Allergic to College: My Experience Getting Sick at UF

I arrived at UF more excited than I’d ever been. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I walked around the dorm, admiring the shared bathrooms and common areas that made it feel like “college.” Little did I know that I would soon be caught up in a perpetual health nightmare because of that communal living.

Right off the bat, I ended up in Shands Emergency Room at midnight with a high fever, chills and fatigue. I was terrified; I’d never been to an emergency room before, let alone without my parents there beside me. I waited for hours before I was taken to be seen, and I promptly received numerous tests. I sat in my seat fidgeting and shaking, questioning all the maladies that could have befallen me. The results revealed I had a kidney infection, and I was promptly fed antibiotics through an IV before I could be sent off into the night with pills to take for the course of two weeks.

Whether that ordeal can be attributed to dorm living I can’t be sure, but from that point on, I had cold after cold, with barely a day in-between for recovery. I was afraid to speak in class or at social events because of my raspy voice and the phlegm building up in my throat. I felt like an alien in my own body, and feared for the impression I was making on other people. My usually upbeat personality was stifled.

When one cold lingered for weeks and I suspected it had turned into something else, I made my way to the infirmary to get checked out. I dubiously accepted a pamphlet on what a cold was and asked the doctor one more time, “Are you sure it’s just a cold?”

“Just use nasal spray,” she responded. I followed her instructions. Instead of getting better, I noticed a strange feeling in my chest when I coughed, and became more and more scared of what was wrong with me.

The CVS MinuteClinic confirmed I had bronchitis onset by a neglected sinus infection. I took all the prescriptions in stride, desperate to finally feel like myself again. I couldn’t believe the university infirmary had been so off, and that I, who used to get sick maybe twice a year, had been whammied with illnesses since the moment I stepped on campus. No one had warned me how susceptible living in a communal dorm made you to getting sick, but after hearing the coughs ring through the hallways and lecture halls, I can attest it is a real concern that students should be aware of before they select their housing for the year.