The five stages of Manchester Freshers’ Flu

…and how to get over it


Your friends who are already at uni have warned you that Freshers’ Flu is inevitable. There is no way of getting around it but yet you feel like you might just be the exception to the rule.

What’s that? Oh no! Freshers’ Week is nearing the end and Mr Invincible is now sat in his room snivelling into a loo roll and texting in the group chat for someone to bring him his chicken cup-a-soup. Alas, unless a rather strange series of circumstances has taken place and your flatmate happens to be your own mother, chances of said soup being brought to you are low.

Lo and behold! The perfect article to tell you exactly what to do next! Skip to stage three for real help or if you want to be reminded of how the week has already gone (and regret the naiveté of innocent fresher you) read on.

Stage one: Denial

It’s the first night out. You’ve been waiting for this for years – Freshers’ Week, the pinnacle of student partying. You’ve never heard of it before, but Playground sounds like a fun club so you head there, jacket-less (its 6 degrees outside), and prepare for a totally epic night. You’re on top of the world with your future ahead of you.

You either spend the night dancing with your flat (a sign of the great friends you are sure to become) or on the pull. Either way, after two hours of pretending to love the rhythmic beats, you head home, body lined with enough jagerbombs to prevent the cold air setting in.

In the morning you feel worse than you ever have before in your whole life ever, or so you keep reminding your flatmates. One flatmate reassures you its the rumoured “hangover” but you’re just not used to it (you will soon tell whose parents had them locked up at home until a UCAS letter came through the door). Nothing a banana won’t fix.

Stage two: Anger

Two days post first-club. You’ve been out since, but both times remembered to bring your jacket and keep your mouth to yourself.

You’re minding your business concocting a stir fry when your flatmate walks in. You turn. A rapid zoom into your flatmates face. Rosy cheeks and watery eyes. Perhaps they’re just an Austen doe-eyed beauty? What’s that? The bubble is burst when you see them start to sniff vigorously and cough into the sleeve of their jumper.

What’s wrong? You ask, taking a precautionary step backwards. They snivel and inform you of their flu-ridden status while you try to keep your cool. How dare they come into a shared kitchen while sick? Haven’t they heard of Covid? You scuttle out of the room, offering sympathetic comments on your way. You proceed to phone your Mum to rant about the utter selfishness of others, has your flatmate got no regard for YOUR wellbeing?

*four hours later* you notice you’re struggling to breathe out of your nose.

Stage three: Bargaining

Is that a headache or am I just tired? Better be on the safe side so you pop a few ibuprofen. A quick trip to big Sainos will have me sorted in no time.

You return with Strepsils your Mum transferred you the money for and some cold and flu tablets… just in case. A brief scroll of a handy Tab article tells you that alternative remedies for Freshers’ Flu include the tried and tested:

Turmeric and milk – 2/5

Add turmeric to milk and warm up and drink. Controversial, supposedly increases mucus which is supposedly good, doesn’t really work.

Eating lots of garlic – 3/5

Won’t cure anything but will give you prime opportunity to eat lots of garlicky goodness.

Eating healthily – 4/5

Probably the best prevention rather than cure, you’ll feel better mentally even if not physically.

Drink lots of water – 4/5

Sorry to be a bore but your parents are right – water solves everything.

Sleep – 5/5

Sleeping people can’t feel pain and illness. I think.

Don’t smoke (or vape?) – 3/5

If your priority when sick is to head to New Zealand Wines and buy an Elf Bar you deserve to be sick.

Bowl of Vaporub – 5/5

Spoonful of Vaporub in bowl of boiling water, head above water, tea towel over head and breathe in herby steam. If your Mum never did this for you, call Childline. Vaporub is a miracle worker, trust us.

Stage four: Depression

All the symptoms have set in now. You can hardly move from your bed and so you lie around watching Netflix and feeling sorry for yourself. You haven’t spoken to a fellow human in days as your room has been taped off as a bio-hazard. You may be happy surviving off of the chocolate brioches you kept under your bed for emergencies but you’ve lost all hope for the future.

You miss the days when you could breathe out of all respiratory holes and when you weren’t perpetually cold, surrounded by snotty tissues. For god’s sakes why did I take my old life for granted. Nothing will ever be good again.

Stage five: Acceptance

A few days later and you can stand up again. One kind flatmate left some fruit outside your door everyday so you decide to thank them for the gesture with a surprise entrance into their room and a big hug.

You’ve come to terms with the fact your voice will be croaky for the next two weeks but little do you know the only mythical element of Freshers’ Flu is that it happens once. Prepare for this cycle to repeat every two months for the next three years of your life. You’re going to get through it though, we promise.

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