The holiday season is known for heralding wonderful surprises: twinkly lights, overcooked ham, your 84-year-old grandma’s decision to redecorate your childhood bedroom while you’re asleep on the couch. But our collective immunity to once-mild viruses and diseases has reduced in the face of COVID-19, bringing a new set of less-wonderful surprises to your home this winter: RSV, mononucleosis, and now, First Semester Syndrome (FSS). This disease targets young people between the ages of 17 and 18, as well as 19 year olds who have peppered mentions of their gap year into conversation no less than 76 times in the past 90 days (FSS, like the title character from the 1988 film Beetlejuice, has particular sensitivities to the frequencies produced by such vocal intonations).
Although symptoms can appear as soon as Thanksgiving break, the infectious period can last up to 8 months if left untreated, causing both the WHO and the APA to classify the disease as a second semester nightmare. In order to stop the spread, both organizations have joined forces with Columbia Health to compile a list for concerned parents and community members of the phrases most commonly spoken by New York’s infected:
1. “It’s just so weird not walking everywhere.”
2. “What do you mean you haven’t read Plato’s Symposium?”
3. “I’m thinking of majoring in economics.”
4. “This song was playing the last time I went to Carroll’s.”
5. “Consulting would be great, but I know someone at Goldman who can put in a good word if I need it.”
6. “Should I call my promoter?”
7. “I actually turned down a secret society last semester.”
8. “Can you walk any faster?”
9. “You don’t understand, I’m going to need a letter of rec from Kamala Harris if I want any chance of getting into the knitting society.”
10. “Have you ever heard of Dimes Square?”
First Semester Syndrome is a highly-contagious and dangerous illness that should be treated with the utmost precaution and seriousness. If you or a loved one is showing signs of FSS, please seek treatment or call 911 immediately.