Bonjour, Hello, Goeie dag, Nihao, Privet,  Salam, and Shalom!  All of these greetings reflect the countries of origin of the Advanced Standing International Program (ASIP) and the Accelerated Optometric Degree Program (AODP) class of 2014. We are a cohort of 9 students, which is actually considered a large group considering last year there were only 3 ASIP students.  An additional 4 students comprise the AODP class of 2014.

The AODPs actually began their program in February 2012 and the ASIPs, having had previous optometric experience, joined them in May 2012.  Collectively we traveled many air miles to make a new home in Boston, all with the same goal, which is to complete the Doctorate of Optometry in 2 years!  Yes, this is a rather ambitious goal, but students in previous years have managed and so shall we.  No doubt there will be a few moans and groans along the way, but ultimately it is a goal worth aspiring to.

So, a bit about my journey to Boston. I have been fortunate to have lived in and traveled to many countries.  My last residence in England was in Milton Keynes. For British standards, it is considered a modern town, which is located approximately 50 miles northwest of London.  After living in England for 14 years, when I came to Boston I was pleasantly surprised to see an American city with some European character and charm.  Boston in my eyes is a good mix of both lands.

I made my move to Boston in May 2012.  The city had a very serene atmosphere, given the mass exodus of students for the summer holiday.  I was fortunate to find a great place to live in the Back Bay within walking distance to NECO.  For those of you who are still sorting out accommodation, I would strongly advise trying to stay as close to the school as possible.  Boston is a relatively small city, but somehow instead of shortening the journey, it becomes drawn out if you take public transport.  Having said that, Boston is a very walkable city and you will be surprised at how much further and faster you can get places on foot than on some of the public transportation links.

I have made a nest for myself in Boston and feel quite privileged to call it home for now.  What I mean by a ‘nest’ is that during my first few weeks here I made a conscious effort to orient myself to the city and get ready for the intense semester that lay ahead.  I must mention that during our orientation at NECO, we were introduced to things beyond courses, exams, and clinic schedules. I was impressed how the orientation team went to the trouble of organizing an introductory packet to Boston.  This gave me the idea to explore the city from a student’s point of view.  One of the first things I set out to determine was where the hot spots were to study.  Apart from numerous libraries located around Boston, there are a great number of coffee houses that are welcoming to students who want to find a cosy spot to study.  I also looked into things like where to go for visits to the doctor, dentist, hair salon, and bank.  I surely cannot forget to mention to scope out the go to place for stationary such as highlighters, folders, multi-colored sticky tabs (which happen to be my number 1 favorite item) and of course pencils to use during the many scantron tests you will be faced with. Also consider where is the best place to buy certain groceries, because if you are a foodie like me, not all bread is created equal.

These are just a few things I found useful to do during my first days in Boston.  Making a new home anywhere requires exploration of your surroundings. With that in mind, I wholeheartedly encourage you to hit the streets of Boston and find all the things that will help you make your nest here!