Getting Sick Abroad

Like many students, I had the unfortunate experience of getting sick while I was studying abroad. I think I actually ended up being sick on and off for a full two months out of my four month trip, and worse yet, it is impossible to find cough medicine anywhere in Denmark! Apparently they are a little less drug-happy than Americans, but man, I never thought I would miss NyQuil so much! Of course I did not let my illness stand in the way of having a fantastic trip, but needless to say, I eventually had to go to the doctor to figure out what was wrong. As it turns out, my very long cold had just turned into an infection, so the doctor simply gave me antibiotics and I was good to go. But getting to the doctor in the first place was the tricky part.

Despite studying in Copenhagen, I did not actually live in Copenhagen, but rather a smaller city that was a 45-minute train ride away. Therefore, I had to go to a doctor’s office within my own city, not in Copenhagen. This took some work to find. Thankfully I was able to talk to the front desk at my school to get some general directions, and then I used a Danish directions website to help find the exact place.Image

Thanks to the Danish welfare system, I actually did not need to pay anything for my appointment. The doctor’s office was near the train station, so I was able to find it fairly easily. Once I was inside, it was very chaotic, but I went and gave my residency card to the front desk, which basically put myself in line to talk to a doctor. (For whatever reason, getting a real doctor’s appointment in Denmark (or at least at my specific doctor’s office) must be planned weeks if not months in advance. Everyone else just comes in to the doctor’s office during two hours of walk-in hours that are held every weekday morning).

At my first visit to the doctor’s office, I did not adequately plan for the waiting period. I ended up waiting at least an hour for my appointment, but had brought no form of entertainment and could not read the Danish magazines they had out, so I simply people watched until my turn. Finally, my turn. And thankfully, the doctor spoke pretty fluent English. He gave me a prescription for antibiotics, which I picked up at the pharmacy (Apotek) on my way home. I came in again one week later to make sure that my throat infection was clearing up, and had the sense to bring a book with me (to this day, I still associate Franny and Zooey with the doctor’s office waiting room in Denmark.)  Thankfully my cold finally cleared up and I was able to stay healthy for the remainder of my trip.

My recommendation to future students: if you get sick, go to the doctor. I wish I had gone sooner and maybe I wouldn’t have gotten so sick. But also see if your school has any advise about going to the doctor, and check in advance to see how much it will cost you. It is great that the Danish welfare system made it so that I did not need to pay a cent for my appointment (though I did pay for my medication), making sure that your body is healthy is usually worth the cost.

-Rosa Calabrese, DU Study Abroad Peer Advisor

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