Of Herbal Remedies and Travel Plans

Apparently exam week has just become code for “Hey, now seems like a good time for you to get sick.”

Unexpectedly, and rather inconveniently, I fell prey to some sort of delightful stomach bug, followed by a classic cold, which I simply did NOT have time for.  Between classes, exams, and upcoming plans (more on that below), this just wasn’t the time.  On top of that, our phone isn’t working (again) and we have no access to our bank account without our phone (of course).  Thank you, Turkey.

One thing I have learned quickly is that being sick abroad is the absolute worst.  When you are sick, you crave comfort – comfort that usually comes in the form of your go-to remedies; you know, the ones you  grew up with.  Because healthcare and medicine is something that tends to vary A LOT from place to place, your entire frame of reference for what to do when you get sick pretty much has to be thrown out the window.

Surely they sell medicine at the grocery store….  WRONG.

Do they have Pepto Bismol here?  NOPE

Some 7-Up and saltine crackers would really help right now…  WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?

I think you get the point.

I realized when I got sick in Amsterdam that I had NO CLUE how to navigate healthcare outside of my limited experience in the States.  Luckily, theirs was pretty easy.  As for Turkey… well, I just really hope I don’t get sick enough to need serious medical intervention because I have a feeling that it would be a headache and a half to deal with that situation.

The funny thing about Turkey, especially for someone coming from the land of Big Pharma, is that a lot of Turks seem to fear Western Medicine.  Several of the Turkish people that I’ve spoken with about healthcare do not really believe in taking medicine  and would never want to be operated on, even in a case of emergency.  Now I’m certain this doesn’t apply to everyone in the country because they have many medications available here, but there seems to be a lot more distrust of it than there is back home.

My instinct was to hunt down my usual remedies, which of course, was impossible. Luckily for me, one of my co-workers kindly offered me a  handful of fresh mint when she heard I wasn’t feeling well.  She advised me to boil it in water with some honey and lemon juice and then drink it.  I figured I had nothing to lose, seeing as I’d already lost pretty much all of the contents in my stomach already, so I decided to give it a go and was pleasantly surprised that it did make me feel a bit better after awhile.  I actually thought it was kind of cool; I envisioned myself in a Hogwarts potions class while I was making it.

As for the more interesting part of this post (not that my stomach woes aren’t interesting), my husband and I are currently planning a two week trip through Central Europe, which is only a week away now!  At the moment, it looks like our itinerary will include Budapest, Ezstergom-Sturovo, Prague, Brno, and Vienna, but we left a little wiggle room in case something comes up.  This will be our first longer trip and also the first trip that includes so many countries at once.  We are also hoping to only take a backpack each, which will be a challenge for me since I generally over-pack and also love bringing back souvenirs when I travel.  So to anyone out there reading this:   What do you recommend to do, see, or eat in any of these cities?  Any tips for packing light during the winter months?  Anywhere else in the area we should add to our itinerary?  Also, how do you cope with being sick abroad?

Any advice is much appreciated!

2 thoughts on “Of Herbal Remedies and Travel Plans

  1. I’m so sorry you’re sick! It’s hard to be sick far away from home! I got sick a lot in China, and it sounds like China’s views on Western medicine or self-medicating come pretty close to Turkey’s. At first I tried to find the Asian equivalent of American comfort food, but that didn’t work — so I ended up embracing their comfort food (hot water, Mapo Tofu, simple noodle soup). It was hard at first, but by the end I started craving their comfort food when I got sick. I still do sometimes!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have been sick here a lot as well! It must be because you’re exposed to so many new germs when you move abroad…I feel like my body just can’t get used to it or something. I have been drinking a lot of hot water and boiled mint tea and eating oranges and soup. That’s about as close as it gets to comfort food here! Like you said, I’m sure I’ll get used to it before too long.


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