In the last ICO Matters magazine, the cover article put the spotlight on couples who met during their time at ICO. During orientation, there were multiple times people told us to “look around, because you might see your future spouse.” Therefore, when people started dating in our class, no one was very surprised. However, I never thought I would be one of them.
When I was younger, I told my mom I would never date another doctor, and before I came to ICO, I told her that I would never date a fellow optometrist. I assumed it would become too competitive. I was wrong, and started dating a fellow student. I was completely wrong about the competitiveness, and think that I am actually doing better academically since entering a relationship.
I think the number one reason so many students start dating peers is because of the stress. No one understands what we all go through while at school. No one understands the stress of having constant exams, quizzes, and practicals. Until you’ve experienced first year, you have no idea what we have accomplished. It is nice to find someone who finally understands, and can lend a shoulder to lean on when the stress feels like it’s unbearable.
While friendships at ICO have a lot of the same benefits, there is an added bonus of dating another ICO student. Personally, I am a very shy person. I find it difficult to ask for help, even from my best of friends. However, I don’t feel embarrassed or imposing to ask my significant other stupid questions. He is willing to explain how Acyclovir works for the fiftieth time, if that is what it takes. My grades have improved since I gained not only a boyfriend but also a favorite study buddy.
The benefits aren’t only for the exams, but also for practicals. Even though it is not the most romantic date, we spend a lot of time in the Eyepod practicing. I’m a very nervous person, and he walks me through it and lets me practice until I feel ready and confident. He is also there to give me a pep talk before the big practical.
Another benefit is being able to come home from clinic and have a conversation with someone who knows what I am talking about when I say my patient had a 14 prism diopter hypertrophia. I feel like I am an adult when I can have a conversation about something I am passionate about. It is a bonus when my significant other understands and is passionate about the same thing!
I think dating a fellow student while at ICO makes a relationship stronger. We see each other at our breaking points, and are there to celebrate when we get a hundred on an exam. We have to lean on them and show them our insecurities because they’re our safe place here.
When we do want celebrate an exam, practical, or clinic experience gone well, it is wonderful to have a significant other to explore Chicago with. If you have seen any of my other blogs, you will notice that my significant other and I love to find new places to eat. And if we decide to stay in, it is an added bonus that my significant other/optometry student is a fantastic chef!
Sitting in orientation and hearing about potential relationships, I never would have guessed mine was sitting just a few seats away from me. I probably rolled my eyes, and was clueless to all of these benefits that would make ICO even more special to me.