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Don’t Panic…

Posted by on Jul 23, 2015 in Blogs

It has been almost a year since I started ICO, and boy, has a lot happened! Am I happy to be at ICO? Incredibly. I have met some of the best people here, I have learned so much about myself (and about the eyes,) and I have found something that I really enjoy.

However, if you would have asked me during the first week of classes if I had made the right decision, I probably wouldn’t have said all this. In fact, I actually told Beth Karmis that I thought I had made a huge mistake coming to ICO, that I didn’t want to be an eye doctor, that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and that I applied to optometry school because I didn’t want to apply to medical school. Oh, and I was saying all this while bawling my eyes out (I hate crying in front of people!)

Was it true what I was saying? No. So, why was I saying these things? I was saying these things because, for the last 18 hours, I had been having my first major panic attack. When you have one of these attacks, you seem to say anything that could help you get away from the “dangerous” situation.

Lets back up- 18 hours prior to this moment. It was the second day of classes, and we still had two more classes to go. I was fine… until I wasn’t. My heart started to hurt, I had a lump in my throat that made it impossible to breathe or talk, and my eyes were filling with tears. I excused myself and ran back to my room. I cried from three until midnight, and 2AM, I called my mom and said she had to come get me. She and my grandpa arrived 8 hours later, and had no idea what to do.

After a long talk between Beth, my mom, and I, we had a few options: try to get through classes until White Coat, go home for the week, or quit. My mom was afraid that if I went home for a week, I would never return. Round and round we went, until my grandpa said, “Jesus Christ, Melissa!” He decided he and my mom were going to leave me and return for White Coat in two weeks. As they were leaving, my second major panic attack began, and it didn’t stop until I fell asleep at home in my mom’s bed 8 hours later.

My mom had assumed that, as soon as I was in the car heading for Minnesota, it would all stop. It didn’t. I started to panic because I knew I wanted to be at ICO, and I wanted to be studying to become an eye doctor. I ultimately felt lost.

Fortunately, my grandma has a great relationship with her doctors. The next day, I had two doctor appointments. One was to a psychiatrist, and the other to a family doctor. Both said the same thing: Panic disorder. The psychiatrist said that my panic attacks were the kind that didn’t tire my body out, and therefore they lasted longer than the usual attack. The family doctor said that everyone has a battery- a reservoir- and unfortunately, I had gone into optometry school with both empty. I was exhausted.

I ended up being medicated, and I decided to head back to ICO. Unfortunately/fortunately, while I was getting used to the new medication, it would actually cause more panic attacks for the next three weeks. Family members had to take turns staying in Chicago for the time being. Therefore, I was struggling to stop panicking, stay atop my studies, hang out with family members everyday, and try to make friends.

I failed my first exam (biochemistry.) My mom said it was OK, Beth said it was OK, and Dr. Z said it was OK. I had a panic attack and bawled again while looking over the exam in her office. However, I did laugh after this because I was so embarrassed, and guess what? It was OK. Now, I’m preparing to start my second year, and kicking it off by helping with Orientation (who would have guessed?)

So, to incoming first years: It will be ok. They say first year is the hardest. While I have nothing to compare it to as of yet, you can get through it, no matter the bumps along the way. I found out that people are willing to help; just ask. Talk to your roommate, or Beth Karmis, your teacher, or someone from the year above (like me.) Everyone wants to help you in the difficult times, even if it has nothing to do with optometry.

As Rob Schneider said in The Waterboy: 

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Neighbors to the North

Posted by on Jul 9, 2015 in Blogs

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One of the great things about going to school at the Illinois College of Optometry is that you meet people from a variety of places. From the East to the West coast, from the South to the very coldest North, students are from everywhere- including Canada.

There are a few differences between The United States and Canada. While visiting my boyfriend (a fellow student) in Windsor, we started a list of things that are different between our two countries:

1. Alcohol, but mostly beer. Apparently, American beer is too light and watered down. Americans also like their IPAs and craft brews, which some Canadians do not like. Also, alcohol is cheaper in the States. A case of Budweiser was $40 in Windsor this summer!

2. Official Languages. My boyfriend’s first language was French, and then he learned English; both are official languages of Canada. While I speak English and Spanish, the States do not have an official language. However, Spanish is much more common than French in most places.

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3. Guns. I actually noticed Canadian reactions to guns when my roommate saw an officer in a restaurant still wearing his gun. Growing up in the States, we get used to the idea of guns way too easily.

4. Fast Food. First off, fast food is cheaper in the States than in Canada, so Canadians, eat your hearts out! However, we do not have “fries supreme” in the States. This is a travesty, because I just had them for the first time this summer and I already miss them (to any Canadians, please bring some back for me.)

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5. Toque. A toque is what Americans call a winter hat. Do not make the mistake of calling it a beanie because beanies are those knit hats that are baggy in the back. According to Danny, a beanie is a subgroup of a toque.

6. Volleyball. Volleyball is a boys’ sport in Canada. Obviously we had co-ed volleyball at my University, but it was not normal to have a grade school/high school boys’ volleyball team. Volleyball in Minnesota was mostly a girls’ sport. The main point of number 6 is, if you want to make an intramural volleyball team at ICO, make sure you get some Canadian men on the team.

