Sunday, July 24, 2011

I'm Always Sick in Japan

Is it easier for a foreigner to get sick while living in Japan? I suppose there are a lot of factors. Where do you work? Are you a teacher? If so, what age groups are you dealing with? Are there allergens in the air that you might not have to contend with in your native country? What are the pollution levels like where you live? Do you take care of your own health?

I think about this a lot because of the fact that in the past few years, since coming to Japan, I have been constantly sick. I am really tired of it, literally and figuratively.

I suppose I can point the finger of blame in many directions. I can also probably point it at myself.

First of all, I am a teacher. I am in direct contact with a large number of children everyday. That’s nothing new though. I’ve been a teacher for about ten years now and have worked with thousands of kids, but have never been so consistently under the weather. A factor may be their age. I have been teaching very young children who have yet to fully develop their immune systems. That means they are sick a lot more than their older counterparts. Long story short, there are a lot more sick little boys and girls hacking and sneezing away in my presence.

In 2002, when I first moved to Asia to teach, I had a job at a kindergarten in Korea. Most new teachers, including myself were sick for most of our first year there. Many veteran teachers referred to it as the “Korean Cruds” and said most new people to the country got it. Basically, due to environmental reasons as well as new food, illnesses, etc., newbie’s were sick a lot!

I think geography has a lot to do with being sick a lot as well. With living far away from where you grew up, you are now being introduced to an entire new set of viruses and illnesses. For example, right now, there is something called “hand, mouth, foot disease” (it’s not very serious) sweeping through kindergartens and day cares in Hyogo Prefecture where I live. Even my son had it last week. It is an illness that is rare and almost unheard of in Canada and America, while quite common here in Japan.

Now I’ll turn my finger of blame towards myself. I simply do too much and don’t rest enough. I work six days a week, run, blog, video blog, am writing a book and of course am married and have a one year old son. I honestly sleep no more than five hours a night. My schedule has definitely led towards my immune system not being what it should.

Time to slow down a bit and get rest.

Problem is, I don’t want to slow down!


Mike said...

The 5 hours a night alone would do it. Lack of sleep just kills your immune system. And instead of running, do some resistance training -- that also helps boost immunity. I've been in Japan for 20 years and I have had the flu once and I almost never get so much as a sniffle....until I start into a writing cycle and just don't sleep. So it's definitely not Japan -- you gotta look after yourself better, yo!!

Brokendrums said...


You are probably very correct. I have been burning the candle at both ends for quite some time. Running mind you, there's something I don't ever want to say goodbye too! Love it too much!

Anonymous said...

Wash your hands at every opportunity. Don't put your hands anywhere near your face.

Those two golden rules allowed me to ride out the worst sick waves in my old hagwon!

Hope you start feelin' better soon.