Beating the “Bali Belly”

Over the course of the last eight weeks, I have experienced days of varying difficulty, causing me to always have to be ready to face whatever challenge materialized. While the greatest challenge thus far has been coping with the issues regarding COVID-19, the reason I am writing this post back in the United States, there were still many other issues that presented themselves over the semester that required a level of adaptability and positivity to overcome.

For Spring Break, a group of friends and I decided to travel to Bali, Indonesia. The island showcased some of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen. Yet, being a developing country, a serious issue was the poor water quality that we had to be certain not to consume throughout the week. While many of my friends were lucky, I was unfortunately met with what they call “Bali Belly.” Yet, my symptoms only lasted a day and in no time I was back in Sydney and attending classes and my internship. About a week later, however, my symptoms recurred, and this time to a much graver scale. I was unable to eat, drink, or get out of bed for over two full days. Being in a country where I was not familiar with the healthcare system on top of having daily responsibilities, I was dealing with a major problem.

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Luckily I remembered Pitt’s travel insurance. By calling the number on the card I was given during orientation, I was put on the phone with an American nurse who was very helpful in talking me through my symptoms and then deciding that I needed to see a local doctor. She set up the appointment for me, so all I needed to do was get to the office downtown. While I was extremely weak, I felt the healthcare system was amazing and I didn’t have to wait long at all to be seen by a medical professional and given the appropriate antibiotics to relieve my symptoms. 

In terms of working around my schedule of work and classes, I found that everyone, including my coworkers and professors, was very understanding of my situation. My doctor gave me an excuse note saying that I needed to stay in bed for the rest of the week but I was able to adapt and even work remotely to stay on top of my assignments and projects. Although I felt I was missing out on valuable time, my health was my priority, and soon enough, I was able to get back to my regular routine. For other students who may face an illness while abroad, the best advice would be to reach out for support and know that you are not alone. I did not want to be a burden to anyone, but once my roommates found out, they were so caring and were able to go shopping for me to get crackers and soda. The International SOS line was also extremely helpful and is something Pitt students are fortunate enough to have as a resource, so use it! You should understand that although some things are out of your control, you can acknowledge your frustration, and then manipulate your emotions to remain positive and accommodating through any situation. When I was healthy again, it made me realize I need to make the most out of every moment, and that mindset made all the difference.