Ada Abroad: Living and Working in Germany

An online journal recording two years spent as a Fulbright/Pedagogical Exchange Service Teaching Assistant at secondary schools in Germany. (2003-2004 I was in a village near Bautzen; 2004-2005 I will be in Nordrhein-Westfalen.)

Location: Münster, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

I'm an American living in Germany, working as a foreign language assistant at a secondary school. Future plans: getting my Ph.D. (probably in Germanic Linguistics), becoming a professor, living an ethical and meaningful life.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Andere Länder, Andere Viren?

So, I missed two days of work last week because, for the second time in three weeks, I had a really bad cold. It wasn't a relapse; it was definitely a different cold-- I was healthy for two weeks inbetween, and the symptoms were different. Last time it turned it a sinus infection; this time my ears hurt so bad that I had to borrow my roommate's hair drier to relieve the pain.*

Both times I went to the doctor, and he prescribed a bunch of herbal stuff to treat the symptoms. Too bad that it takes a day and a half to kick in. Plus, I can't keep missing work like this. The school has been very understanding about it so far, but I don't like disappointing the kids. Plus, I just don't having a sore throat/stuffy nose/fever/earache/disgusting cough so much of the time!

What I need to do is find out WHY I'm getting sick so often. I didn't have this problem in college, or last year-- and I was working at a school then, too, so I don't think that's the major culprit.

It has occurred to me that different garden-variety cold viruses might be prevalent in Europe than in North America, and that my immune system might just not be used to the German strains. (Question to readers living abroad: Do you guys also find that you get sick more where you're currently living than you did in the country you grew up in?)

Other ideas:

-Climate: German winters are cool and damp; Michigan winters are BITTER COLD and any humidity in the air immediately falls as snow.

-Public Transportation: I didn't use it much in college, and last year I only took the bus to town about once a week, and it was mostly empty. Here, I ride to Hamm and back on crowded commuter trains three days a week, and occasionally take the bus in Münster.

-School: The school I work at this year has roughly five times as many pupils as my former school, so I come in contact with a larger group of people.

: My doctor is running blood tests, because I 'look very pale.' But I've always been rather pale, and I haven't always gotten sick like this... Still, it is a possibility, especially since I'm vegetarian, though I do try to eat plenty of legumes and spinach, which are high-iron foods.

Change of topic: Within the past week, I've been notified of admission to both UC Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin-Madison! Unfortunately neither program can tell me much about financial aid until March, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed (and squeezing my thumbs). Hopefully things will work out there and with Penn State, too, and then I'll have several different graduate programs to choose from. :)

*You let the hot air blow into your ears. It helps. Really.