The Silly Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Silly Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Silly Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

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Is The “Freshman Flu” Real?

As students return to campus, the risk of illnesses spreading increases especially among first-years
In+the+excitement+of+starting+college%2C+first-years+often+find+themselves+facing+an+onslaught+of+illness.
AURELIEN CLAVAUD
In the excitement of starting college, first-years often find themselves facing an onslaught of illness.

The start of the semester is characterized by a highly social, excited environment in which students are constantly in contact with one another. This is especially true for incoming first-year students, as they begin to make friends, adjust to their new campus and create lasting experiences to remember their first few weeks at their university. Some students, however, find themselves taking a trip to a recent student hotspot: university health services (UHS). 

“Freshman flu” is a term used across universities to define the trend of illnesses contracted by first-years within their first few weeks at college. While there are no major research publications that have studied the “freshman flu,” symptoms of the sickness have had consistency in their description: sore throat, runny nose, cough, headache or fever, nausea, and fatigue. 

According to College Cures, an online publication and resource for college advice and tips, the “freshman flu” is likely caused by an influx of individuals being introduced to a new environment, or new pathogens. The flu or the cold have an easier time spreading when individuals are living in enclosed spaces, which makes the “freshman flu’s” ability to spread in the first few weeks of the semester unavoidable.   

But, does the “freshman flu” at Fordham really exist? Yes and no. While students may  experience symptoms such as runny noses, sore throats and headaches more often than usual when entering college, especially at the start of the school year, the reasons for this vary. 

Maureen Keown, director of UHS at Fordham, noted that, more often than not, the rise in colds, viruses and other illnesses is a result of people adjusting to a new environment. She highlighted that “students who find themselves living in dorms for the first time may find their immune systems put to the test.” 

International students in particular may also find it hard to adapt to New York City’s odd weather patterns. “Students are ill due to not getting enough rest and the recent increased stress levels,” Keown emphasized. 

Maureen Keown, director of UHS at Fordham, noted that, more often than not, the rise in colds, viruses and other illnesses is a result of people adjusting to a new environment.

As assignments begin accumulating and sleep schedules become irregular, Keown highlighted that students’ lack of proper nutrition and poor dietary habits bring on additional stress and further instability to their immune systems. 

Regardless of whether students have already experienced illness while at Fordham or if they have been lucky enough to go sickness-free, Keown advised that “all students should maintain a healthy diet, limit stress, exercise, get enough sleep, and take time for themselves each day to do something that relieves stress and makes them happy.”

The director of UHS also highlighted the importance of proper hand washing habits, as bacteria may be transferred from dining hall tables and classroom door handles. She recommended that students use the hallway hand sanitizers located throughout the university’s campuses more frequently. 

“All the factors mentioned above will help support a healthy immune system and help fight off infections and illness,” Keown said.

To maintain a healthy community, students who feel unwell are advised to immediately contact UHS for an appointment. The UHS team has a list of urgent care offices and a virtual urgent care option on the Fordham website under the Health Services and Center tab. 

“UHS is open to all students on campus and commuters regardless of the type of health insurance they hold, as well as non-members of the student health insurance plan,” Keown said. 

Should you contract the “freshman flu,” College Cures advises students to drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated as well as receiving plenty of rest.

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About the Contributors
SOFIA STRELNIKOVA, Assistant Social Media Editor
Sofia Strelnikova (she/her), FCLC ‘27, is an assistant social media editor for The Observer. She is majoring in communications and culture. Despite being Slavic, Sofia has lived in China her whole life, so Mandarin is practically her first language.
AURELIEN CLAVAUD, Assistant Sports & Health Editor
Aurelien Clavaud (he/him), FCLC ’25, is an assistant sports & health editor at The Observer. He previously served as head photo editor and creative director. He majors in international political economy and loves photography, basketball and writing. He is from Houston, Texas, but has taken a liking to NYC and its frigid weather.

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