7. Take/Write an Exam. In Canada you say “write an exam,” whereas in the States you say “take an exam.” There have been many debates over these two at the Cafeteria table, but neither side has won. How can you “write an exam” when it’s all multiple choice? However, we do pick up our exams and then “take the exam(s)” into the lecture halls…

These examples are not all the funny things you will hear fellow students say, but they give you an idea. At ICO, you are surrounded by different cultures and you should try to absorb it all. Even the differences between two states are prominent! For example, ask a Minnesotan to say “bag” (I’ve been told we say it funny.) You might even expand your vocabulary by hearing new words at the bubbler (a.k.a. water-fountain.)

 

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Cheezborgers, Cheeps and a Coke (no Pepsi)

Posted by on Jun 2, 2015 in Blogs

My double Cheezeborger, Cheeps and Coke

My double Cheezeborger, Cheeps and Coke

As I write my third or fourth blog about food, I’m starting to worry that everyone will think this is all I do. However, in my defense, how can you be in Chicago and not eat everything? I’m still drooling over the Spanish tapas bar I found and wrote about in my last article, Tasty Chicago. I keep telling myself that if I’m going to keep eating, I should try new places, only returning to previous places occasionally. Oh, the troubles of living in Chicago!

If you’ve ever Googled famous eats in Chicago, the lists of restaurants, food trucks, grab and gos, etc. will most likely overwhelm you. For the sports fans, you have Michael Jordan’s steak house and Mike Ditka’s restaurant. If you watch The League, head over to Gibson’s bar and restaurant. If you love Oprah Winfrey, then head to Table Fifty-two, who’s owner and chef Art Smith was Oprah’s personal chef for years.

If you are a fan of Murray, Belushi, and Aykroyd, then you should have already guessed which restaurant I am talking about: The Billy Goat Tavern, which was immortalized by their famous SNL skit. While the tavern has a few locations, locals and SNL fans will make fun of you unless you go to the original, at the lower level of Michigan Ave.

There are a few rules you should know if you decide to go there and not watch the SNL skit beforehand. First of all, do not order a single cheeseburger. As my friend found out, they will not give it to you and you will get a double cheeseburger. Get a triple if you are hungry. Next, they do not have fries, only chips, and do not think about ordering Pepsi- only Coke products.

Now about the food, the kaiser rolls are baked and delivered daily, and trust me, you can tell. The burgers are fresh and thin, which is why a single cheeseburger isn’t worth trying to get. Again, they won’t let you (unless you are a kid, or a girl on her first date). The double is 1/4lb, and the triple is “even better.” The Homerun is a double double for the extra hungry eater. Also, they let you put pickles and onions on. No lettuce. No tomatoes.

For sports fans, you can also learn about the Billy Goat Curse on the Cubs that has been going on for 69 years, 7 months and 20 days since I’ve been writing this.

No matter the reason you go to the Billy Goat tavern- if its for the burger, for the skit, or for the curse- you will definitely have a great time. You’ll leave with a full stomach and a great experience… unless you order a single cheeseburger, fries and a Pepsi.

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Tasty Chicago

Posted by on May 14, 2015 in Blogs

Everyone knows that Chicago is all about food. This past year, I have found some new favorite places:
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Yolk‘s strawberry orange juice!

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If you love donuts, Firecakes is a must.

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Make sure to go there when they are serving their ice cream donut sandwiches!

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If you don’t like donuts, Insomnia Cookies is the next best option, especially if it’s a late night. You can build your own ice cream cookie sandwich.

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Eataly has everything you would want to eat! The Neapolitan pizza is a great alternative to the famous deep dish.

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This last place is probably my favorite find in Chicago. I’ve been looking for an authentic tapas bar since studying in Spain, and I finally found one: Café Iberico! They have tortilla espanola and paella!

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They even have jamon Iberico and manchego cheese with tomato bread.

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Or, you can try their goat cheese with pesto bread.

Even if these places do not sound appetizing, they are just a few examples of the tasty places you can find in Chicago. It is definitely impossible to pick a favorite place because they are all so different from each other. I cannot wait to return to Chicago next year and continue exploring all that it has to offer.

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House Of ICO: Act like Matadors

House Of ICO: Act like Matadors

Posted by on Apr 6, 2015 in Blogs

If for some reason you aren’t a fan of House of Cards (yet), you must have noticed the hundreds of posts, quizzes and memes take over your feeds when the new season was released about a month ago. My friends and I may or may not have binge-watched the 13 episodes over a weekend (we HAD to finish before exams started!). The show is a reference point for some pretty important life lessons (for example, never trust politicians). So, I got to thinking, how does House of Cards relate to optometry students? Can I learn anything from Frank Underwood?

“If you don’t like how the table is set, turn over the table”. Optometry school is like politics. The student body is the House, and the faculty is Congress. We work together to find the best possible solutions to problems when they arise. Now, we don’t have 160 first year students ambushing the professors, but our class representatives do a great job making sure our voices are being heard. In fact, Dr. Mothersbaugh and Dr. Ittner decided to make changes early on–within the first two weeks of spring quarter–based on the feedback we gave.

“There are two types of vice presidents: doormats and matadors. Which do you think I intend to be?” I doubt anyone at ICO is trying to be vice president of the United States, but imagine if he had said, “there are two types of optometrists: doormats and matadors.” ICO isn’t teaching us to be doormat optometrists; they expect us to come here and act like matadors. If we don’t understand something, we practice and ask questions until we get it. Besides, who wants a doormat as their eye doctor?

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