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Count down to Boo Bash

Posted by on Oct 2, 2015 in Blogs

The Save the Date was sent out, ladies and gents, so starting planning your costumes- Boo Bash is upon us! While Boo Bash is a great way to let off some steam from studying (this year it is two weeks before finals,) it is also a great time for the whole school to come together and have some fun. And if ICOlympics didn’t prove it, our school can get into some friendly competition during the costume contest (a certain Wolverine look alike won last year.)

For anyone who is new to ICO, Boo Bash is an annual event where the entire school is invited to dress up and go out in Chicago. I should be studying for exams and trying to get ahead before Boo Bash starts, but thinking about a good costume is a welcome distraction.

While looking at photos, I came across costumes from my past. Maybe they will give some inspiration for someone (I’m thinking Teletubbies might be a good one.) I might also grab an extra costume for October 31st, because who doesn’t love trick or treating? Bonus points for eye related costumes (Worth 4 dot anyone?).







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The Money Making Class

Posted by on Sep 10, 2015 in Blogs

The first book I bought for Optometry school

The first book I bought for Optometry school

Second year is here. With a quick review of all the tests and tricks we learned last year, we are ready to learn even more. While we have started learning about near vision, binocular vision, etc., there is one class that I think all Optometrists should be excited to take. I call it the Money Making Class.

Now, you may be wondering, “What is the Money Making Class? Do we learn how to print the greens and the loonies (we can’t exclude the Canadians)?” No, the Money Making Class is also known as the Ophthlamic Optics Course taught for the first time by Dr. Goodfellow. I call it the Money Making Class because a lot of the money that we will hopefully one day make (dang loans!) will come from the sales of glasses in our future offices.

Face Shapes and Glasses Guidelines

Face Shapes and Glasses Guidelines

So far, we have learned all about the anatomy of glasses (I mean spectacles, as we optometrists like to say.) We have learned about the different types of materials the frames can be, and the lenses, and which glasses should be used for Dress glasses, Athletic glasses, or Safety glasses. I can tell you when the MRP and OC should be aligned, and calculate an image jump (However, I haven’t even taken this exam yet, so maybe give me a few more weeks before asking.) We even talk about the shape of someone’s head and which glasses we should give the person. Round glasses on a round face? Big no no!

Unfortunately, reading teen magazines didn’t help me that much; I still find it hard matching a shape to a face. With a little bit of practice, I’m sure I could get an article into Cosmo telling women all around the world what type of glasses are best for them! The bright side is, if I don’t become the next big fashion editor, I know I will be ok because I took the Money Making Class.


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Bucket List Beyond Studying

Posted by on Aug 10, 2015 in Blogs


As some of you may know from my blog Don’t Panic, my previous Fall in Chicago was not the best. This year, I am planning on enjoying Chicago even more. What do I want to do this Fall? More like, what don’t I want to do?? I have a huge bucket list to start as soon as I get back, and cannot wait. Some of the list includes activities, places to see, and of course, places to eat.

1. Six Flags: Who doesn’t love amusement parks? My siblings and I got season passes to the one in Minnesota. I think it is time to compare Valleyfair to Six Flags. Lucky me, the Class of 2018 has planned a trip to go before exams begin!

2. Ferris Bueller Day: OK, so maybe fitting in everything Ferris did in one day might be a little hard, but I do want to do everything he did. This includes: The Art Institute of Chicago, Wrigley Field, any restaurant on Rush Street, the Von Steuben Day Parade (Sept. 12 this year,) The Sears Tower, and the Ben Rose House (Cameron’s house.)



3. Myopic BooksHello, we are at optometry school; of course Myopic Books is going to get my attention. I also love to read, and this place looks packed with books. Apparently there is also a no cell phone rule, so be prepared to remember the good old days.


4. The AviaryMy cousin just told me about this bar/restaurant that has drinks with a twist. I’ve heard rumors that they have a drink that changes flavors and colors when you flip it. They have a drink with frozen bubbles in it, and a drink that you sling shot an egg into (?). While this may be an upscale evening out, my other cousin said people are happier when they spend money on experiences, not on material goods.

Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 1.09.41 PM

5. Ice Cream: I love ice cream, and so far I have not found the perfect ice cream place in Chicago. I have high standards, such as homemade ice cream or homemade waffle cones. Is that too much to ask for? Also, I prefer not to break the bank while I am trying to afford optometry school.

6. The Maggie Daley ParkThis park was built last year and is very close to Millennium Park. There is a jungle gym, a climbing wall, and tennis courts. In the Winter, they have what is called the “skating ribbon,” which is an ice rink that goes around the entire park. I cannot wait to go skating this winter on the ribbon!


While this list doesn’t include all the things I want to experience in Chicago, it gives you an idea that there are a million things to do in this city. I cannot wait to return and walk around the city to find hidden treasures at every corner. If you have any suggestions to this list, please let me know!

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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

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.


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.)


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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