The frosh plague

Nov. 6, 2018, 2:00 a.m.

You pulled an all-nighter finishing that p-set because you’re a master procrastinator, you went to your extracurricular activity, you ate dinner with your friends and then you went to an event. You thought you could do it all. You wake up the next morning with a sore throat and a fever. You think, “No, there’s no way.” But you’re wrong. Now you’re sick. The next thing you know, everyone around you is sick, too. Sound familiar?

This is the story of some freshmen at Stanford. Unfortunately, in an environment that’s basically the human form of a petri dish, it’s so easy to get sick even if you try hard to avoid it. If you take good care of yourself, get enough sleep, eat well and practice good hygiene, you probably think you’re immune. But even then, you can still get sick. Say you’re talking to a friend who secretly has bronchitis developing, and you don’t even know it. You give her a hug and a high five, and the next thing you know, you’ve got the frosh plague. Or say you’re perfectly healthy, but your roommate catches a cold. More likely than not, you’ll have it soon, too. It’s pretty much inevitable.

But the frosh plague doesn’t apply exclusively to frosh. The majority of kids who get sick might be frosh because we’re all adjusting to a new environment that our immune systems have not yet been exposed to, but upperclassmen can get sick too (maybe just not as much).

I’d be a hypocrite if I told you to take care of yourself and get some sleep, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do, and that’s what you should do if you don’t want any chances of getting sick. Here are some pretty obvious but often overlooked tips you can follow to minimize your chances of getting the frosh plague.

Wash your hands.

This should be fairly obvious, but I’m often surprised by the lack of handwashing I sometimes witness. While hand sanitizer can be a fair alternative in some situations, there’s no equivalent substitute for a good hand wash. Of course, you should wash your hands after using the bathroom, but you should also wash your hands before and after eating, after shaking someone’s hand and periodically throughout your day. And I don’t just mean a quick rinse. Wet your hands, rub soap between and around your fingers and palm for a good 20 seconds minimum and then wash them off with warm water. If you want to be extra careful, use a paper towel to open the door to avoid getting germs from those ignorant (and gross) people who don’t wash their hands.

Stay nourished and hydrated.

It’s easy to put off or forget about eating, but you’re body needs food to sustain itself. Make sure you eat a balanced diet. It can be easy to carb-load and grab a plate full of marinara sauce on pasta and a nice bowl of soft-serve for dessert, but don’t forget your veggies! They love you, and you should love them, too.

Get some sleep.

This piece of advice is very hypocritical of me; unfortunately, I’ve pulled several all-nighters already, but honestly, it’s important to sleep. Not just because it feels good, but because it’s necessary. Maybe it’s worth it once in a while to not finish that essay, take the L (or should I say the C+) and get some rest instead. Maybe pushing away the FOMO and skipping that frat party all your friends are going to to get some rest could be a good thing.

Take care of yourself. Protect yourself from the frosh plague. The future you will be thankful.


Contact Vilina Mehta at vmehta19 ‘at’


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