Do you attend school? Live with a roommate? Maybe even occasionally work in a similar proximity to other human beings? Chances are, you do, so congratulations and welcome to the life-size petri dish.
As I'm sure you have already noticed, unless you have yet to leave your room in the past month or so, everyone on campus is walking around with a box of tissues, sniffling and coughing into the pit of their elbows. It's the annual back-to-school flu, when people from across the globe congregate and bring foreign diseases to a small, confined area. It's an inevitable, yearly epidemic that happens at every school across the country.
People have been struggling with this problem for centuries. Europeans managed to decimate Native American populations with the same principle. Our bodies aren't accustomed to dealing with the same germs and bacteria that other bodies from across the country might be, so we get sick easily. Combine this lack of immunity with people living and working in close quarters, and you've got the perfect platform for an epidemic to run wild.
So, assuming you haven't already broken a 100-degree fever this semester, how do you avoid the plague?
First, wash your hands constantly. Don't use hand sanitizer, you'll only make the problem worse. Washing your hands with warm water and soap multiple times per day and before every meal is the best way to avoid getting sick, even when it seems like a deadly minefield of sneezing and coughing people outside your dorm. You'll also want to be sure to wash them after going to places like the library, as everybody has been touching those same chairs you just spent eight hours studying in.
Now, if your roommate fails to follow this basic rule and manages to bring the illness into your room, don't lose hope, you may still be able to survive. If you keep food in the room, and usually share it with your roomie, ask them not to eat it until their fever breaks. On that note, try not to share anything with your roommate for a while. Essentially, you're going to want to quarantine him or her as much as possible. A hazmat suit may be a little overkill, but do avoid spending a lot of time in the room.
The most likely place you'll contract a sickness is at a party. Thirty people cramped in a dorm room with countless, identical and easily misplaced red solo cups is a virus' playground. Keep track of your drink and don't let others sip out of it, even if they don't appear sick.
Of course, sleep and a healthy diet are always a good way to boost your immune system, which will be your first line of defense in the case you have been contaminated.
These tips are basic, yes, but they truly are the best way to avoid getting sick during not only the first wave, but through all of the waves of illnesses that'll pass through campus. Classes are hard enough without having to deal with a stuffy nose or a high fever, don't make it harder on yourself.