Being sick in a different country is not fun. Granted, being sick in general is not fun. But when I was sick in Spain, it was really a challenge. Not because I was deathly ill or had to go to the hospital or anything, but because my mom wasn’t around. I was self-diagnosed with a nasty case of homesickness (and a cold).
I was sitting in bed one night, surrounded by a pile of tissues, trying to decipher my new Spanish medicines when it hit me. I really just wanted my mom. I wanted to lay in my own bed back home and watch TV and eat shapes macaroni and cheese. For the first time since my adventure started, I didn’t want to be the responsible adult. Honestly, at one point I found myself daydreaming about how much I missed feety-pajamas.
The next morning, I couldn’t sleep and went downstairs for breakfast much earlier than usual. That’s when my host mom realized I was sick. Her expression basically said, “¡Ay Dios mio! It’s 7 am on Saturday! Katie’s awake before noon?? Call the doctor!”
And let me tell you, once Marie, my host mom, knew I wasn’t feeling well, she zoomed into full-blown mommy-mode. She must have asked me if I had enough blankets 6 times. Plus, she made me tea with honey and insisted I take a bit of medicine from her own cabinet.
Also, the ISA staff is fully prepared if anyone gets sick. They are wonderful about making sure all of their students are properly cared for. I walked into the ISA office at noon and had a doctor’s appointment at 7 pm that night! I didn’t even have to wait a day. The nicest part is that a member of the staff comes with you to your appointment as a translator/parent figure.
I will admit, going to a Spanish doctor is very strange. It’s interesting trying to explain to a doctor what you’re feeling if you don’t have the right vocabulary. For instance, how exactly do you say “sinus pressure?” The ISA staff member and doctor might giggle when you describe it as “it feels like someone is sitting on my face.” But you’ll get your point across, no problem.
Next, let’s talk medicine. It is true that medicine is different in Spain. However, it really is just the packaging that’s different, not the actual product. Make sure to ask about your medicines before you take them, just to know what to buy next time. Also, if your parents are anything like mine, they’ll want to know how you’re feeling/what you’re taking. They miss you too!
Overall, it’s important to remember that there are people in Spain who can help you. Medicines, hot tea, LOTS of tissues, and some host-mom love will scare away your cold. And once that’s taken care of, ISA’s staff and Skype will cure even the ugliest form of homesickness.
After all, you haven’t experienced everything abroad until you’ve traveled on the road to recovery!