The Five Stages of Freshers’ Flu

The inevitable Decline and Fall

Those older and wiser than you (i.e. your college parents) have warned you it's inevitable, yet somehow you’re convinced that you’re the one invincible fresher who can avoid the creeping sore throat, heavy eyes and general lower quality of health that hits you harder than a crazed cyclist on King's Parade.

Before you know it, you’ll be in a stuffy supervision room at the tail end of your paracetamol, fighting to keep your eyes open and faking enthusiasm for French medieval poetry. This is freshers' flu: Cambridge Edition. Don’t try to pretend it didn’t get you.

Oh no, it's you.

Oh no, it's you.

It all begins at Stage 1: ignorance, where with naïve confidence you make your debut into the glamour and sophistication that is Cambridge nightlife, wearing somewhat inappropriate clothing for the temperature.

Bonus points for loosing your sheer "jacket" in Lola’s and walking home oblivious to the freezing cold (jaeger bombs, while not essential, will greatly facilitate this step). Convince yourself it's nothing a run, some coffee and a balanced breakfast the next morning can't fix. As dawn dawns this plan proves rather ambitious.

Learn from your mistakes and borrow a jumper.

Learn from your mistakes and borrow a jumper.

The next morning, a review of the variety of liver destroying substances you put into your body the night before, leads you to briefly reconsidering your life choices, before deciding to be strong. It's nothing a pear (or an apple, we don't discriminate) won't fix. Whatever fruit your mum packed you, that tiny amount of vitamins will make you feel like the definition of health.

You have now reached Stage 2: a false sense of hope. Your body is a temple; of course you’re going to look after it. That is, until Fresher’s Fair Dominoes lures you back. Maybe make a trip to Sainsbury’s for the sensible purchase of tangerines, and decide to "take it easy" on the drinking.

Stage 3: denial, is obvious when your entire staircase starts popping ibuprofen (which has quickly replaced the tangerines) and you’re still confidently claiming you feel better than ever. Denial will come back to bite you on the butt the next morning, when your voice resembles that of a 60 year old man who has committed himself to chain smoking for a solid two thirds of his life. Admit defeat and accept that a trip to the college shop for some soothers is appropriate right about now.

#sexy

#sexy

You’ll swallow your pride in Stage 4: acceptance and ask your medic friends (useful!) for their lemsip. Apparently the pack of 100 paracetamol tablets your grandma packed you off with will not resolve anything (at least they’re guaranteed to get more use than the miniature sewing kit).

Now literally swallow your pride and down that lovely lemony relief. At this point, you may want to invest some time in concealing your darkening eye bags. Despite your best efforts, the matriculation photo will inevitably send a shiver down your spine as you look into your own hollow eyes staring down from mum's framed photo for years to come.

Your new best friend: Lemsip.

Your new best friend: Lemsip.

If you’ve made it to Stage 5: embracement, odds are you’ll have to accept that your voice will remain raspy for the rest of term, and potentially your entire Cambridge career. Given you lasted a mere 2 days before the flu hit, welcome the croaky voice (no one remembers what it used to sound like at this point; this sexy new persona is part of your Cambridge transformation). So just appreciate the sophistication it lends to your French accent. You win some you lose some.

If you really want to stretch yourself (as all overachieving Cambridge students should), reach bonus round 6 by incessantly bringing up your fresher’s flu to make sure everyone knows how wild your week has been. As useful as it is as small talk, there’s only so many times you can share a knowing laugh about your sore throat before it starts to get old. Really, we all know Cindies was just a background feature to library inductions, DoS meetings and sitting in your room trying to figure out the Timetable website that is apparently SO simple. Now that you’ve made it to Week 1, you’ve got bigger things to worry about than fresher’s flu. From here on in, it's just called exhaustion.

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