The Blessed Opt II

How waitressing prepared Nicki Minaj for success

“No I’m not lucky I’m blessed, yes” – Minaj, N.

What did Nicki Minaj mean when she rapped this line in Moment 4 Life (feat. Drake)? I think I know exactly what she was trying to describe: my second year of optometry school! I feel eternally grateful for The Ohio State University College of Optometry being so quick to adapt and modify our schedules for remote learning. This has made for a smooth transition into my second year. I appreciate the flexibility of having online lectures, but still being able to go into the school’s pre-clinic and eyewear gallery to practice my clinic skills and complete my rotation, respectively. Our labs are split up into smaller groups and we have to wear masks the entire duration, as well as complete a temperature check/health screening prior to coming to campus. By obliging to these new precautions, I feel safe coming to campus to work with professors and classmates. Hence, I really do share the same sentiment with Nicki Minaj!

Comparing the curriculum from my Opt I year to Opt II, I am enjoying the versatility of classes this year. Aside from the usual lectures and book work, we also get to learn how to complete the many components of a comprehensive eye exam! It is very exciting to see just how much I have already learned in a month, and how my clinic skills have improved with every lab and practice session. It has been a blast looking at all of my classmates’ eyes, and it is beginning to feel more real that I will get to assess the eyes of a multitude of patients someday. And while our white coat ceremony is still delayed indefinitely (due to the inability of having a large gathering size), I still feel proud of everyone for completing our challenging first year and adapting our learning/studying styles to be successful as an online optometry student. Go bucks :’)

Up next: learning to do a manifest refraction

Engraved fundoscopy lenses

Friday AM Eyewear Gallery crew

Dry eye testing (with help from Aishu)

OPT 1 YEAR = COMPLETE!

Well, I have finally decompressed enough to sit down and reflect on my tumultuous spring semester as an OPT 1. Let’s just say, I didn’t start off the semester how I wanted to. I was dealing with some personal things, and it had unfortunately affected my work ethic, which showed in my grades. I decided to utilize my school’s resources and sought out an appointment with Dr. Shawn Levstek, the Ohio State University College of Optometry’s in-house psychologist. He has private meetings to help students face many different kinds of issues, such as dealing with graduate school anxiety, relationship problems, and more. I cannot thank him enough for being such a great listener (and the school, for how easy it was to set up an appointment). Eventually, I got into a smooth rhythm again, largely due to the consistency of my schedule this semester (I even added three separate gym times to my weekly agenda). It helped that the exam schedule for the rest of the semester was roughly one exam per week. Turns out, I really didn’t mind taking exams every week because it was spread out and I liked being dedicated to one class at a time. Of course, this was all before spring break.

I visited home (Maryland) for the first half of spring break, before coming back to Columbus and getting ready to go to Chicago for the second half of my break. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic however, my friends and I decided it would be best to play it safe and pass on our St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Chicago. At the time, it sucked making that decision since it was something we had been looking forward to so much, but in hindsight, it was the best decision we could’ve made in regards to our safety and the safety of our loved ones. And simultaneously, universities across the nation were announcing plans to move to online virtual learning for the remainder of the semester, with the Ohio State University following suit.

I never thought that my Friday afternoon clinic before spring break would be the last time I would be on campus for the remainder of the semester. It was a shocking to say the least, but I was proud that my school was taking necessary actions to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. In fact, the state of Ohio has been deemed one of the leading states in the country in terms of flattening the curve. I certainly felt proud to be a student in this state.

Of course a new wrinkle appeared in my schedule the moment I had started to get in my rhythm. Adjusting to online classes was difficult at first. Our curriculum continued full speed and it was very easy to fall behind if you decided to procrastinate on any one task or lecture. I knew that in order to finish my semester strong, I had to make sure I watched all my lectures and complete all my homework assignments in a timely manner (and I admit, it helped that I didn’t have to change out of my pajamas!) In the end, I ended up performing better in my classes than before, simply because I had nothing to do other than study. Finishing my last final was rewarding, yet it still felt incomplete. The end of next week was supposed to be our white coat ceremony, where my whole class celebrates the completion of our first year of optometry school with our families and faculty. While that is delayed indefinitely due to the large gathering size, I am still proud of myself and my colleagues for finishing off a very tough and unpredictable school year. I will finish this post with a few of my favorite memories from this year 🙂

Orientation Day

Tailgates at the EYE house

SocialEyes Pumpkin Carving

Trip to visit Ohio University

Winter Holiday Party

Epsilon Psi Epsilon (EYE) Pledge Week Scavenger Hunt

EYE Ball (theme: the 20’s!)

Refreshed and Motivated!

All I have to say after my first semester is: “wow”

The first semester of optometry school was probably one of the toughest semesters I’ve had in my entire life! After that first wave of exams, we cooled down for a couple weeks, before continuing through the rest of the semester with at least one exam every week – all the way until finals. Following every exam, the professors provided ample time to stop by during office hours and go over questions that we missed. This is something not to be taken for granted, as it helped me strengthen my knowledge on my weaker topics. Our professors made sure to stress that the most critical thing is that we learn the content, not just for grades, but to better ourselves as doctors and help our future patients’ lives. Keeping this in the back of my mind is exactly what kept me motivated to finish the semester strong before a much needed winter break! If I am being honest, I never thought I would be able to learn this much information at once (my brain is practically swelling due to hypertrophy). But I think we all deserve to pat ourselves on the back once in a while, so I will take the opportunity to do that for myself and my fellow classmates! *cue: applause*

When I say that winter break was much needed, I think I am understating it quite a bit. If I am Jack Dawson from The Titanic, optometry school is Rose Calvert, and winter break was the plank that Rose was on before she and Jack – I mean… I – let go, then I would have shared the plank with Rose! The plank is the only thing that can keep me alive! (Okay that was a very poor and confusing analogy, I just wanted to reference Brad Pitt’s Golden Globe acceptance speech!) But really, winter break was just what I needed in order to feel refreshed again.

