Suddenly, I’m a full-fledged optometry student. We just finished our first two weeks of fall quarter and most of my classmates agree that our lives are a whirlwind of classes, clubs, and even some fun (yes, there is time for that still). Taking six classes (feels like nine if you include labs) is no easy feat, but it’s still so exciting to finally be starting the final leg of my education.
Orientation was overwhelmingly daunting, but let me tell you that while ICO students work hard, they play hard too. The upperclassmen couldn’t stress enough that in addition to all of our studies, we also needed to make time for ourselves. Trust me, I was thankful to hear that I could still go to the gym and run or even spend time downtown with my friends. Chicago is such a great city and I want to take full advantage of it while I’m here.
As the first weekend started, the class of 2017 was revved up for a little fun after a tumultuous week of taking note after note in class after class. Lucky for us, we got our first taste of the ICOlympics. Classes compete against each other in like volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, limbo, water ballon toss, etc. I personally did the limbo (I used to be a gymnast so I thought hey, why not?) and took third place. Next year, I plan to really get limber and take first!
When you see license plates from Oregon, Texas, and British Columbia on Indiana Avenue on a hot August day, it can only mean one thing: it’s Move-In Day at ICO.
Now that I am far removed from moving in, I can look back on the beginnings of ICO with fondness, instead of what it actually was.
(insert “Jaws” music)
The first few weeks of ICO are fun and games until someone pokes an eye out. Luckily, we have all chosen a profession where eyes falling out are child’s play. A second year can suction that bad boy back into your orbit and continue studying for Pharm.
The start of a new season is always met with an elusive combination of excitement, anticipation and a touch of fear. At least for me. I was the kid in elementary school who laid out what I was going to wear for the first day of school every September. I am now the adult who looks forward to the excuse to buy new pens because I am an elitist stationary snob and if it’s not a fine-tipped RSVP pen, it might as well be a crayon.
Seeing the incoming first years get to experience all the fun “beginning of the year” events through my aged, fourth-year, cataract-ridden eyes is kind of a trip. Remember how fun ICOlympics is when there are 184 of you to participate? Now the 30 of us here look around and shrug our shoulders. I guess Siva’s going to be in the watermelon-eating contest, by virtue of being a girl.
Full disclosure: Alex Golden and I won that contest. I don’t care what anyone says.
I vividly remember sitting through new student orientation around this time five years ago. I remember being nervous. Very nervous. And to be fair, there was a lot to be nervous about: making new friends, living in the city, establishing professional contacts, not to mention all of the work it was going to take to make it through the program.
I certainly wasn’t thinking I would end up joining the faculty.
But after 10 academic quarters (and 10 finals weeks), lots of patients at the Illinois Eye Institute, a few national board exams, and more patients on external rotations in Rhode Island, Colorado and China, I suddenly found myself wearing a gown with a green hood inside Rockefeller Chapel at my commencement ceremony.
Then came a residency program back at ICO, including plenty more IEI patients, three Grand Rounds presentations, an AAO case report and 10 weeks of Urgent Care on-call duty with, you guessed it, more patients.
And now, I finally have it: the coveted gray lab coat.
Last time you heard from me I was packing up my last few things before leaving for my road trip to Chicago, with a stop in Minneapolis along the way. In Minnesota we stopped at the outlet mall in Albertville, but there weren’t too many great sales and we were promptly on our way to our primary destination, the Mall of America. Here I found awesome deals: I got lots of shirts for $5-10 each from places like Banana Republic, Ann Taylor and Club Monaco.
After spending some time in the Mini Apple, we drove down to Schaumburg, a suburb of Chicago. We spent a day just exploring the community and its vibrant downtown, and we also visited the newly opened Chicago Premium Outlets in nearby Rosemont. The mall was filled with upscale shops that I couldn’t afford, but it was fun to look anyway. I enjoyed my last evening with family in Chicago at the Purple Pig on the Magnificent Mile. This place is tons of fun. The patio is tiny, yet they manage to cram so many people in it… let’s just say this isn’t the restaurant to go to if you’re planning on telling your big secrets.
Move-in day quickly arrived and I could barely contain my excitement, although I did drag my heels a little bit at the hotel because I knew I would soon be alone. I arrived at the school and was promptly greeted by some very pleasant second year students ready with their carts to get me moved in. The moving-in part took all of five minutes, and the unpacking and settling-in part took close to three hours. Getting acclimated is an ongoing process. I’ve had to make a few quick trips to Target for little things for the room, and these mini trips are a nice way to get out of the RC and wander the city a bit.
As Fatima recently wrote, every year we’re required to help out at least once at a vision screening. It’s really up to us which one we want to do, but I personally enjoy getting things out of the way before my schedule gets too crammed. So for my third year, I decided to participate at the Special Olympics’ Opening Eyes vision screening, sponsored by the Lions Club. The event took place over two days in Normal, Ill., about two hours from Chicago. Those of us who stayed both days were provided with a hotel room, as well as a delicious dinner at the end of the first day. Some people just participated on just the second day; everyone received a T-shirt and a box lunch.
The cool thing about doing a vision screening is that you get to work alongside faculty members, as well as residents that you may not have had a chance to work with, such as Drs. Goodfellow, Trachimowitz, Allison, Block and Gabriel, and even some of the opticians from the IEI’s Eyewear Center. Dr. Allison brought her lovely little daughter along to help out as well. Together, we screened about 240 athletes.
Dr. Goodfellow doing retinoscopy