It has been 8 weeks since classes began here at ICO. Those 8 weeks have been packed with tests, labs, events, ups, downs, failures, triumphs, memories, and most importantly, experiences. I remember sitting through the week of orientation hearing students, staff, and doctors bombard us with information, most of which I could not relate to and had no idea what they were getting at. I am just now beginning to understand some of the things they were telling us.
For starters, one of the biggest things that stands out is the spiel given by the security staff. This mostly stood out due to theatrical entertainment reasons, but nonetheless it stuck. They talked to us about safety, mostly, but also about us coming into their office and getting to know them when we bum a cup of coffee. I never thought I would actually stop into their office for coffee, but one day I was tired of the cafeteria coffee and decided to give theirs a chance. Now, it has become somewhat of a routine. Besides having decent coffee, the staff is as friendly as they said they were during orientation week.
Another thing that stood out with me from orientation week was Dr. Baker. I remember him talking about marathons; at the time, I saw no direct relationship with optometry school. The point of his speech was, however, that school is not a sprint, but a marathon. In other words, you can’t cram for exams. I obviously disagreed with what he said because it went against my previously formed habits from undergrad. However, I am starting to see the truth in what he was talking about. Yes, I have classmates and there are always going to be those students who are excellent “crammers” and can get through school with short “sprints” rather than a steady-paced “marathon,” but I am starting to drift more towards the marathon approach of which Dr. Baker spoke.
The last thing that really stuck with me from orientation was speaking to older students. They told me that they have no sleep schedule and this will probably be the case for me. I, again, remember disagreeing because I had a somewhat consistent sleep schedule in undergrad so why wouldn’t I have one now? Nope. I was wrong. They were right. I cannot remember when I had the same sleep schedule even two nights in a row.
The point of this reflection is simply to realize the transformation that has been occurring since I got here. I may not have realized it until now, but it has. I’m sure if you spoke to the second years, they would tell you how much things have changed for them, and third and fourth years would speak of even greater changes. But that’s the goal of higher education.
I recently read an article in TIME magazine written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar that relates to the transformative experiences of education. For those of you who don’t know who this author is, he is a former professional basketball player from New York City who is known for his success with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1970’s and 18980’s. His article was basically about higher education and some of the obstacles students face throughout their programs. My favorite quote from the article was, “If you end up with all the same opinions you had before, then at least you can be confident that they are good ones because you’ve fairly examined all the options.”
He was, of course, talking about a student entering and graduating from some sort of post-high school education with a bit of a sarcastic tone. This quote basically means that someone completing a program should have a changed perspective from when they started. If they didn’t (and this is the sarcastic tone,) at least they can be confident that they came in with some pretty good habits and opinions.
This article and certainly this quote can be applied to the transformations that all students at ICO go through. We come in with one way of thinking and we leave with a new perspective and lots of newly acquired knowledge. I may only be at the front end of this transformative process, but I am beginning to notice it… and I’m sure my classmates are too.