My class celebrated the start of break with a holiday party! We had people dressed in onesies, their favorite Christmas sweaters, and all sorts of holiday accessories. It was a great way to see everyone before we headed home to our families, and also to celebrate completing our first semester at THE Ohio State University College of Optometry.

(yes I am wearing a Christmas sweater of a Shih Tzu – just like my dog, Kiwi)

Once I got home, I had plenty of downtime to decompress doing my favorite activities. I spent a lot of time with my family, ate a lot of good food, and got to work on some music (and record a holiday song with my brother!)

IMG_1194  <- our cover of Kacey Musgraves’ Christmas Makes Me Cry (opens a new tab)

I wasn’t just laying around though, I did manage to finish the entire Pokemon Sword game on my Nintendo Switch. In other news…

I’m back and ready for my second semester! We finally get to be in clinic this semester, so that will be my extra motivation to study hard – for my future patients.

… and did I mention how thankful I am for winter break?

Midterms in review: a saga

We’ve all been there. Studying for an exam with a small group of friends. You’re going over a topic that isn’t your strongest (maybe coagulation cascade??). Suddenly, everyone can describe the pathway without missing a beat while you are struggling to remember what activates platelets. Instead of asking for help or explaining how you haven’t had a chance to review it, you sit there quietly and hope the conversation passes you over. Your mind starts to wonder how everyone has perfected it so quickly. Are you behind? Are they studying better than you? Have you been paying enough attention in class? Are you just taking up space in Fry 22? Cue: existential crisis!

I wish this didn’t plague my mind as much as it did, but I am human, and I let my brain’s never-ending turmoil affect me for at least 12 hours. During orientation week, faculty warned us of the dangers of getting in our heads and comparing ourselves to others, yet here I am letting my insecurity take over. I desperately needed to get my mojo back, so I channeled that negative energy into my studying. What ensued was the most productive solo-studying I’ve had all semester long. With that extra motivation, I was able to truly understand the concepts so that I could feel prepared the next time I studied with my peers. But the more I thought about it, the more I worried about how my new-found confidence would affect others still reviewing the material. How will I know whether or not my classmates are feeling the same way I had felt? I certainly don’t want to cause stress for any of my friends. Cue: continuous overthinking!

*** fast forward two weeks ***

After finishing the first wave of midterms, I wish I could have told myself to stop worrying and letting comparisons occupy my thoughts. Just because I couldn’t recite the coagulation cascade on that specific night does NOT mean I will never be able to! After going over the material a few more times, I felt like I could teach it to my dog if I wanted to (well not really, but shoutout to my adorable Shih Tzu, Kiwi, back at home in Maryland).

My point is everyone studies with different techniques and at different paces. Whether it’s a full sprint or a comfortable jog, in groups of 4 or as a recluse at home, no two of us will reach the finish line in the same way, but we will ALL get there eventually. These differences make us unique and are our strengths when we come together to collaborate. There is a collaborative culture within my class and throughout the entire college of optometry, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Studying in groups does have its benefits, but if you find it more stressful than helpful, try minimizing the group size to just 1-2 others, or don’t force it all! We are all susceptible to our minds playing mean tricks on our mental well-being. While none of my classmates have ever made school feel like a competition, I still fell victim to self-doubt. It is important to not let social comparisons distract us from what make us really unique, and this is applicable in all facets of life. For the next round of midterms, I will be more cognizant of this – so that I will stop feeling down on myself every time I don’t remember something and just start studying (preferably earlier this time around)!

First Day of Class Jitters

The night before my first day of optometry school…

All summer I have been looking forward to this date, and now that it is finally here, the feelings I have are very back and forth. Similar to waves crashing into a shore and retreating back into the ocean, maybe even more intense. It feels familiar, as this is my 5th “first day of school” at THE Ohio State University, but still foreign to me since I have no idea what to expect in the life of a graduate student. I’m excited to meet all my classmates and learn from the excellent faculty, but still nervous about the workload and how it’ll affect my mental health (despite how many times I tell myself I AM CAPABLE). I am eager and hungry to become the best optometrist I can be, yet full from the falafel I just had for dinner (oops not related, but still true). 

12 hours later…

I’ve just finished my first couple lectures. I have been very captivated with Dr. Chandler’s overview of ocular anatomy, and enjoyed getting to know more about Dean Zadnik and how she will prepare us for our careers. A comforting feeling is that I am going through this with everyone else. We are all nervous and unsure of what to expect, but that’s okay. Today I am only feeling confident that I will succeed, and with the help of the excellent faculty, student advisors, and my fellow classmates, I know I will be able to get through this. Just like the peaks and troughs of ocean waves, there will be many highs and lows throughout the semester and it’ll be on me to manage them appropriately. But for now, I’m gonna keep on riding the peak of this wave for the rest of the day (and more..)

To be continued..