Ten tips to help students with chronic illness survive university


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No one can deny the fact that university is a whole new adventure. It is like the stage between your teenage self and becoming an adult.

You have a glimpse of what it is like to be free, to have that freedom you have always craved since secondary school.

The freedom might feel like something good to you (wait until you get there) but one thing that never make sense is the high level of stress in Nigerian universities.

The stress is a major disadvantage for students like me living with a chronic illness especially sickle cell. One of the triggers of sickle cell crisis is stress.

During my first in university, I went through so much stress that during exams, I spent six days in the hospital.

After I was discharged, things got worse and my grade was not what I expected but I learnt a lot of lessons and I survived until this point.

If you are a student like me living with a chronic illness, I have some tips that will help you survive university. You would find these tips useful no matter the university you attend. And please share it after reading.

Tips to help student survive university

Here are ten tips to survive university with chronic illness

1. Consider getting an accommodation

This is one thing you should do first before resuming school. It will save you the stress of jumping buses to attend classes. Although I do not recommend you getting school hostel. You might regret it.

I do not recommend it because in a school hostel, everyone is in there for himself. No one will help you do things when you can’t.

I suggest you get an accommodation close to school with a friend that knows you well and can help you.

2. Consider your course of study

Have you done your research on the course you want to study? Some courses are more stressful than others.

Seek people who have been there, ask them about the course. Read about it online.

A stressful course can get you bad grades if you are not careful. Having said that, I should also add that if the course is really what you want, then go for it and keep reading for more tips.

3. Plan your time effectively

What you do with your time is important. Make sure you make good use of it. Rest when you are supposed to, read and have fun too.

You are the only one that can plan your time, so sit down and plan it.

4. Learn to forgive yourself

To be honest, there will be days when you won’t do what you planned. There will be days when you won’t be able to attend lectures.

You need to accept that and forgive yourself so you can move on. Don’t beat yourself up for missing tests or exams, it can be frustrating but you are different so don’t beat yourself.

5. Make friends

Living with a chronic illness in the university can be isolating. You might be tempted to want to be alone or do it alone. Don’t fall for it.

You can’t survive alone, not in university, not in this world. Find friends that have compassion and can help you academically as well as morally.

You would need loads of their support. I made the mistake of trying to do it alone. I did everything alone but it later affected my health and grade.

Don’t make the same mistake, make friends as soon as possible yet be wise in choosing your friends.

6. Don’t push yourself too far

Learn when to stop pushing. Before I began to find myself and my voice, I can count the number of times I had to stand in the laboratory because my mates were standing.

I didn’t want to be the only one sitting yet my back aches and my legs weak. Please don’t be like that me. If you cannot keep up anymore, don’t push yourself.

If you are too tired to attend lecture, take that rest. But you should as well try to make it up when you are well.

7. Eat well

I know what you’re thinking, how can you eat well on your student budget? I asked myself that question as well.

Until I discovered that it is really simple and inexpensive.

Some tips that will help you

  • Avoid junks

It is very easy to get junks in school, a quick fix to help you go through class. Avoid it, there’s nothing healthy in them.

  • Eat at least one fruit a day

Find inexpensive and seasonal fruits. They will serve you better than junks. A fruit a day is a start in your healthy eating journey.

  • Drink water

In university, you are likely to move from one class to another. You spend hours in a class which will keep you dehydrated.

Always keep a bottle of water close so that you can stay hydrated.

8. Try to avoid triggers

Like I said earlier, the university is where you become an adult. It is the stage you learn and respect your triggers.

And once you understand what triggers, avoid it. One trigger I discovered by myself is heat and stress. When the hostel is too hot, you will find me outside where I can get fresh air.

9. Avoid alcohol and other hazardous habits

Don’t let the freedom in university life get into you. Don’t engage in any thing that will harm your health.

Avoid alcohol, smoking, unprotected sex and any other thing that will affect your health negatively.

10. Use your medications regularly

You would rarely find someone remind you to take your medication like they do at home. It is your responsibility now to remind yourself.

Your medications are important, really important.



I hope these tips help you survive university. But you should also keep in mind that you live with an unpredictable illness.

So, don’t joke with your body. Visit the medical center as soon as you feel any change in your health.

Also prepare yourself for new diagnoses. You might get one, don’t let it affect you too much.

Finally, don’t compare yourself with others. You are different and that might mean graduating later than your mates just like me.

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Let me know if any of these tips were helpful in the comment. Don’t forget to use the share button on the left side of your screen. Help someone.

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