Second year. That’s right, ladies and gents, the class of 2017 officially finished their first year at ICO about a month ago. Which, after nine months of rigorous coursework, only means one thing: summer!
It’s our last summer without classes, and my classmates are scattered all over the place–some are in the Caribbean on mission trips, some are in their hometowns, some are staying in Chicago.
I myself am staying in Chicagoland and have perhaps taken on one too many activities. I’m working in the admissions office three or four times a week and taking shifts at a Lenscrafters in the suburbs when I can. And, of course, I’d be a fool not to explore the city’s wide variety of downtime activities. I’m trying out lots of restaurants and rooftop bars, which are great for enjoying a margarita or cold beer with friends in the good weather. It’s days and nights like these that make up ten-fold for this past harsh winter (multiple polar vortices and all). Still on my summer to-do list is sampling what’s reputed to be the best tiramisu in town at Sapori Trattoria and attending Jazzin’ at the Shedd. Obviously we’re not exactly well-paid as students and cutting costs is great, so I’ve been making use of Groupon and LivingSocial deals to be able to enjoy new experiences at discounted rates of 50 percent or more. I highly recommend it.
Now that my time at home is becoming shorter, I’m beginning to feel a sense of loss. I’m beginning to appreciate the things I have, things that I have always taken for granted and things that I will not have when I leave for ICO in August.
At this point in time, I live in Toronto, Ontario, in the magical land of Canada. We live in igloos and hunt polar bear. We play hockey while riding on moose and our workforce runs off of Tim Hortons coffee. We always say sorry, even when it’s not our fault.
I’m going to miss all of that.
I’ve never been a sentimental person. I guess that’s because I’m not the type of person who takes his time to appreciate life. I have always been excited to leave wherever I was and experience something new, and that’s evident now in the fact that I’ve spent a ton of time preparing for school, but absolutely none preparing to leave home.
It’s official. I am a college graduate. It’s been only a few days and it still hasn’t hit me. At moments, I feel the realness of everything hit me, and I choke back a sob and then it’s back to pretending that it is just a summer vacation. Graduating college means packing and unpacking. The hard thing to realize is that the next time I pack up for school, I’ll be moving to Chicago for my next adventure. This makes me feel excited yet sad. Both of these emotions can be used to express how I feel about opening a new chapter of my life. While I’m sad to close this chapter in my life, I am also excited for the new one.
I’m assigned four 45-minute vision therapy sessions with four different patients every Wednesday night. The best part about this shift is that unless a patient wishes to discontinue therapy, I pretty much get to see the same people every week. It’s an opportunity to get to know them, bond with them, encourage them and learn from them.
I think the most unique experience I’ve had throughout my entire career at ICO happened with my 23-year-old vision therapy patient who needed some new glasses (getting the right prescription is the first step to therapy). She was my last appointment on that first Wednesday evening. Her day starts at 4 a.m., so she was tired, practically falling asleep during the exam. Her main issue was that she saw double of everything due to an eye turn, and her vision was blurry.
In a nutshell, I refracted her the best I could, and got her to see 20/20 from both eyes, but she was still seeing double of everything in the room. My attending, Dr. Smolyansky, then instructed me to put some prism into the temporary trial-glasses we put on her.
That’s when the magic happened.
Patient: “Oh my gosh, I can see!”
Dr. Smolyansky: “Do you still see double?”
Patient: “Not even a little bit.”
It was a mere three weeks ago that I donned a black cap and gown and walked across the stage to receive my bachelor’s degree in health science from Purdue University. After the ceremony, unlike most of my friends who were going off to work salaried jobs in various parts of the country, I didn’t have those post-grad blues. While my degree represented everything I had worked for as an undergrad, I knew it also represented the new journey I’m starting as part of ICO’s class of 2018!
I think I speak for everyone in my entering class when I say IS IT AUGUST 6 YET?! I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for summer. I know I really should relish in these rare three months of free time with no classes and no responsibility, but I can’t help but look ahead to this fall when all the madness begins. No, I’m obviously not PUMPED to stay up until 3 a.m. cramming exam material or waking up early for lectures or being forever lost in biochemistry (again), but think of all the stuff there is to be excited about: meeting new people, the RC, being in clinic, THE CITY.
But okay. I can’t get ahead of myself. It’s only the beginning of the summer. I’m lucky enough to be incredibly free this summer (minus the few shifts a week I picked up at my old retail job), so that raises the question: What am I going to do fill the remaining two months until I move in?
To my fellow classmates who are also wondering this, here are my tips on how to fill your summer with worthwhile activities while anxiously awaiting the next 4 years of your life.
A day devoted to remembering those who have fallen fighting for our freedom, safety, and certainty. In this country, freedom is taken for granted; bondage is not easily defined by experience. In this country, safety is cherished and held dear; danger is feared and avoided. In this country, certainty is attainable; uncertainty is defeated. We have these privileges because of people who gave up theirs. These people know the true meaning of selflessness, friendship, and family.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends: John 15:13
I, along with my fellow members of ICO’s class of 2018, am about to step into a new chapter–perhaps a new book–in the series we call life. The next couple months must be spent preparing our minds, hearts, and souls to give up our whole selves in devotion to those around us. The adventure we will begin in August is not solely for ourselves but for every person we come into contact with during the next four years. Becoming an optometry student is a remarkable accomplishment along our journey. It is now time to turn this accomplishment into a training: a training to become the guardian and protector of the human eye. The eye is what allows us to interpret our surroundings and respond appropriately. As we learn how to preserve, correct, and enhance vision, we learn how to improve the quality of life.