It’s been a while since my last post, and I do have good reasons for that I promise! The end of October/start of November is exam period, and during that period I got ill. Although the last few weeks have been a bit stressful, it’s been an enriching experience. If you decide to spend a year in a foreign country, it’s pretty much inevitable that you’ll become ill there at some point, and it’s important to know what to do in that situation. I had the flu, and generally there’s not much you can do about a flu. A doctor/self-diagnosis on the internet would tell you to rest at home and drink plenty of fluids – basically, have a cup of tea and wait for all this to blow over. So that’s what I did for a few days. Despite feeling awful, staying at home and not having to go to lectures or do any work is quite nice…if you have a working internet connection. I didn’t. So the illness was probably made worse by the fact that I couldn’t binge watch Friends on Netflix, and I didn’t have any DVDs to entertain me. It was a distressing time. So I whiled away the days talking on the phone to my parents and playing Temple Run. I got a new high score and everything.
But doing this day after day, and not feeling any better, started to take its toll so I decided to go see the doctor. When we started at the university we were told that there was a doctor’s office on campus whose services were available to us for the whole academic year for small fee of 5€. Obviously, everyone signed up for this, and it was particularly reassuring for Erasmus students who were unsure how medical treatment would be available to us. Even though I only had to pay a measly 5€ for this service, I feel I’ve been cheated. I tried to visit the doctor on three separate occasions, and I’m yet to lay eyes on this person. I couldn’t even tell you if the doctor is male or female. The last time I tried was an emergency. I’d started getting headaches in the night, the worst pain I’ve ever experienced, and without sounding like a hypochondriac, I didn’t know what they were so I started to really worry. I rushed into uni a third time to see the doctor to learn that the office is closed on Fridays. What could I do? Well, I went into the International Office on campus and I did what I’m good at; bursting into tears and being emotional. At least that worked! The women in the office were very concerned and extremely helpful. They led me to a nearby doctor, to whom I had to explain my symptoms. Medical terminology isn’t something we’ve ever covered broadly in French lessons, (not since year 7 at least) so it wasn’t easy! I did my best, and the doctor told me I had a sinus infection. Panic over!
If you do get ill, here are some invaluable tips:
- If you’ve got time, do a quick WordRef search for any terms you’re unsure of before seeing a doctor.
- Make sure you have cash on you. It never crossed my mind that I’d have to pay to see a doctor. You’ll be given a receipt to claim it back afterwards.
- Remember to ask for a note if you miss any lectures. I forgot to do this, and it’s been a pain trying to prove my absence to the university.
It wasn’t a happy experience, but with hindsight it was an overall positive one. I’ve never been so independent in my life, I put my French skills into practical use, and improved my overall self-confidence. It is experiences like this that really make the year abroad. The more time I spend abroad, the more I realise that studying is only one little part of it. Dealing with real life situations and just doing day to day things, as you would in your home country, is the real test of survival.