August 08, 2005

Catching a Cold

So, I managed to catch quite a nasty cold a few days ago, and had to forgo the performance of the Cuban National Ballet I had bought tickets too. I'm still feeling quite under the weather, but getting better.

Anyway, what I think is interesting to write about relevant to my cold, is different cultural ideas of sickness and health...

It is widely believed in Meditteranean cultures, and in Latin America also, that you can catch a cold from being exposed to cold air, or from transitioning too quickly between a warm and a cool climate. Americans (and I think northern Europeans also) think this theory is quite ridiculous. Colds come from viruses, and dipping between saunas and snowbanks is excellent for your health.

I must admit, however, that I did come down with my cold the day after I had sat beneath the air conditioner in class. (Unlike the Spanish and Italian students around me, I did not put on anything warmer than the tank-top I was wearing.) The other students, and the Tunisian professor, are convinced this is to blame for my sickness. This theory has since been further endorsed up by friends from Malta, France, Turkey, and Honduras.

The people who believe in the air conditioning theory have all given me the same advice: avoid exposing myself to cold air until I get better, and at all costs, don't drink any cold water. My American friends think it silly, but I've decided to follow their advice. After all, maybe Mediterranean cultures know something about staying healthy in a Mediterranean climate.


Anonymous jmarie said...

I am laughing out loud as I read about your Tunisian professor's diagnoses -- I can relate all too well to the "Meditteranean theories on how one catches a cold" after having been admonished by my Tunisian relatives for going out with my hair wet... further shocking them is that I did not come down with pneumonia. I too always tried to explain to them the fact that colds come from viruses, and not from being cold... so it truly made me laugh out loud when reading this entry. But now I think that you have gained new wisdom that I just laughed away, in that Meditterranean cultures may well know something about staying healthy in a Meditteranean climate!

August 16, 2005  

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