Magazine topic: 
Life around the world

Being ill abroad

by : 
DaljinderJ

Being ill is never fun but feeling under the weather while living abroad can sometimes feel even worse.

I’m currently working in Paris as a language assistant in a small but lovely primary school. I’m sharing a pretty apartment with two other girls and we’re all on our year abroad from the same English university.

However the new environment of Paris, the close quarters of our apartment and working with children has meant that I’ve found myself not feeling very well on more than one occasion.

I’ve now realised that when you're ill you miss the comforts of home much more: the sympathy of affectionate parents, your own personal space and of course, the little treats that always cheer you up.

The same could be said when living away from home and studying at a university in your home country. But when living abroad, it’s more likely that your favourite ritual of watching a particular show all day isn’t possible because of the lack of a television or good internet connection and the responsibilities of working or studying. The same applies to favourite snacks as I’ve discovered that a classic white loaf of sliced bread here is oddly a lot smaller. This sometimes isn’t quite satisfying when I’m missing my childhood favourite of curling up in bed with hot, fragrant soup and buttery toast.

Also, I’m sure many people will agree that there is a pressure to constantly do new things on a year abroad, therefore hiding in bed automatically creates some guilt and anxiety.

However, as difficult as it may at first seem, it’s important to not let these differences lead to more stress and illness. I’ve decided to use this as the chance to indulge and find new favourites so I’m now fond of cats’ tongues biscuits and French reality shows. I’ve also used the time to be productive. In addition to organising my lesson plans and completing important forms, I’ve cheered myself up by researching days out and city events to look forward to.

Nevertheless, it is quite soothing to wallow a bit and talk to friends and family back home. The girls that I’m living with also understand what I’m feeling so while bonding and sniffling into tissues together, we’ve come to decide that it’s all part of the experience of a foreign country. After all, the French get ill too!

Discussion

What do you like to do when you’re feeling ill?