Life In The Petri Dish

Life In The Petri Dish

Tips on how to survive the first back-to-school epidemic.

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.

Cover Image Credit: Helen Sternberg

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Being Sick In College Is A Real Struggle

Being sick in college is definitely not as fun as having a sick day in middle school or high school.


Something that I have had to deal with multiple times these past two semesters is being sick while in school. It can be a real pain especially depending on what type of sickness it is. I have had tonsillitis, mono, and I'm pretty sure I also had the flu.

Being at school and away from home can make being sick worse because there is nobody to take of you such as your parents. Another thing is having to make the decision to get the rest that your body needs in order to feel better or staying on top of your assignments to avoid falling behind. My parents will always tell me to get a good night's sleep so my body can feel better the next day. However, sometimes I will feel more stress if my work isn't getting done and I feel like I'm falling behind and leaving things to get done in the last minute.

Currently, I am sick now and the past few days haven't been easy, but I still attended all my classes so I wouldn't miss any material or assignments that were given. I usually end up feeling the worst at night when trying to fall asleep, and by that time the doctors are not present at the student health center. Even though my health is important I usually don't like taking too much time out of my day to go to the health center to see a doctor. Some days I don't really have much free time before the evening.

I don't believe I have been over-exerting myself, but I don't want to just stay in my bed all day and sleep, even though that may be what is best for me. Most professors will be understanding if I email them and provide them a doctor's note as well, but I also just got back from a conference where I had to miss two days of classes next week.

I have been trying to keep hydrated so that way my body can fight the sickness. Also, I have been told if you stay hydrated you can flush the virus out of your body quicker.

Eating can also be a pain when you have a sore throat, for the past couple of days I have tried to have some soup in order to help. Most meals I would have to force myself to eat something of substance in order to give my body some type of energy in order to get through the day. It's also never fun not being able to breathe out of your nostrils. If it wasn't my nose being stuffed, then it would be constantly runny so there was no winning that battle.

Looking back, I probably should have done a bit more work over spring break in order to get ahead in the case that something like this would happen. I wanted my break to be exactly that, a break. After not being home for a few months I just wanted some time off to relax.

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