Hello friends! I hope that you are all doing well.
These past several months have certainly been a whirlwind of emotions—anxiety about the world’s health and safety amidst the pandemic, anger about social injustice in the US and the need for change, uncertainty about what the rest of my education will be like, and holding onto hope for a stronger, healthier, and more just community in the future.
Optometry school certainly looks a lot different now than it did back at the start of 2020. Right after spring break in March, the University as a whole switched to virtual distance learning instead of in-person classes. My classmates and I finished up our second year didactic courses through zoom and pre-recorded asynchronous lectures online, and our second year clinics were put on hold. We enjoyed a brief but much-needed two week break at the start of May once second year finals ended, and then dove into a full load of summer semester virtual courses (as third years now!! where has the time gone??). In mid June, the College of Optometry got permission to safely resume clinic operations (with many new PPE, disinfecting, and social distancing protocols) and the class of 2022 returned to Columbus. By the end of June, everyone in my class had passed our final clinical proficiency exam and we performed our first eye exams on public patients as Opt3s.
Somehow it is already the end of July, and we are finishing up the final week and a half of summer semester courses and gearing up for our final exams. I am heartbroken that the remainder of my third year courses will be online, and I truly miss seeing all of my classmates together in one place every day. Despite that, I am incredibly grateful that we are able to continue with clinic and labs in person and that we are still moving forward in our journey to become eye doctors! There are definitely some perks to online learning that are worth mentioning though, such as it being socially acceptable to wear my PJs for morning exams and unlimited tea/snack access only a few steps away (@Goldfish I love you, please sponsor me).
As final exams and the general end-of-the-semester chaos looms over me, I am reminded of all that I have learned this semester—both about eyes and about life. I learned how deeply I love being able to go to the library, and I can only imagine how exciting it will be to return to club Prior someday (no offense to my cozy apartment desk though, I couldn’t imagine spending the majority of my waking hours anywhere else). I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in the college’s most recent virtual book club focused on topics of diversity and inclusion; it gave me so much food for thought and important insights to different perspectives and experiences to say the very least. I have learned that with great flexibility/customizability of my daily schedule comes responsibility, and that creating a steady routine for myself makes a huge difference. Finally, I have learned to more deeply enjoy and appreciate the simpler things in life. My picnic blanket has gotten record use and holds the fondest memories of time well spent with friends this summer. I have newfound appreciation for just how refreshing walks through the neighborhood and along the Olentangy Trail can be. My newly acquired houseplant livens up my room and brings me so much joy each day. Being more intentional in setting aside time to keep in touch with friends and family over video calls has made all the difference in the world in reminding me that even while we are physically apart, we are still connected to one another and can get through this together.
To the class of 2022: I know that times are tough, but we are doing the best we can and have to remember to give grace to ourselves and each other. We’ve made it past the halfway point of optometry school, and I know we can keep pushing forward and finish stronger than ever!