Of course, bad days and bad weeks happen regardless of where you are. Being here in England for nine months, I figured eventually I would have an unlucky week somewhere in between all the new, amazing experiences and fun. Last week was a bad week, and being abroad while encountering it just complicated all the troubles.
At the beginning of the week I misplaced my wallet. Thinking it was possibly stolen, I cancelled my debit cards, just as I would have at home. Fortunately, later in the day I recovered my wallet because a lovely person handed it into a front desk at the University. Insurance cards, driver’s license, and student card were all now back in my possession; however, those cards in there were now useless. I realized I would have no money until my new cards were sent to my home address and then shipped from America to my U.K. address! I borrowed a little bit of money from some friends, but it was still stressful making do on next to nothing for so long.
Planned hurdles of that week included finishing three assignments for my classes, two of which were significantly weighted essays. Mid-week essay writing was in full swing, but something kept slowing me down. My one leg and arm were insanely itchy! Never have I had I experienced itchiness like this. I was unable to focus on my writing for more than a few minutes before I would have to pause to scratch.
Soon after I gave up on essay writing for the night, I discovered the itchiness was coming from a handful of red, welt-like bumps. Calling and consulting a triage nurse left me with the information that I was having an allergic reaction to either spider or bed bug bites. After another night of sleeping in my bug-infested room, I woke with even more itchy, swollen bites. It was time to take action.
I contacted UEA’s pest control service explaining the situation and within the same day, a man came to my flat with a pest control kit in hand. After searching high and low he did not find anything. Just as he was explaining how he cannot treat any issue unless there is evidence, I saw a brown spot moving up the wall behind him! AHHH! EW!
He grabbed the little bugger and confirmed that. yes, it was a bed bug. In order to properly rid my room of the pests they are spraying my room on three separate occasions. Each time I have to bag up all my belongings so they can be moved out of the room. Ever since the first treatment, thankfully, I have been bite free!
Bed bugs, papers, a lost wallet, and no money would have been bad enough back home, but having these problems thousands of miles away from home was even tougher. These experiences, although they were such a headache, taught me important lessons about traveling and studying abroad.
- Always keep a back-up stash of emergency money, separate from your main wallet/purse.
- Never carry your passport around with you, unless it is absolutely necessary. Thankfully, it was separate from my wallet when I lost it, but the situation would have been much worse if my passport were lost too.
- While staying in hotels and hostels, do not keep your bags on the floor. Bags on the floor make it easier for pests to latch on and come home with you.
- Remain calm, even though a situation may seem to be a gargantuan mess. Eventually, everything will be worked out and you will be okay!
The last point was crucial to my sanity and being able to finish my schoolwork while I was near penniless and battling the bugs. Getting through that week was tough, but I am now being rewarded with my university’s three-week spring break! Traveling and relaxing will be even more appreciated now that I conquered these troubles and learned important lessons.