In all the excitement from going to school in a foreign country, to travelling my way through Southeast Asia, it sure is hard to complain when I think about how fortunate, thankful and lucky I have truly been. That being said, while I do now see Singapore as my home, there are times when I wish I was back at home in Toronto in my own bed, with my friends and family around me. Why this thought has been coming back over the past two weeks is because of two very unfortunate words: Food. Poisoning.
Yep, it totally happened… and to put it in the nicest way possible, it SUCKED. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that I’ve never had food poisoning before this, and I never want to experience it ever again. I’ve always heard of people or friends who had it and I would simply hope they got better soon, without much thought. But it’s true when they say you don’t know what something is like until you’ve experienced it. Because MAN OH MAN, the next time someone tells me they have food poisoning, I think I’ll drop everything to go buy them a soup or Gatorade or something to help relieve their pain. So, learning lesson #1, food poisoning is not a joke.
How it actually happened is still beyond me. My friend Katie & I had returned from Cambodia about 2 weeks ago. The day we got back, we were completely fine. In fact, the last thing I remember eating was my dinner: a giant, delicious salad at a well-known shop in Singapore on our way back from the airport. Well, the next morning I woke up and tried to get out of bed: NO. WAY. I’ve never had such a bad headache, nausea and felt so weak all at the same time in my life. I couldn’t attend my classes for the day because I was too weak, I had no appetite and I literally stayed in bed all day (I used to think a day of sleeping could be fun, but I honestly got so tired of sleeping, as weird as that sounds). It was helpful to have my roommate, Aliah, around to check-up on my and make sure I was okay. But in terms of food, I ate nothing but some crackers and Singapore’s version of Gatorade, known as “100 Plus”. I also recall at some point falling asleep while cuddling a slice of plain bread… because after taking one bite, I felt sick and tired and didn’t have the energy to finish it all.
The next morning, I was a bit better, enough to make my way to the campus doctor. I explained my situation, got some medication and hoped for the best. I was told to drink clear liquids, eat rice and plain foods. By the third day, let me tell you, I never wanted to see another bowl of rice in my life. All I could think of was a bowl of Tim Horton’s Chicken Noodle Soup. And I knew that it was never going to arrive, sadly 🙁 So it was just rest, medicine, simple foods, sleep; repeat.
Fast forward two weeks later and I’m almost back to new! I ended up getting the flu on top of my food poisoning, as well as a sinus infection that I’m just finally recovering from. Now, I in no way want to turn this into a pity party. As much as being sick for two weeks sucked and messed with my travel plans, I really believe every situation is a blessing in disguise.
While being on exchange appears as all fun and glamour to those on the outside, there definitely are these moments of being sick or sad or having a downfall. Among it all, I think the most important learning lesson is not to let it get to you. If you let something get inside your head and bother you, it stops you from seeing the bigger picture. Getting sick has allowed me to have a greater appreciation for little things. Things like being able to eat all sorts of foods without feeling sick, living in a place (both Singapore and Toronto) where we have been so fortunate to have clean drinking water everywhere we go. I think the food poisoning could have come from Cambodia’s water (as I did mindlessly drink some unfiltered water while brushing my teeth). But to be honest, I won’t ever really have an answer. And you know what, that’s okay. I think it’s also been a good lesson to be more aware of what I’m putting in my body. To be conscious of my health and learn that rest is good. I always have the itch to travel while I have the chance, but, sometimes, I don’t have to be travelling somewhere just because everyone else is. It’s important to listen to my body, my heart, and realize that proper rest is essential, especially while constantly being on-the-go.
On the plus side, I would like to crown myself the PRO of swallowing medicine pills (no kidding, I had a fear of choking on pills and have only swallowed one tiny baby pill in my life before coming to Singapore). I’m glad to be almost recovered so I can get back into my regular routine. But, I know that this experience will make me even more excited for my next travel adventure abroad!
After I was able to eat proper foods again, I decided it was time to treat myself to some delicious food. So, Katie and I headed to an organic cafe not too far from school for brunch and let me tell you … the food was AH-MAZING.
Stay tuned for more adventure and remember to always stay positive, rest well and listen to your body. Sometimes, a little change of perspective is all we really need to alter our outlook and appreciate what we have.