Avoiding Freshers’ Flu…and other tips for your orientation

How to survive the first week and stay healthy during Freshers' Week

As traditional as initiations to colleges and making fast friends at orientation parties, freshers’ flu is something all students will have to deal with. A new place – sometimes even a new continent – is bound to mess with your immune system. So, here are a few tips for avoiding the dreaded initiation influenza, allowing you to enjoy your first few weeks at university to the fullest.

Eat well

It may seem like something your mother would say, but seriously – eat well. Make sure you try out all of the welcome offers at your local SU. Locate and plot your route to the local supermarket or grocer’s. Make friends with your dorm-mates and make a plan to share meals. All of these things are essential if you want to eat well and stay healthy at uni. You’re on a budget…obviously! But that doesn’t mean making poor choices.

If your college has a catering option, it’s a little more straightforward. If it doesn’t? Then you have a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills. And remember, food is the way to a person’s heart so if you are cooking up a storm you’ll have new friends flocking at the doors in no time.

Top foods to eat to stave off those nasty germs? Go for a range of vegetables in different colours – variety is the spice of life after all. You may think you can’t afford expensive cuts of meat as a student. You may even be right. However, making veg packed stews or artfully decorated salads with a sliver of chicken can ensure you don’t miss out and get those all important proteins to keep you laughing all the way to Winter break.

Drink well

There will be a million offers for freshers’ in the local bars and clubs. 2 for 1, Ladies night, Happy hour. All of these are great. But a hangover? That’s like knocking down your front door and inviting in all of the potential illnesses into your wobbly immune system.

To avoid getting run down and flaking out before the end of the party there is one rule: pace yourself. Ensure you drink water periodically throughout any night out (and of course, prearrange your taxi home). Have a good meal before you go out, to allow your body time to process any alcohol you consume.

Remember: failing to prepare is preparing to fail. If you know there’s a “can’t miss out” party on a particular night then stock up. Ensure you have a good breakfast available to you the morning after the night before and a drink with added electrolytes to replace those you lose as you dance the night away. Always ensure you stay hydrated, and remember to remove your make-up when you get home to avoid blemishes, too. Do your bit for the environment too: get yourself a cute reusable bottle, and ditch the plastic.

Dress for the weather you have, not the weather you want

So you’ve chosen to study in Canada. That dress, or shirt, may look incredible. THAT person you’ve been dying to meet is going to be there. But the runny nose and streaming eyes you sport with your outfit when you catch a cold won’t allow you to make a lasting impression…well, a positive one anyway. Dress for the weather you have, and save that killer outfit for when it’s summertime and the living is easy.

Get a doctor

Registering with the local healthcare centre may not be top priority, but when your cold turns into a full blown bout of the flu you’re going to want to dose up. If you’ve not arranged your health care then that process will be delayed, leaving you with a serious case of FOMO whilst you lay in bed recovering. Speak to your counsellor, student ambassador or dorm-manager and make sure you have an idea of where to go when a stiff drink or an early night won’t cut it.

Join a team

The great thing about freshers’ week is the enthusiasm bubbling up for you to join all of the university’s teams. Take advantage of the taster sessions and free workouts at the gym. Work out which way of ‘working out’ works for you! Endorphins make you happy, and happy people are healthier. You may not have been a fitness fanatic before starting university, but it’s a great way to meet new people and to improve your immune system at the same time. Have a go…what’s the worst that could happen?


Take it easy

Remember, uni is a marathon not a sprint. Yes, you want to immerse yourself in the university lifestyle during freshers’ week. But there are so many opportunities to get involved throughout the academic year. Getting settled and finding your feet will include going to parties and making friends. Just make sure you also factor in making your room feel homely too though. Find a spot for the endless reading your course will require – a favourite tree to shelter under, or a snuggly chair in the campus coffee shop. Track your route to the gym and back. Relax, and remember: you’ve got all year to have fun. Take your time to get comfortable and ready to learn.