The last year of optometry school gives you so much time, you almost don’t know what to do with it. This summer, I’m in a beautiful city close to Vancouver, Canada, and the fact that I don’t have any family or friends in the area has forced me to spend a lot of time alone. It has got me thinking about how much I miss all the friends I’ve made during my time at ICO. Being off campus has been a challenge for me because I don’t have the support network that I had at school. I’m looking forward to my on-campus rotation this fall so I can see all of my friends and feel at home again!
When you arrive on the ICO campus for the very first time, you meet the people that will become your group for the next four years. The class connection is unique in that, outside of your close knit group, you won’t necessarily talk to everyone that often. Yet, you know exactly what they’re going through with the intense exams, practicals, and clinic schedules. Everyone in the class knows everybody else. We support each other, from wishing good luck on upcoming practicals to “classmate of the year” making and sharing study guides for every exam. We celebrate milestones together, like picking externships and starting rotations; I’m looking very forward to the graduation boat cruise next May! We’ll see each other at the ICO Homecoming for class reunions and will forever be members of our “private” (not-so-private) class Facebook page.
During my years on the ICO campus, the security team has been my family. All the staff have taken such good care of us, from having fresh coffee for me at 4 a.m. when I arrive to study for my morning exam, to driving me home late at night after a long day. I love sitting and having dinner with the security team in the cafeteria, or ordering pizza and eating in the security office. They have been the best group of people to chat with and have encouraged me to keep going and see the light at the end of the tunnel whenever I feel stressed or discouraged.
In second year, when I started living off campus, I started bringing packed lunches to school. It didn’t take me long to find “my spot” up in the sitting area by the security office. A few other students had also been sitting up there, and we started chatting about classes, our clinic experiences, and life in general. Over 2nd and 3rd year we gained a couple of members, too, and have almost taken over that area. The friends I made at ICO will become my CE (continuing education) crew after graduation, and plans are already in the works to attend Vision Expo in Vegas every year.
For those former graduates reading this, I hope this will help you remember the friends and the memories you had made during your time at ICO. For those current and future students, I hope this will help you appreciate the time you have on campus. Even though you have classes and labs and you’re so busy, you get to be with your friends every day. It goes by so fast, enjoy every moment. Things will never be the same again!!