Colds, Aches and Pains Abroad

Catching a cold, getting a stomach bug, food poisoning, migraines, and a few minor booboo’s here and there. No one thinks about getting sick abroad, but it most definitely can happen. By far, every person I have met who has traveled or studied abroad has gotten sick with one thing or another. I personally had a pretty aggressive cold for a couple weeks, while a friend of mine experienced the stomach flu, and another friend got food poisoning while traveling. Dealing with a sickness of any sort while abroad can be a really stressful situation. Medicine is a bit different here in Europe. Most over the counter medicine has different labels than what we are used to in the United States. I once tried to get Neosporin at the local pharmacy here in Cork, and spent a good amount of time trying to figure out what the equivalent cream was. Simple medicine like ibuprofen, or Advil is also labeled differently. Though getting sick, in many cases, is unavoidable, there are sure ways to quickly recover.

1.) If you have access to campus health services, my best advice would be to take advantage of it. When I was sick and unable to attend class, I made an appointment with the health services doctor and with in a couple hours I was given a prescription and directions as to how I could get better in a timely manner. All of this was free of charge. Most campuses also offer free counseling too, if the stress does get to the better of you. Knowing all of the resources at your disposal early on in your semester, can make a huge difference later on!

2.) Before you leave for your host country, look up general information on how pharmacies work. Knowing what different kind of medicine is offered in your host country will also help ease any situation. Know the labels of your host country, and the dosage. In the states, most dosages on ibuprofen come in 200mg, but I have seen in many instances, one tablet of the ibuprofen equivalent being 1000mg here in Ireland.  It’s good to be educated about what you are putting in your body regardless, but it would be extremely unfortunate if you took the wrong dosage of a medicine abroad.

3.) It is okay to rely on your support systems abroad and at home. No one feels the strongest when they are sick, and if talking to mom or dad helps, then I would suggest doing it. My roommate helped me out a lot when I was sick, and I have done the same for her. We both know that being sick alone is not a fun situation at all, so if we can make the situation just a bit more bearable then we will. If you know something will help you feel better, then it is probably best that you do it.

Post sinus infection happiness!

Being sick abroad happens to the best of us, but it is an obstacle that is easy to overcome! A little bit of research and taking advantage of resources can go a long way!


Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs.  The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.