Exchange Wk6&7 – Wellness

It’s been a while since I posted! A lot has happened – both good things, and bad… This blog is going to be focusing on two different parts. Of course, I’ll recap my experience from the 26th of September to the 9th of October (which actually happened more than a month ago at the time of writing this), but I also want to share about the time I got sick, and the resilience I gained from this.

Part of this reflection will appear personal in nature. My hope is that others will be able to learn from what I share, especially those who are considering exchanges or life abroad. Ultimately, I want people to know that when they go through similar experiences, they are not alone. I know this all seems very vague at the moment, so let’s jump in!

🤢 Sickness

As evident from the suggestive emoji, over weeks 6 and 7, I had some pretty bad bouts of sickness. On the 26th of September, during my multivariate calculus lecture, every time I looked up at the screen and then back to my notebook I felt dizzy. Leaving my lecture early, I went to my room to lie down, but first stopped at the vending machine to buy a red Powerade. Feeling unwell, I lied in my bed. The dizziness intensified, and when I looked at the wardrobe doors in front of me, it appeared they were rapidly moving back and forth. I tried closing my eyes, but then my mouth erupted with a red-Powerade spew – I didn’t make it to the toilet…

This graphic tail may not seem that much of a big deal – “so what, he got sick!” Well, the reality was I had no idea what to do! I knew I needed to get help, but how was I supposed to do that? I’d never seen a doctor in the US before. Looking through my phone, I found the number of the Student Health Centre, and rang them up to get help. They had no doctor appointments, but said they’d get a nurse to call me back. In the mean-time I was scooping up my red spew to clean up the mess I’d made in my bedroom and bathroom. I was weak and unwell, yet I had to clean it up there and then, because I couldn’t do anything to rest whilst this mess persisted.

Finally the nurse called me back, and when she noticed how unwell I was, they organised a triage doctors appointment so I could be seen to. On getting seen by the nurse and doctor, I received excellent care! I mention receiving excellent care, because I feel there is a stigma in other countries about how poor health care is in the US. Maybe it was because I went to a health centre run by the University, but I think the reality is that healthcare is good, as long as you can afford the expensive health insurance. Anyway, on being seen by the doctor, I was diagnosed with vertigo, and was given some medication to get better.

Why mention this elaborate tail of the time I spewed?

In this situation, I felt venerable, unsure, and anxious. Just a standard thing like being sick overseas felt so much more significant then back at home. It was distressing, and I really struggled with what to do. It is also these moments of hardship that you realise how far away from home you are. I want others to know that when they have these experiences, you can get through it like I did.

It also taught me to not be so hard on myself. A few days later on the 29th of September, I had an exam for one of my classes. I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, and I found it is so easy to beast myself up and to feel like a failure. However, I think it is important to reframe the situation and look at the facts. I did very well when considering that I had still been recovering from vertigo. Also, I had done even better when considering that I was still adjusting to life outside of home.

On the 6th of October, I went to live with my friend’s family for two days (more on that later). I also got really sick, and had to spend most of my time resting. It was far from ideal, but looking back at these two times I got sick, it has proven to myself that I’m resilient, and am able to get through to the other end!

Anyway, now that my “sick” rant is over, let’s get into more of the fun stuff that I did!

💙💛 Parramatta Grand Final 💛💙

It was really disappointing to miss the Parramatta Eels live at the Grand Final, but I was happy to wake up at 4am to watch them play! Unfortunately I didn’t have any snacks, so enjoyed eating some cheerios.

It was disappointing that they didn’t get the win, but I was so proud of them for making it to the big game!

🏖 New Jersey

As mentioned earlier, on the 6th of October, I had the pleasure of being invited to stay with my friend Jame’s family at their home in New Jersey! To get there, James arranged a train for us to catch from William H. Gray III Station. I know it might seem a bit weird to go into the details of a train station, but this place was so grand – I felt even shorter than usual!

After reaching our stop in New Jersey, on the ride to my friend’s place, we stopped for Chick-fil-a drive through, my first experience of this American icon! As a tangent, one of the things that I find funny here in the States is that everyone has their favourite fast food places, and people get defensive about what friend chicken shop is best!

Shortly after, we went for a walk along the Ocean City Boardwalk. This was a massive Boardwalk along the beach, with heaps of shops. It was beautiful!

Unfortunately though, this is where my health took a turn for the worse, and I was sick in a bathroom – I didn’t catch a break this fortnight! Also, as another tangent, people in the US don’t use the word “fortnight”, and they always laugh when I say it. Anyway…

Despite the sickness, I had such a special time with James and his family over the two days. It was really nice to be a part of a family environment again, and eat a home cooked meal (well, as much as my sick stomach would allow me). I’m so grateful for the trip, and that James looked after me whilst I was unwell!

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