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Freshman 101: Your First Illness Away From Home

**Disclaimer** — This is NOT a post relating to COVID-19. We’re talking about run-of-the-mill colds, stomach bugs, and the all-too-infamous “Penn State plague.” If you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or believe to have come into contact with a known positive, please get tested and take care of yourself.

It’s simply human nature to get sick. No matter how many precautions you take, there’s a high chance you’ll end up with a cold or an annoying stomach bug. 

For many, getting sick away from home for the first time can be hard. What medicine should you buy? How do you schedule a doctor’s appointment? If you’re like us, you’ll likely end up FaceTiming your mom multiple times to ensure you survive your first time being sick away from home. 

With cold and flu season quickly approaching, let’s get ready, people. Here are a few tips and tricks to get through your first under-the-weather excursion away from home.

Stock Up On The Essentials

Be prepared for any impending sore throats, stuffy noses, or stomachaches. Make the trek to your favorite retail store and stock up on all things over-the-counter. If they’re somehow out of stock, bite the bullet and place an online order to make sure you’re all set.

Pictured above, I included some of my basic essentials, including tissues, pain relief medications, cough drops, a thermometer, and even some Tums. No, I’m not sponsored by CVS or Target. But if they want to chat, our DMs are open.

Stay Home

I don’t know why I need to stress this, but I will. If you are sick, stay home! No, don’t go to a party just because it’s the weekend. Don’t go to your in-person class. Just email your professors and explain your situation. They’ll probably understand, as they’re also human and have been sick before, too. I can promise that no one else wants your germs.


This is the easiest thing to do, but sometimes also the hardest. As college students, it can feel like missing one day of class can set you back a whole week. If you are planning on doing work during your sick day, don’t. Your body and brain need rest. Sit back, take a nap, and binge-watch something on Netflix. Your body will thank you later.

Drink Water

When you are sick, you’re probably so focused on not feeling well that you may be missing one key need: water. Dehydration is only going to make you feel worse. I suggest keeping a couple bottles of water near your bedside and sipping on them throughout the day as you go on a binge-watching splurge.

Contact University Health Services

If you still aren’t feeling well after a day or two, don’t be afraid to reach out to University Health Services (UHS). They are here to help you and want to help you. Man up and schedule your own doctor’s appointment. Also, UHS is currently offering telemedicine visits. This means you can go to the doctor’s office without getting out of bed!


I am not joking or saying this to be funny. Being sick can really mess with your emotions (which is another reason I suggest resting), but being sick while away from home can make you feel very alone. Let it out, folks. You may even feel better when you are done. Reach out to friends or family to let them know you aren’t feeling that great.

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About the Author

Dana June Nunemacher

Dana is a redshirt sophomore, who is studying public relations. She is from the 570 and yes, she has watched The Office. Her passions in life include drinking unsweetened iced tea and spreading her love for agriculture (yee haw)! Send any cow pictures or complaints to [email protected]


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