On a Saturday morning, many like to sleep in, some hit the gym, and others like to catch up on their to-do lists. I decided to leave the house, grab a cup of coffee, and study the morning away. Normally I would stay at home on a Saturday morning, even to study. But now that our son is 2 months, I had a feeling that I wouldn’t get much done. I am so grateful for my supportive husband who willingly stays home with the kiddos on days like this. With my Starbucks gift card in hand and my optics textbook in my bag, I started off for my dose of caffeine.
As I made my way through chapter 5, I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation about ICO from what must have been a first year student. I heard phrases such as “food from the cafeteria” to “we have finals on Saturdays” to “White Coat Ceremony.” That took me back to a year ago.
This time last year, the class of 2018 had already taken two exams- Biochemistry and Human Anatomy. We had already received our white coats, and most of us had our daily routine figured out. It has been a whole year. I’m not sure about the rest of my classmates, but it feels like first year was a totally different life- a life that we survived.
For the first time, I learned that having two to three exams a week was normal. That a 3-inch binder wouldn’t fit all my anatomy notes. That the normal course-load for winter quarter could change, forcing you to take neuro and anatomy at the same time. That practicals were scary, and I could never practice enough. That pregnancy brain was not a valid excuse to do poorly on an exam. That snow days, although rare, do exist in grad school. But most importantly, I learned that all the pain of first year was worth it.
Class of 2019, you now have your white coats. You have your routines. It won’t be easy, and the light at the end of the tunnel may not be very bright, but you will get through. It’s worth every moment you spend listening to lectures, studying for exams, and getting ready for practicals.
Second year is a little different. Everything seems to flow a little better. Instead of school just being “school,” it has become more of a way of life. Instead of rushing to finish studying, the textbooks seem more interesting. Maybe it’s because I know summer break is a thing of the past, and it’s full-time from here on out. But I think it’s mostly because I view this more as a career and less as class or homework. I am now becoming an optometrist.
I think my family is starting to realize this, too. This afternoon, after the studying was over, my daughter and I decided to have some eye-related fun: googly craft eyes and “Parents” magazine. In the midst of the studying, let’s not forget to goof around. Congrats on receiving your white coats, Class of 2019, and let the fun begin!