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How to Survive an Oberlin Sick Day

October 18, 2021

Biba Duffy-Boscagli ’23

Sick days as an adult are decidedly unglamorous. In elementary school, a sick day meant sleeping in until 11, then limping downstairs to watch every Harry Potter movie with a pint of ice cream. This ritual was broken only by my parents offering medicine and a couple moments of soup slurping. In college, though you have your friends and people you live with, when you become sick, everyone else must continue living their lives. So, the soup slurping, ice cream buying, and potential movie watching is all up to you. Fortunately, I’m sick right now, and what you’re about to read is a comprehensive guide to having the best sick day possible, at Oberlin specifically. 

1. Get tested for everything! 

The moment I felt a cold coming on, I made an appointment with student health. Especially in a world where COVID exists, it is imperative to not only take care of your own health, but to also be responsible for the people around you. I took a rapid COVID test and a strep throat test. That day I also went to get a PCR COVID test. Within the week all tests came back negative, and I was diagnosed with a simple yet terrible cold. Now, less stressed but still sick, I went back to my room to prepare for an official sick day.

2. Request an emergency single

Oberlin has spaces set up for students who wish to quarantine, no matter their sickness. I requested an emergency single room in an effort to not infect my roommate with any germs. This semester, I’m living in a co-op called Tank. It's a huge Victorian mansion with lots of nooks and crannies, and a few empty single rooms. Thankfully, the emergency sigle was right next door to my room. It looked a bit like a miniature version of my room, but when I moved in bedding, all my medicines, and a couple outfits, it began to feel like home. 

3. E-mail all your professors

This is certainly a responsibility you never had to worry about as a kid. Now, it may be one of the most important things you have to do. At Oberlin, because of the small class sizes, professors have always been incredibly understanding towards my requests to miss class due to sickness. Most recently, when I sent out a slew of emails explaining why I couldn't come to class, each professor encouraged me to attend office hours when I felt better. Some even replied with supplementary material so that I could keep up with the class. Though the receptiveness of my professors is reassuring, their response takes me to my next piece of advice.

4. Do your homework

Congested and unmoving in bed, homework may feel like the last thing you can focus on. But drag your decrepit body to a desk and start studying because keeping up with homework will ensure that you will be on track for all your classes when you are able to go back in person. I found that after being cooped up all day in a single room with only fluids and medicine to think about, focusing on French grammar or theories of relativity was a welcome relief. By completing homework assignments, professors are also able to communicate how your work is going even though you’re not in class. Though painful at times, completing the assignments on time is ultimately worth it. 

5. Get a warm meal 

When I say get a warm meal, what I really mean is a direct walk to Kim's around 6:15 and order a hot pot or a stew. In this case, any warm soupy meal works, but Kim's is my strongest recommendation. The warm energy in the store is always inviting, the service is always surprisingly fast, and their spicy pork may heal you. On a colder night, when you feel congested or you’ve been coughing as if you have a plague for the last twenty minutes, a warm meal is well deserved. 

6. Rely on your friends 

Though there's a lot you have to do on your own as a sick college student, when my friends found out I was sick, they began checking on me regularly. After a day of missing meals and class, I heard a knock at the door only to find that my friend Elliot had bought me candy and kleenex. Later that week my friend Post offered to drive me to CVS, where I roamed the aisles like a zombie, poking at cough syrups and Vitamin C. When in doubt, turn to your friends; mine provided lovely comfort and support though my whole sickness. 

7. Snacks will save you 

In the same vein, I made the short trip out to Walmart with a few friends, because snacks are necessary for any successful sick day. Choose what you love! Get something crunchy and something sweet, and definitely something that you can leave an arm's length away when hunger strikes. 

8. Watch a movie 

Yes, sick days may look different now, but there's always time for a little traditional nostalgia. With snacks at hand and kleenex nearby, put on a movie and let yourself really relax. Usually, with a regular college schedule there's not much time to sit down midday to watch a movie or even a show. I used that time to my advantage to finally sit down and watch a movie all the way though. This was always my favorite part of being sick as a kid, and it was nice to experience that feeling a little bit again.

9. Do something creative

Make art! Make lots and lots of art, or do something you enjoy that is not taking medicine and lying in bed. Though those things are necessary when sick, after the third day they begin to feel like a painful, unending cycle. Taking your mind off of being sick while also doing something you enjoy makes the time fly by. For instance, I am taking an intro photo course for the first time in my life. I spent hours learning to use a film camera, develop film, and finding moments worth capturing with a camera. If you become invested in your creative outlet, you can keep it up even when you recover from being sick. 

10. Get fresh air 

As I mentioned earlier, this semester I live in Tank, a co-op a few streets down from the Oberlin Hotel. The building is a huge old house with a beautiful wrap-around porch. While it’s still a little warm we eat all our meals on the porch together in true coop fashion. Though I tried to avoid eating meals on the porch and spreading unnecessary germs, while everyone was in class I loved taking tea to the Tank porch. During the lulls in the day when everyone is off at work or in class, the porch swing is a lovely peaceful place to sit and breathe in some fresh air. 

Finally, know that you will get better, your sick day will pass and you’ll return to your regular hectic Oberlin schedule. Take in the slow days while you can, sip on tea all day and always prioritize your health.

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