As the cold sets in and people start walking around in ridiculously puffy outfits, I’m beginning to miss the West Coast. Boston does a great job of getting into the festive spirit with Christmas lights lining Newbury Street and Commonwealth Avenue and NECO itself isn’t too shabby either with its fall pumpkins laid out in the rotunda and student council events such as, “Christmas movie and cookie decorating” night. Sometimes when I leave the school at night after a long day, I can smell burning firewood from somewhere in the Back Bay neighborhood and a swarm of nostalgia washes over me as I walk towards the T-stop to head home. It’s in those small little Boston moments that I miss my family, my California friends and mundane things like driving a car. Every year for as long as I can remember, I have been able to drive home to my mom and allow her to cook me an overwhelming amount of food not suitable for the healthy diet of two women and have her scold me about staying out too late with friends (I typically get the call around 11pm). This is the first year that we spent apart and I really missed all the little family moments that typically go hand-in-hand with family reunions.
However, I wanted to say that my new NECO family really made the holidays as best as it could be! A group of us that were orphaned here in Boston got together for a “Friendsgiving” potluck and it was wonderful and delicious and fattening to say the least. Long gone are the days of minuscule plates of cookies and chips! We feast in style at graduate school potlucks! The night was filled with fun conversation, weird moments that will morph into lasting memories, and a plethora of food consumed entirely to its core. We had two turkeys, one that was the real bird and the other made delicately by fruit…both amazingly scrumptious! It’s at these events that I continue to be amazed by the different skills and hobbies that my classmates have aside from our mutual aspirations to become optometrists. It’s really fascinating to know one person that does ballroom dancing, another that’s an avid ping-pong player since childhood, multiple bilingual (and even trilingual!) people, and even a few yarn-enthusiasts! I appreciate that NECO has provided a melting pot of students that are each well-rounded in their own way, but all still reaching towards the same goal. So even though there are over 130 of us, I think OD 2017 is pretty amazing in our own right!
On a clinical note, this month I got to step out to my first SVOSH club (Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity) screening with Dr. Kristin White in Waltham, MA. It was the week after our screening proficiencies and I went into the event with my head held high and beaming with confidence. However, serving the under-served proved to be very different than performing tasks on your healthy and knowledgeable classmates. As most of my previous screenings were with squirmy young children, I was certain that working with adults would be easier, but it definitely had its own challenges and it was humbling to be brought into “reality.” Some of these low income families had not had an eye exam or even a basic health check in years and some spoke very little English and had minimal medical history to provide. We were able to set up a basic screening process and refer a few patients to a local optometrist for a full evaluation. It was a really great feeling to be able to contribute to the community outside of our school-assigned screenings and working with Dr. White and two other upper year students was an excellent learning experience for me.
I have many other classmates that have participated in other screening and volunteering activities through other clubs and have all really enjoyed their experience. I respect that for such a compact school, NECO and its respective student clubs plan events involving the surrounding community to encourage not only early exposure, but also to try and make an impact. I look forward to finals being over (and hoping I survive the process) and my visit home with my family and friends and the eventual time we return to NECO and get our hands “dirty” next semester! I’m throwing in a few pictures from Friendsgiving and my week as a dog sitter to the cutest pup, and likely OD 2017 mascot, Watson