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A Concordian abroad: ‘Don't head up sick creek without a paddle'

Student Meagan Boisse reports on her term in Denmark. This week, here’s her guide to dealing with illness away from home
February 17, 2016
By Meagan Boisse

Exchange student Meagan Boisse (top left) managed to pull herself out of bed long enough to attend a Chinese New Year's celebration with some new friends. Exchange student Meagan Boisse (top left) managed to pull herself out of bed long enough to attend a Chinese New Year's celebration with some new friends in Aarhus, Denmark.

Meagan Boisse is an undergraduate student in the Department of Journalism, and a member of the Institute for Co-operative Education. For her last work term, she was employed as a roving reporter at

Now, through Concordia International, Boisse is spending the winter 2016 term studying at the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Aarhus, Denmark.

Unless you have a Herculean immune system, getting sick is an inevitable part of life. While feeling ill is always a bummer, it’s especially hard when you’re 5,622 km away from your own bed. Trust me.

These past days I’ve had the unpleasant experience of waking up in the wee hours of the morning nauseous, with a headache to boot.

Alas, I am still in recovery mode and had to skip my Danish lesson tonight. Spending an hour learning a notoriously difficult foreign language probably won’t better my situation. That being said I do feel I’ve gleaned some valuable insight from this most craptacular of experiences.

First off, while googling symptoms can be helpful, it can also serve as an unnecessary stressor and a good way to convince yourself you are either dying or pregnant, even if neither is possible. Take a deep breath in, take a deep breath out. Repeat.

Next, call your mom — unless of course it’s an actual medical emergency then call 911, or 112 if you’re in Denmark. Calling home is a good way to soothe yourself when dealing with hardship abroad. A familiar voice can go a long way. Never underestimate a mother’s ability to provide comfort, even if you’re oceans apart and all grown up.

Finally, students going on exchange should figure out how the medical system works in their host country prior to venturing out into uncharted territories. Lucky for me, as a resident of Denmark, I was given a doctor immediately upon entering the country — it was almost jarring how fast the process was, especially given that I’m still in need of a GP back in Quebec. Yay for socialism!

Unfortunately this is not normally the case, so it’s good to go over the what-ifs before you find yourself up sick creek without a paddle. This means having all the necessary information on hand — such as medical hotlines, the address of the closest hospital/clinic and emergency numbers.

As for me, I am currently curled up in my room with a cozy blanket, a big glass of water and three seasons of Vikings — all necessary components for a quick recovery!

Start your application for exchange today!


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