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Avoiding illness in college

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I live in Burbank, Stern. I miraculously escaped norovirus and all the yakking that comes with the package. I escaped the flu and the muscle aches that it entails. I did not, however, escape the 100+ degree (and fluctuating) fever I currently have while writing this article. 

From the beginning of New Student Orientation, I understood that I would get sick in college at some point, regardless of how many EmergenC packets and Ricola cough drops I downed. Had I known that my illness would attack me during midterm season like a guerilla fighter, I would have drastically revised my routine. Here are three simple actions I would have done differently.

Rather than shaking hands with people, fist bump them. 

“It was pure hell for about six hours and then I was fine,” recounts Burbank resident, Jakob Nordhagen ’23, reminiscing on his experience catching the infamous Stern Hall stomach illness. Weeks before Nordhagen caught norovirus, I can recall him going out on the regular, meeting new people and (of course) shaking those peoples’ hands. I wonder, had Jakob fist bumped –– or maybe even hugged –– his friends and the new people he met, would he have avoiding catching “noro”? 

Don’t go to those parties that last until 3 a.m. on Wednesday nights.

Peer pressure: that’s all that needs to be said. Now don’t get me wrong, I wanted to go out; I was not forced to go out, and it was a conscious decision. However, some other fun activities I could have engaged in instead of dancing at midnight to blasting music are watching an episode of TV, reading a book in bed or having a meaningful conversation with some friends back in my room. Instead, I killed my immune system and exacerbated my problems by following everyone else who was rolling out into the blistering cold to Kairos and EBF. No wonder I’m still sick, even after five recovery days. 

Finish homework ahead of time.

Completing required work is 10 times harder when you have a contracted illness lingering around. You feel the urge to cough every ten seconds, wash your hands every minute and blow your nose between p-set problems. All of these small tasks add up and distract you from completing deep, focused work. Had I known I would have a fever, I would not have procrastinated by putting my homework off for the weekend. Rather, I would have been proactive by ramping up study hours and gifting myself free time –– free time for rest and nothing else!

Unless you have the immune system of a god, I can promise you that you will get sick (or already have gotten sick) at some point during your college career. During such turbulent times, it is important to value proper rest, general wellness and good health over everything else. Allotting time to recover now is vital to your success in nurturing your mind and body back into good health. So stay healthy my friends. Wash your hands constantly, shoot for at least nine hours of sleep and eat your oranges. 

Contact Matthew Mettias at mmettias ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Matthew ("Matt") Mettias '23 writes for the Grind. He is from Aiea, Hawaii. His hobbies include taking care of his Chihuahua puppy; playing pickup basketball; and listening to Jawaiian, rap/hip-hop and 1960s music. Contact him at mmettias 'at' stanford.edu.