How not to break your body within a month of moving abroad
So here’s the problem. One moment you were all cosy in your home university, and after a summer of overindulgence and suncream-neglect, your little body was all excited for the autumnal routine of wearing fourteen layers in your chilly old digs, winding down with New Girl and a porcelain bucket of Tetleys. Then what? You uproot yourself, pack your life into two suitcases (or one suitcase and hand-luggage if you’re stingy) and completely disrupt the system. Add an intense fear of failing to make friends, a complete inability to navigate foreign supermarkets and the temptation to saturate one’s liver with suspicious sambucca, and there you have it – the divine combo for Freshers’ Flu II – Deluxe Year-Abroad Edition.
Which brings us to this glorious Tuesday in Barcelona. Today I lie in my apartment, shutters down, a ruin of a human. I won’t and can’t move, apart from limping periodically from kitchenette to bed at the hourly re-emergence of my appetite. As I sink into martyrdom, I feel it’s necessary to compile a list of ways for others to avoid falling to the bitter grip of Freshers’ Flu II. To save you from such sorry fate, and for your delectation, here’s my comprehensive guide to maintaining good health abroad.
1. The money you save by buying €2 sangria is directly proportional to the pain you’ll feel by the end of a week’s partying.
It’s tempting. But pouring it into your poor old belly is like inviting someone to take a sledgehammer to your health.
2. Don’t allow FOMO to stop you sleeping
I know, it’s difficult. Take a step out of the sunshine and sit in your room, and within thirteen minutes you’ll be wondering what you’re missing and paranoid that everyone’s forgotten you exist. Chances are they probably have - but you can remind them of your scintillating personality after a nice early night.
3. Stop snogging everyone
I know, I know, snogging is fun. I know you’re probably hanging around in a crew of people from every fingertip of the globe, and that’s really exciting. I know the temptation to dabble in a little tongue-wrestling with the crème de la crème of the ERASMUS crowd will be omnipresent. But let’s just remember that kissing can transfer Glandular Fever, Hep B, Colds, Herpes and tooth decay, among other gross unmentionables. Tasty.
4. If you’re somewhere warm, stop worshipping the sun
Or at least use a bit of suncream. Otherwise you’ll get sunstroke, and everyone who’s already acclimatised to hot weather will laugh at your sunburn, leaving you to feel like an ashamed beef-tomato. And no one wants that.
5. Find someone who can speak the local language, and get them to help you do a food shop
Otherwise, you’ll panic and end up leaving the supermarket gripping UHT milk, half a watermelon and paella-mix (complete with powdered-prawns and usage guidelines that you don’t understand). Food is of utmost importance in life and in the protection of your immune system. Don’t underestimate it.
And if you forget all of the above and end up like me, fumbling around for lozenges like a feverish badger, try to remember the pain will soon be over once your body has fully punished you and buy your ibuprofen and crisps before you sleep it off.