SUMMER TIME PARTYING, HOORAH!
Summer time has been fun, relaxing, and still slightly tiring. No matter how hard I try to spend it leisurely, I find myself spending hours scoping the internet and checking out what’s happening in Boston and its neighboring cities and pouring over the different opportunities to explore. Although there are changes ahead, the summer between your first year and your second year has been notorious for being your “last ounce of freedom” and I plan to spend it well! It’s my great chance to explore and do some cool Boston things (finally!) and since I was fortunate enough to get a few jobs here on campus, I’ll still be making a bit of money to make up for my spending.
My first act of freedom was to re-walk to 2.5 miles of U.S. history along the Freedom Trail here in Boston. If you’re new in town, going to come into town, or are just kind of a history buff, I highly recommend it! It can be completely self-guided because you literally just follow the red paint along paved roads beginning near Boston Commons or you can pay someone to be dressed up in colonial outfits and have an equally exciting experience. I chose the free-route and enjoyed a ridiculously lovely Boston day in the sun and the whole afternoon basically came down to reading about history…and eating. Oysters, cannoli pastries, lobster rolls and “chawdah” around the North End and Faneuil Hall, food trucks in the South Washington District, your adventure is whatever you make of it!
My second act of freedom was an impromptu hike with visiting friends from California up to New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. Our goal was the summit of Mt. Washington, but the crazy weather made it impossible (although in the end “technically” possible, what is WITH East Coast weather?!?!?). We camped out in Gorham, a short 9 miles north of Pinkham Notch at the base of Mt. Washington. Many trails were still covered by snow or too slippery for the average Joe so we went the route of Tuckerman Ravine where famed “extreme-skiing/boarding” happens annually.
It was news to me, but apparently pioneered by Harvard graduates, Tuckerman Ravine is one of the few places that offer spring snow sports due to its winter conditions that last sometimes through June. What’s actually CRAZY about the whole ordeal is that these extreme sports enthusiasts must first hike up 2.4 miles, while increasing over 2000ft in elevation, to reach the base of the ravine bowl. From there there will be a change of shoes and switching of gears and it is another God-knows-how-long up to the top of the ravine (because I did not actually hike up) before you can skii/snowboard down the ravine…only to make the hike up again because there are no electronic lifts of any kind.
Hopefully I’ll be able to plan another trip this summer to summit Mt. Washington, but for now here are some pictures of the glory I experienced. It was truly amazing to see such enthusiasts completely in their element and how much respect they have for the mountain that has claimed a few lives over the years as well. Through the school year, my butt is basically permanently molded to the fabrics of our lecture hall chairs, so any chance to breathe some fresh air and get my legs moving is a great day! How do you guys keep active?
From there, my other acts of freedom have been more local and calm. I’ve checked out both famed brewery tours here in Boston, Harpoon ($5 admission with a bar and delicious pretzels) and Sam Adams (Free! But no place to “hangout” pre/post tour). I’ve biked from Brookline to Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum, which holds some of the best views of the Boston skyline from atop its hill, and even made a trip out to the Museum of Science.
And while it sounds like a lot has happened during my off time, NECO has been equally busy! I work in about 3-4 different departments here at the college to try and accumulate as much funds as possible and keep my optometry knowledge fresh. I don’t mind the hours because they are flexible and it’s a great time to get to know some of the faculty and students when the school is in its calm.
I got my first glimpse of the class of 2018 at the Housing Fair BBQ this past weekend, where over 70 students of the incoming class came to hunt for the perfect apartment as well as mingle with their future colleagues. It was a strange flashback to my own housing fair last year, with the exception that I ended up running around Boston with my realtor in the rain because the aforementioned whacked out East Coast weather. It felt a little surreal to look at the incoming class and realize how far I’ve come and how the cycle continues long after we’re gone. It makes you think a little bit and actively encourages you to cherish your surroundings and all the colleagues and professors who you only have a limited time with.
Another event I was happy to have participated in was the Massachusetts Special Olympics, where we screened over 100 participants and their family and friends. Led by Dr. Stacy Lyons and Dr. Barry Kran from NECO, the MCPHS optometry program partnered with us to bring vision screening to a new level. I had volunteered for the Special Olympics during undergrad in California, but this was my first experience volunteering as a member of the medical team and it felt great!
We had a lot of participants who had trouble verbalizing what they could see and others who had various levels of tropias and even a few family members who hadn’t been to an eye care professional in over 5 years. Over all, there was a lot of diversity, which gave students a chance to practice different skill levels and alternatives to our usual screening methods. One of the basic concepts I found challenging was simply being able to maintain a patient’s interest. These athletes came from all over the U.S. and had such high energy and were so excited for the weekend’s events that often times they roped you into the excitement and you found yourself taking almost 20 minutes doing procedures that normally would take only 10 minutes. The rewards of working this event were high, though. We got to meet some of our fellow neighbors at MCPHS and got to give back to the community while still challenging and growing in our own scope of practice. I’ll definitely be looking out for this event again next year!
As we roll into June, I’ve still got plenty penciled into my calender. I’m helping out a few clinical labs to keep my optometric knowledge sharp and prepared for second year, but I also have a few Boston events I’m looking forward to, including the infamous July 4th Boston Pops Fireworks, ranked as one of the country’s BEST fireworks! What are your summer plans, friends? If you’ve got good ideas, please share!!