At Columbia University, medical services are offered either on the phone or onsite. When you decide to visit the health center in person, you can schedule an appointment from the website in advance or go on a walk-in basis. Dizzy as I was, I resorted to the latter method. After filling out a form and handing it to the staff, I was put in a lounge area and waited for an assigned nurse to give a preliminary inspection. After visiting with a nurse, a doctor will be called out depends on how severe the patient’s symptoms are. Since I had a fever, the doctor came and offered mandatory flu tests and optional medication.
Unique in the United States is that medicines and other suggested treatments can only be received by patients voluntarily without any coercion. To put it another way, informed consent here is a crucial premise for any further action.
After inquiring to the 24/7 Columbia medical emergency counselor, I managed to get to the nearest emergency room because of uncontrollable body temperature during the night. There I went through similar processes and was finally taken to a room for temporary isolation. The room I stayed in was equipped with a bed, basic medical equipment, and intense lighting; it was designed to have a slightly lower atmospheric pressure in case of the spread of contagious factors.
All is not lost; I was finally exempted from this torture by the test results confirming that what I had was just the flu and nothing else.
After experiencing all this, my suggestion would be to take the free flu shots as early as possible once you begin your journey of studying abroad.
Always keep hand sanitizers and masks at hand to prevent your direct exposure to unknown viruses. Take care of yourself, especially be aware of the dramatic in-and-out temperature change. Make sure you have thick overcoats to survive the strongest wind I have ever encountered in the winters of New York City.
I would like to thank all the people who have either physically or mentally helped me during my illness. Remember, we are not alone, even in a country that you once didn’t know at all.