You know that exciting feeling you get when you buy a fresh pair of five-inch heels or get an A on an ocular anatomy exam? Well, multiply that by like a hundred and that’s how my fellow classmates and I felt upon completing our finals and thus finishing our first year of optometry school.
Waking up on the morning of our last final, I had an instant smile to my face. Could my first year here really be over? As we sat in the lecture hall waiting for testing to begin, my friends and I could hardly contain our excitement enough to focus on the exam itself. Hours later, it was over and we were walking back into the RC. And at the door, two ICO staff members stood by congratulating us for being done. Joy, surprise, happiness and dozens of other emotions inflated us for hours of celebration. What began as a cookout in the RC migrated downtown for celebratory shopping and noshing along the tulip-streamed Magnificent Mile and carried way through the AM. What finals week sleep deprivation? Partying waits for no man.
Looking back, it’s been a long year filled with learning, new experiences, amazing friendships, challenging times…and it’s been great. In the past nine months, I’ve met a great group of about 150 with whom I studied for and completed about 47 exams, six practicals, 17 finals and 68 credit hours. And through it all, we struggled together and laughed together. I’m happy to have learned material from notes that now fill two boxes, to have gained “doctor knowledge of neuroanatomy,” to have struggled to remember the details of numerous pathologies, to have stored away my nerves and made my first class presentation, and to have reached this milestone. It was hard, mind-torturing at times, but good. And more often than not, it was hilarious.
Today, I’m sitting back and enjoying my summer vacation as a rising second year. At the same time, I’m also looking forward to August. Every upperclassmen I’ve spoken with says that first year is the most difficult academic-wise. Now that we’re through with year one, I say: Bring it on!