It Wasn’t Just Homesickness…





If there’s one piece of advice I can offer to someone hoping to study abroad: don’t get sick.

I should’ve just eaten an apple a day

Homesickness is inevitable for most, but what I caught during our third week set the tone for the rest of my trip abroad. I think I shared my water one too many times, and I ended up catching a cold that came with a free set of swollen tonsils and an occasional fever. What a deal!

We were in Hiroshima when it really hit me. I was upset that I had to miss going to the island with the rest of my class, but resting seemed more important than seeing the iconic floating gates.

A photo of The Great Torii (courtesy of the Miyajima website).

I felt a little better after resting that entire day, but I wasn’t at 100 percent. Before I knew it, I was feeling way worse, coughing, sneezing, making miserable noises of distress.

I missed a lot of class.

However, I did get to experience Japan’s healthcare system. After some encouragement from my professor, I decided I should just go to the hospital and see what’s up.

For background: I don’t particularly enjoy going to the doctor. I fractured my wrist in May and figured I didn’t actually need to go get it checked out (luckily it’s mostly healed now).

A pleasant surprise

The hospital was only a few blocks from school and although I was extremely intimidated at first, the English interpreter made me feel welcome. She was so sweet and anytime I was feeling nervous or confused, she would assure me that everything would be fine.

Aside from that great interaction, the customer service was amazing. There were only a few pages of paperwork to fill out; they even gave me a medical ID card in case I needed to come back during my stay.

I only waited five minutes to see the doctor, and my interaction with him was pleasant and quick. He could instantly tell that my tonsils were swollen and wrote up my prescriptions within a short span of two minutes.

Then, we went downstairs to pay and pick up my medicine. The total shocked me. It was only 9,400 yen (about 90 USD). This price included my consultation and four types medicine (very impressive considering I was an uninsured patient).
After receiving my medicine, I went back to the hotel and took my first dosage. It was quite an experience. One of the medicines was an herb-based powder. Believe me when I say that it’s 10 times as worse as liquid bubblegum flavored medicine.

After taking the majority of my medicine, I was feeling better, but I still felt like I had missed out on so much. I missed out on two weekend experiences, class time, and after school hangouts with the rest of my class and the Japanese friends I made.

Looking back, I still had a great time abroad, but I wouldn’t wish sickness on anyone trying to enjoy a foreign country.