The funny side of being sick and injured abroad

I am a luckless person, both at home and abroad. I often find myself stricken with some strange illness that is rare, unexplainable, and fortunately harmless. Here are some of my stories about being ill or injured abroad.

A Swiss rash

My first experience abroad also was my first time being sick abroad. After being in the UK, France, and Liechtenstein, my tour group spent two days in beautiful Lucerne, Switzerland.  Maybe it was all the different hotel soaps or hiking in the Swiss Alps, but I had developed a rash on my right calf. I also imagined that maybe it was stress-induced eczema since the group of people from my high school that were on the trip were full of drama. After four days in Munich and Heidelberg,  I returned to the states and was able to seek medical attention. Doctors gave me no explanation for the rash and prescribed a cocktail of medication to clear it up. I ended up being allergic to one of the antibiotics prescribed, go figure.


Sleepless in Madrid

Before studying abroad in college, I had spent months filling out paperwork and stressing about everything. It was no surprise that most of my stress did not dissipate when I arrived in Madrid. With the time difference and change in my environment, my sleeping patterns became worse. I had not slept through the night until 3 weeks into being in Spain. Being sleep deprived makes it difficult to tour for hours on end.


Tossing my cookies before Portugal

My stomach problems often leave my body reeling. In Spain, I had an irregular diet and I couldn’t stomach as much as I usually can. My host mom was an excellent cook but the sheer amount of food she would make for lunch (the biggest meal of the day in Spain) was impossible to conquer. Trying to appeal to our American taste buds, she would often prepare “American” dishes like “ham”burgers and fried chicken. One night, we had chicken fried in olive oil. It did not sit well with me. I went to bed early, ready to wake up at 4 am to catch a 5 am bus to Albufeira, Portugal. Being up so early combined with the heavy meal I ate the night before resulted in me tossing my cookies at 4:45 am on a Spanish storefront. On the bus to Portugal I felt great.


Getting nauseous in the Mediterranean Sea

During one of our weekend trips, we traveled to the south of Spain. The weekend trip was to Cabo de Gata. Many of us signed up for snorkeling in the Mediterranean Sea. The waters were so choppy that it rocked the boat back and forth. Everyone started to feel nauseous. One girl threw up over the side of the boat, causing another one to do the same. Little fishies rose to the top to eat their new meal. Being in the water felt same as we floated on the choppy waters. One girl barfed in the water she was swimming in. My friend and I swam to a cove and dry heaved for a while. Snorkeling in Mediterranean is not as glamorous as it sounds.


Falling off my bike in Barcelona

After my Spanish course ended in Granada, Spain, a group of girls from the program and I took a 12 hour bus ride to Barcelona. There we rented a cheap hostel. The first two days we had seen all the great tourist attractions that Barcelona had to offer. On the third day, we wanted to take it easy and relax. We rented bikes close to the beach and biked the streets of Barcelona. Despite being hesitant from my last experience with bike tours, I was feeling more confident. We biked a long strip of sidewalk that ran parallel to the beach on the Mediterranean. So distracted by the beauty, my bike wheel hit a patch of uneven pavement and flipped over my handlebars, falling on my knees. I was wearing a flowy skirt (I had packed no shorts) so my skinned knee wasn’t as damaged as it could have been. I had a nasty bruise that was 4 different colors, but I had to get back on my bike and keep on going. When returning the rented bikes, the owner complained about the bent handlebar. I told him how I was very injured and it was a shame he didn’t have us sign any waivers or releases. Suddenly, he didn’t have a problem with the damaged bike. At least my bruises couldn’t be shown because I had to cover up in Morocco the next week.


Sun poisoning in Bimini 

I wanted some sun and a tan in the middle of winter while I was in Miami. My friend and I spent the whole day at the beach and I forgot to reapply sunscreen. That was a terrible idea. That night, I started feeling the affects of sun poisoning. My skin hurt, I had a migraine, and I felt sick to my stomach. My friend kindly bought me ibuprofen, aloe lotion, and more sunscreen while I was stuck in the hotel room. Later she found me hunched over the toilet. The next morning, we woke at 6 am to take a 7 am boat to Bimini, Bahamas. I was feeling much better, but I had to cover up and not expose that much skin.


Despite being sick and injured, the places I had the opportunity to see around the world are beautiful. They make up for my spells of bad luck. These experiences also give me funny stories to tell so I don’t regret any of them.


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