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Freshmen 101: How to Stay Healthy at Penn State

While I’ll admit that I existed solely on boxes of Cheez-Its as a freshman (and still managed to avoid the ever-feared Freshman 15), I’ll also admit that I did not escape freshman year with my health intact. That was precisely the year that I acquired some sort of mono-pink-eye-strep-throat combination. Two years later, as sick season quickly approaches, all of you now-freshmen are in danger of acquiring this plague and many others. So, here are a few steps to avoid the Freshman 15 and the plague in order to stay relatively healthy.

Get a flu shot

Needles are terrifying, but they also keep you healthy. So suck it up and head down to University Health Services for your flu shot. You can also get one at the HUB if that’s closer to you. University Park students only have to pay $18, and appointments can be scheduled on the UHS website. If paying money isn’t your thing, the CVS on Atherton and the CVS on West College both provide free flu shots with most insurance. Basically, there’s nowhere to hide from the flu shot, so you might as well get one.

Go to a health visit at UHS

At any time during the year, you can schedule a women’s or men’s health visit. They’ll give you all sorts of gender-specific exams, and even provide you with contraceptives.

Go to the UHS Pharmacy 

The pharmacy is located on the entry level of UHS and follows pretty standard business hours. Your healthcare provider can fax over your prescriptions and you can pick them up onsite. They also sell all of the over-the-counter products you may need to nurse yourself back to health, everything from thermometers to vitamins to yoga mats. Not sure why you’d need a yoga mat, but I’m no doctor.

Call the Advice Nurse

Nurses are available to students 24/7. All you have to do is call (814)-863-4463, tell them where it hurts, and they’ll advise you of your best course of action. Depending on what you tell them, they may advise you to seek immediate medical care or schedule an appointment. If you’re not sure whether or not you need medical attention, calling an Advice Nurse is your best bet.

Go to the Nutrition Clinic at UHS

If you’re not sick yet, but you want to do everything in your power to make sure you don’t get sick, the Nutrition Clinic will be your haven. You can schedule an appointment with a registered dietician to create a nutrition plan tailored to your needs. They can even work with you to help you make healthy decisions in the dining commons.

Schedule an appointment with CAPS

If it’s your mind and not your body that’s feeling sick, CAPS is the place to go. Though it’s daunting to contact counseling when you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s worth it and the advisors at CAPS make it easy. You’ll start by scheduling a 15-minute phone call called a triage. During this call, you’ll tell an advisor what’s been bothering you, and based on the severity of your problems, they’ll schedule an appointment for you to come in and meet with somebody. You’ll also be set up with a case worker who can find you a counselor downtown based on your insurance.

Remember, these are just the basics, and, once again, I’m not a doctor. If you follow all of these rules and still get a cold, I cannot be blamed. At the end of the day, staying healthy is basically just common sense. Don’t share bottles (of soda) with people you don’t know, make sure you wash your hands with soap, and try not to get too close to that coughing kid in your class. Follow these rules and you will most likely be okay.

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