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How to Survive the “Freshman Plague”

I was a week into college when I first heard the rumors. By week two, I thought it was all a lie, I even thought it was avoidable. By week three, I started to see its effects. A month in, I couldn’t walk through the halls of my dorm without hearing someone cough or sneeze. By week five, I had it too–the dreaded “Freshman Plague.”

In case you don’t know, the Freshman Plague is a cold that almost every freshman student will experience courtesy of living in the cesspool that is dorm life. It comes in many forms but one thing for sure–this bad boy is practically unavoidable.

People will experience this plague in different ways. For some, it’s sniffles that last for weeks. For others, (myself included) it’s a month-long ordeal that will make you forget what life was like before you were sick.

Freshman year of college is hard enough– moving out, settling into a completely new environment with completely new people, and not to mention balancing a completely new schedule. Throw getting sick into the mix and it can throw you completely out of whack. But worry not, dear reader, for there is hope! Here are some tips I’ve gathered after surviving the plague so that you can too!

1. See a doctor.

This one goes out to my mom who told me to go to the doctor every day when we talked on the phone (and for the record, I did go…FOUR TIMES). I’m no pre-med student, but if your symptoms last for longer than a week while talking over the counter cold meds or if you have really intense symptoms, it’s probably a good idea to go to a doctor. Even if you have to sit in the waiting room festering in your own sickness for hours, it’s well worth it: Just a thought.

2.  You can NEVER have too many tissues.

Go to your local pharmacy and stock up! I’m not just talking about tissue boxes for your dorm. No, my friend, you need to also get those portable mini packs of tissues for when you find yourself coughing up a lung in the middle of class. You’ll thank me later.

3. Stock up on sick person supplies.

While you’re at that pharmacy, make sure you pick up cough drops and any over the counter meds you may need for when you’re so congested you’ve become a 24/7 mouth breather or for when the concept of sleeping through a night without coughing seems abnormal. Treat those pesky symptoms!

4. Bundle up! 

Especially if you go to a school in a colder climate (I’m looking at you, Boston), it is super important to make sure you are keeping yourself warm. Snuggle up with an extra blanket or two at night. When you’re out and about, make sure that you keep your neck and chest covered!

5. Take it easy.

One of the best things I did to feel better was to accept the fact that trying to function normally while being sick was just making my body feel both physically and mentally exhausted. Once I decided to listen to my body and rest, I found that it did wonders for my health and overall well being! Even if you accidentally sleep through a class (or three, whoops.), your professors will understand if you take the time to e-mail them and explain what’s going on. 

The Freshman Plague is not fun by any means. But, you’ll heal faster if you actually make an effort to listen to your body rather than just trying to tough it out. Using these tips can help you to get better so that you can go back to being the healthy queen we all know that you are! By taking the time to actually take care of yourself, even the Plague can be bearable!


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Nicole is a freshman at Boston University majoring in Journalism. She originally hails from Miami, Florida but has chosen to leave the endless summer behind for actual seasons! Along with her passion for writing, she loves reading, listening to music, and exploring the city of Boston.
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