Freshers Flu Anyone?


A RECIPE for ill-health’ is how the Guardian has described University life. The latest dig at students suggests once starting they are at risk of catching everything from the infamous Fresher’s Flu to Chlamydia.
            The article which put late nights, poor diet and alcohol to blame for students deteriorating health is quite frankly stating the obvious. Of course wild 18 year olds who have just left home for the first time aren’t going to be rushing down to the local Farmers Market to stock up on carrots and runner beans. They’re going to be heading to Asda, searching for the best deal on beer and cheapest bottle of vodka.
It is pretty rare to find a student who relishes 9am starts, and rarer still to find one who does not struggle to get out of bed half an hour before a lecture. It is just as unusual to find a lecture hall full. Most students comatose way past their alarms, or if they have managed to force themselves out of halls, you tend to find them slumped in the corner, in a zombie like state appearing to be dying after a night out which only ended s few hours earlier. But that’s because we can be reckless. We can stay out until McDonald’s starts serving its Breakfast menu because we have no responsibility, nobody to look after apart from ourselves. When are we going to get this time again, to be completely and irrevocably selfish?
It does seem fair to argue that the university lifestyle does not exactly appear to be conducive to perfect health. For one thing, the average student’s alcohol consumption is higher than that of non-students of the same age. A BMC report on public health has shown that within the UK, 52 per cent of male and 43 per cent of female undergraduates report drinking above the recommended weekly limits of 21 units and 14 units respectively, a significantly higher proportion than amongst 16-24 year olds in the general population. All those late nights down the Student Union probably aren’t the best thing for our health, but we weren’t born yesterday, we know that already thanks Guardian.
Many of us students do not spend a huge amount of time thinking about or spending money on our nutrition. We skip breakfast to get those extra ten minutes in bed instead opting for an easy ‘grab and go’ coffee to wake us up. We eat processed junk food purely because it’s cheap and so easy to make now we don’t have Mum and Dad as our personal chefs. Quite often things like fresh fruit, vegetables and meat are an afterthought as they are usually too expensive. I have on many occasions bought one of those Tesco Value ready-made microwavable cottage pies for an astonishing 79 pence. Reading the back of the packaging, I am horrified by the salt content but it still doesn’t seem to put me off throwing it into the trolley and deciding that the money that could have easily gone on fresh ingredients would be better used towards a night out.
As inhabitants of shared accommodation, whether you end up in halls or private accommodation, the flat will always be freezing. So at least one of our flatmates is usually battling a bout of flu, steadily munching their way through multiple packets of Soothers and hugging hot-water bottles in a somewhat futile attempt to stay warm. This is of course not to mention the fact that we have suddenly arrived at that time of semester when dozens of monstrous deadlines spontaneously appear, sending the average student’s sleep pattern plummeting into oblivion and their stress levels through the poorly insulated roof.

So does this mean that once we start University we are prescribed to three years of bad health, stress and viruses? Think of your time as more of a concoction of experience, learning and fun.
And the vodka? Everything is best in moderation.

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