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Sniffles in Sweden

Lyndsay Burginger

Getting sick in a foreign country is a traveller's worst nightmare. 

Heck, getting sick is a pain in the butt. No one wants it, so they give it away to everyone around them.

"Would you like to cough and hack and wheeze for the next week?"



I had a bit of a cough as I boarded the plane. I was armed with an artillery of my best weapons. Painkillers, vitamin C, and their trusty grape flavoured tank, Dimetapp, which is a cough syrup. The cough went away for a while. But it was too good to be true.

Here at the university we have a week filled with parties, games and late-night outings created to kick-off the new school year. The name? Kick-off. Yeah, it makes sense.

Kick-off is essentially a breeding ground for germs. You are running on no sleep, you are stressed because you are in a completely new environment and you are constantly surrounded by people. The common cold cries with joy at this time every year.

So I got sick. Like, I'm coughing up a wet lung sick. And my friend Paul got sick. And Gerd. And Sara and Fabian and Ronnie, Klara and Stephan. Our entire hallway is a chorus of coughing and blowing of noses. It's a germaphobe's version of Hell.

After visiting the pharmacy a few times to get cough medicine and throat drops, my friend Sara advised me to see the doctor.

"But isn't it expensive?" My co-pay in the States is a mere $25, however I had no idea what the cost would be here for a foreigner.

"Free," she smiles. "It's a walk-in clinic about a 10-minute walk from here, right next to the systembolaget," she says, referring to one of the two liquor stores in the entire city. "I can walk with you?"

The waiting room reminds me of a spa. Relaxing music streams out of the speakers as a bowl of ripe fruit and a large coffee maker sits on a table, welcoming its guests. The room is eerily quiet. So quiet that you can hear my sister chewing on her snack of mixed nuts prominently. We talk by texting each other, even though we are sitting side-by-side.

I fill out paperwork, show a confirmation that I am a student and I am whisked away into an exam room. A nurse examines me, tells me what nose spray I should use, and talks to me for a few minutes about other alternatives.

"We've had so many students come in this week with the same symptoms, but unfortunately it's just a cold. Prescriptions won't do a thing. Drink some tea, get some rest, and if you still feel bad in a few days come back in."

Well, it's been a few days and I'm still sick. I'm planning on visiting the doctor after the weekend to get some kind of relief.

My advice to travellers: take lots of vitamins and wash your hands frequently. I've missed a lot of opportunities because I couldn't go out places. And that's no fun.

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Published in Study Abroad Blogs
Lyndsay Burginger

Lyndsay Burginger is an American student studying Mass Communication abroad in Jönköping, Sweden. She holds an AAS in Culinary Arts and plans on engulfing herself in Swedish food and culture. Follow Lyndsay's adventures in Sweden!

Website: www.cookandagoodbook.com

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