As the summer season dwindles down, it is time to face the next step. Reality is settling back in. Whether you are in need of a breather or getting ready to get back on your feet, the end of a season marks the dawn of new beginning.
As I converse with those around me, I can feel a shift. From those students above me, I can feel their heavy sighs as they soldier on into third year, finishing the first quarter strong. They are ready to take a break before the next part of their journey begins. From those that I mentor, I feel an overwhelming anxiety, excitement, and fear of the unknown. The Class of 2020 is officially welcomed to ICO today.
What should they expect? I say, expect to be blown away- in more ways than one. Orientation at ICO is a one of a kind experience. It is a time where each student is introduced to ICO, the school they chose that best suited their needs. I remember feeling honored to even be sitting in one of the lecture hall chairs. In the days that follow, each student will be formally introduced to the college that will become the foundation of their career in optometry.
Orientation rolls over into several days of week. There are opportunities to meet faculty, meet your fellow classmates, get settled into Chicago, and jump head first into a school full of passion and invigorating energy. If you choose to live in the Residential Complex just a hop, skip, and a jump away from ICO, move-in day is one to remember. Helping hands guide you the entire day to make sure your move goes as quickly and painlessly as possible. Once you are settled, students from varying professional levels are there to mingle, give their best advice, and welcome you the proper way- by having fun, of course!
The days that follow consist of getting ID badges, listening to safety guidelines when living in a large city, getting to know your colleagues, learning to find your away around your new home, and most of all, getting to know your new family. The entire Orientation is centered around the incoming students and how to best prepare them for the journey they are embarking on. It is a time to make the newcomers aware of the commitment they are about to make to themselves, ICO, and optometry as a whole.
Thrown into the mix of very serious and pertinent matters is tons of fun. The architectural boat tour is an incredible experience, even if you were raised in Chicago. Students also get to explore restaurants in the River North area with upperclassmen. Each night, there are social events guided by upperclassmen to help you get to know everyone within your own class on a more casual level.
The relationships you make the first few nights you arrive may end up being the ones that last a lifetime. As I reminisce on my own orientation week, I can remember being told, “Your husband or wife could be sitting in the very seat right next to you.” After just one year, that statement could not be more accurate as I look upon all the relationships made in just a short amount of time.
During Orientation, the entire ICO family gets involved in some way to welcome the incoming class with open arms. This year, I am involved as a leader and a mentor, rather than an incoming student. I am still so excited to be a part of a truly unforgettable week.
It is not just the beginning for the class of 2020, as all ICO students are preparing for a new quarter. As I pack my bags to move back into the Windy City, a bittersweet feeling overwhelms me. Bitter as this is my final summer off before becoming ‘Dr. Mallory Scrimger’; sweet because I know I get to come back home to my ICO family and finish what I started.
Even if you are not a part of the ICO experience, as the season wanes, and the days become shorter, a new light is upon us all.