that they will make a lot of offers in an attempt to help you out and make your life easier. Run out of cough drops? They will either offer to go buy more from the drugstore or scavenge around the building to locate more for you. Need more medicine? They will probably be asking what brands you like and what form you want to take your remedy in.

4). Class Note Takers

When I get sick in college or just come down with a little cold, I generally try my hardest to attend my classes and not let it bother me. But when I get sick, I do not usually just contract a little cough and sniffle. By day two or three I am basically bed-ridden and too delirious to pull myself up to get to lecture. Most lectures, at least at my school, are not mandatory (but that does not mean you shouldn’t go), so skipping when you are sick in college will not make you lose attendance or participation points or anything. This is when your friends or floor mates who happen to be in your classes come in handy, because no one is going to refuse to let a sick person copy their notes later on.

If  you unluckily do not happen to know anyone in your classes, just find someone sitting near you in lecture who looks nice, and explain to them that you have been sick the past few classes and kindly ask if you can take a picture of their notes. Taking a picture on your phone of someone else’s notes, as opposed to copying down lecture notes, only takes a few seconds and is a hard request for anyone to refuse. You can easily transfer the notes from your pictures to your notebook later on your own time.

As for discussion and lab sections, you might be able to email your TA letting them know your condition and asking for an excused absence. But if not, you will just have to suck it up for a few hours or so and grind through, hoping for the best.

5). Have an Escort to the Hospital

If you are feeling abnormally bad or want to make sure you haven’t contracted anything beyond a common cold or flu, it is a good idea to take a trip to the doctor’s office. When I am super sick at home, I am usually too fatigued to drive myself to the doctor’s and will have one of my parents drop me off. The same thing goes for when you are sick in college. Ask a friend who has a car on campus to drive you, instead of trying to take a bus, bike, or walk.

Most schools will have an on-campus health center that students can go to. At my school, every student is assigned a physician at the health and wellness center, and when you schedule an appointment, it will automatically be with your one appointed doctor, so your progress will be consistent.

Your college will most likely also offer a student health insurance plan that will allow you to go to the health center. If you are already covered under your parents’ health insurance, then you have the opportunity to waive the school’s insurance. Depending on your parents’ insurance, you can choose to either go to your school’s health center when you are sick in college, or your town may have a Kaiser or another hospital that will take your insurance.

So all in all, being sick in college is never fun, but you can make the best of your situation by remembering these tips and not being afraid to ask for help! 

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Ashley Yang

Ashley Yang

Ashley Yang will be entering her junior year at the University of California, Davis in the fall, where she is pursuing a double major in Economics and Communication. Outside of class, she loves to see her friends and family, jam out to T-Swift, make smoothies, and curl up and unwind with a relaxing book. Other interests of hers include ballet and gymnastics, skiing, travel, volunteer work, chick-flick movies, animals, and Christmas.
Ashley Yang

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