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The Eight Stages of Being Sick

Welcome to college, a place where you make a lot of friends and get coughed on by multiple people as you walk down your dorm hallway. I knew I’d get sick during my freshman year, but I didn’t think it’d be as early as two weeks in. Here’s a glimpse into what it’s like to be sick in college.


Stage 1: Paranoia

The girl sitting next to you in Italian is coughing. Your friend is going through a Kleenex box as you eat dinner together. You can see the germs everywhere you go. You excessively start using hand sanitizer and even start taking those vitamins your parents sent with you to college that you should have already been routinely taking. You simply don’t want to get sick, but it’s hard to avoid people because… college.


Stage 2: Acceptance

You’re walking back from class, and suddenly, you start to feel something in your throat. You may deny that you’re sick for a few hours, but as the day progresses and you start to feel worse, you admit it to yourself. You know you’re done for; you’re sick. Of course, a bit of discomfort in your throat is nothing compared to what’s about to come during the next few days. Life’s going to be rough for a few days.


Stage 3: Misery

The next morning, you wake up completely congested. Today is the worst day of the cold… the ultimate low. So many different body parts hurt, you’re sniffling like crazy, and you walk the campus with a tissue in your hand at all times. You feel dead on the inside and can only think about how much you want to go back to your room and lay in bed.


Stage 4: Call Mom!

For some, being away from home for the first time means they have yet to experience being sick on their own. These people can sometimes desperately need their mom to tell them what medication to take. You might also be missing her chicken noodle soup.


Stage 5: Class Staredown

You’re having an intense sniffle attack, and you keep blowing your nose to the point where people start to stare at you in class.


Stage 6: Bonding

Since so many people around you are sick, you begin to make new friends and bound over your sickness together. You give each other emotional support, tell relatable stories, and sniffle together.


Stage 7: Recovery

You start to feel better, and realize that you will eventually go back to normal.


Stage 8: Apologetic

You’re almost back to normal, but you run into people you had contact with during your sick week. Guess what? You got them sick.

Rachel Beinus

Columbia Barnard '21

Rachel is a current junior at Barnard College studying history, as well as the Campus Correspondent for Her Campus Columbia Barnard. Not only does she enjoy writing, but she also loves Myers-Briggs personality types, fashion, and chocolate. 
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