Intercultural

What Happens When You Get Sick While Studying Abroad

Marley Kropp is a student at Grove City College and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Sevilla, Spain.

While I was preparing to study abroad, I was excited about getting to know a new culture, meeting other students, and traveling. I was glad that I had health insurance and travel insurance, but I did not think too much about what would happen if something actually went wrong. Then I got sick during my first week in Spain. I was already dealing with culture shock, taking a two-week intensive Spanish grammar course, and adjusting to life with a host family. That was a lot to handle during the first week abroad. This isn’t a sob story, though. Instead, it’s a reflection on what turned into a learning opportunity.

This is the kind of scene it’s easy to focus on when thinking of studying abroad.

This is the kind of scene it’s easy to focus on when thinking of studying abroad.

A blog post about Seville would seem incomplete without including some details of the beautiful Plaza de España.

A blog post about Seville would seem incomplete without including some details of the beautiful Plaza de España.

My fellow ISA students and I met our host families in Seville on a Saturday and started a two-week intensive Spanish grammar course at the ISA Study Center the following Monday. After the first full day of class, our ISA directors took us out for an official Welcome Dinner. However, I left the restaurant early because my stomach did not feel quite right. When I returned to my host family’s home, I felt even worse. It was frustrating to try to use broken Spanish to explain to my host mom how I felt. She was patient with me, and I now know the words for “nausea,” “stomach,” and “not hungry.” That taught me an important lesson in being patient with myself while adjusting to life in a new country. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed while not knowing how to explain something that seems basic.

It’s nice that there are still payphones to use to call your host mom when you don’t yet have a local phone number.

It’s nice that there are still payphones to use to call your host mom when you don’t yet have a local phone number.

The next morning, I was worse off than I had been the previous night. I went to the ISA Study Center, and the ISA staff arranged a visit to the doctor for me. Everyone who helped me navigate the Spanish healthcare system was patient and kind. ISA has an agreement with a doctor’s office in Seville that provides English translators and a free taxi to pick up and drop off ISA students anywhere in the city. The doctor concluded that I had some kind of stomach flu and wrote me an official note so that I could explain my absence from class. For the next few days, my host mom prepared smaller portions of plain food for me. She was happy to do anything she needed to so that I could feel better. It’s important to remember that the people who work with study abroad students know what we are going through and want to help us. Getting sick reminded me that everything won’t always be perfect, but learning how to deal with that is part of the adventure of studying abroad.

It’s great to get back to exploring your new city if you haven’t been able to do so for a few days.

It’s great to get back to exploring your new city if you haven’t been able to do so for a few days.

The world awaits…discover it.

1 reply »

  1. I am shortlisted in a photography competitition for the University of Manchester for a photo taken on a residence abroad. It was taken i Guangzhou, China with a Nikon D200 in June last year. If you could give the photo a like it would be much appreciated!

    Like

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