When you live in Chicago, it’s bound to happen that friends and family will visit you. The city is lovely, and I tell everyone to come and take advantage of a free stay. You’ll notice, however, that after a while, you are bound to re-visit the same Chicago tourist attractions time and time again. I could try and fit an entire itinerary in this post, but instead, I think the Shedd Aquarium deserves it’s own.
Shedd gift shop with a giant octopus that blinks
After being here for a good few years now, I learned some neat things about Shedd that might save you some money. As the blog’s coupon queen, I think it’s pretty helpful to know that Shedd has Illinois Resident Discount Days, which are designated days you can bring proof of residence in the state and visit the aquarium (not including special exhibits) for free. What about all your friends from out of town, you ask? General admission is just $8, and residents get $3 off admission if it’s not a resident discount day. (Note: General admission is not really advertised anywhere at the ticket booth, but trust me, there is such a thing!) I know you’re probably thinking, ‘Well, their other regular packages go up to about $35, what on earth am I missing here?’ I think the main attraction that I’ve noticed missing from general admission access is Stingray Touch, Jellies, the Aquatic Show, the Oceanarium and the 4-D movie. If you’re really looking for a fancy time, you can meet the penguins and belugas and everything for a premium price. If you’re tight on time or money, or if you’ve already visited everything once, $5 is a great deal.
We’re all studying to be optometrists, but what does that really mean? Is it handing out glasses and contacts? Is it checking a patient’s ocular health? Is it using fancy equipment like a phoropter and retinoscope? It’s actually so much more than that. As students, sometimes we get so wrapped up in getting good grades and studying constantly (all day, everyday) that it becomes hard to remember the mission we have as optometrists–that is, to perfect a person’s vision and eye health in order to better their everyday lives.
Luckily, they really emphasize the bigger picture at ICO. As a new member to the Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity club, I had the chance to volunteer at an event put on in honor of World Sight Day, which was last Thursday, Oct. 10. Prior to ICO, I had no idea this day existed so I’ll give you a little background. Simply put, World Sight Day is an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October, to focus global attention on blindness and vision deficits. So what did that mean for the students at ICO?
Last month I got an email about a race hosted by Women’s Health magazine called Run10 Feed10, an annual run to fight hunger in the U.S. I shared the details with my friend Athkar; both of us love working out and being involved in our community. So even though we only had a few weeks to train, we decided to run our first 10K together.
The morning of the race, Oct. 6, it was pouring cats and dogs. After boarding my bus, I made my way north to Lincoln Park and was happy to see clearer skies and a camp of tents with crowds of women interspersed with a few men. Athkar and I checked in and we received our race bibs. As I took that piece of paper with my number printed in large type, a chill of excitement went down my spine–the day had finally come!
Alright kiddos, it’s time to start thinking about NBEO Part III.
As soon as something gets to have III attached to it, you know it’s a big deal. As mother always said, if something is epic enough to have three versions of it, you best come ready, guns a-blazin’.
To wit: Alexander III of Russia. Robert Griffin III.
But let’s be real: Even though I’m living and breathing optometry more than oxygen these days, I still have to practice. This requires motivation to schedule a practice partner, and the willingness to sit for them in turn.
To no one’s surprise, I haven’t started.
The occasional vague text of “we should practice” gets sent and received, but laziness takes over and cleaning the fridge seems like a better way to spend the night. Except who cleans their fridges? Right now I’m proud of myself for just thinking about eventually cleaning it. #ProgressNotPerfection (copyright Mark Marquez)
Part III is unique because you can schedule it whenever you want in fourth year, and you go to North Carolina. Fun fact: Babe Ruth hit his first home run in North Carolina, and Pepsi was invented there. I can’t think of any better reason to visit a place than that. Sadly, at this rate, I’ll be drowning in my own tears too long to enjoy the famed Southern Hospitality.
Second year has been great thus far. Instead of the typical three exams we faced each week during first year, we now usually only have two per week. Sometimes we have just one! Such was the case last week, when our only exam was Pharmacology, on Friday. I was extra excited to finish this exam because Pharmacology is our trickiest class and an exciting weekend awaited. Nothing spells fun like a weekend away from school with friends. Even if it is school-related.
Each year, the Illinois Optometric Association hosts a convention for ODs and students to meet, mingle, network and learn. This year, the convention was held at the Westin in Itasca, a western suburb of Chicago. ICO students are encouraged to go, and we’re even able to stay at the hotel for free. I passed up this opportunity first year, but several of my peers and I decided to attend this time around. Friday evening, we made the drive to Itasca from campus in under an hour, talking about of everything except school and stoping at Steak ‘n Shake for dinner. Once we arrived at the hotel, we checked out the IOA’s Hospitality Suite. Drinks were served and guests tried their vocals at karaoke. We mingled with our classmates and others, and clapped when a group of our peers braved the crowd to sing Thrift Opt.
After spending hours upon hours hunched over your Anatomy notes, the different lobes of the brain begin to melt together, the cranial nerve pathways become jumbled, and you begin to lose hope that you will be sleeping more than a few hours later that night. A slight whimper of defeat escapes from you as you take yet another swig from your coffee cup.
That might have been a bit dramatic. But sometimes life as an optometry student can be overwhelming. When the going gets tough, you just need to escape and take a little time off for yourself–which is exactly what I did a couple of weekends ago!
I’m not sure if you have heard of it or not, but Chicago has this little thing called Lake Michigan. On days when the sun is shining and you have some time to sneak away from campus, the lake is definitely a prime spot to hit up. Especially because there’s a newly developed lakefront destination right by ICO–31st Street Beach and Harbor. It’s only a 15-minute walk from campus!
You have to believe me when I say that this place is incredible. This is the first year the harbor has been open since its construction, and it currently holds the title for being the greenest in the world. Additionally, the panoramic view of the city from the roof of the harbor is a must-see.