NECO Through the Past Few Years

As I sit back and reflect upon my 4 years at NECO, I can’t believe how much it has changed me. Not only as a clinician, but as a person in general. When I first began, I had just graduated college. I thought I knew everything, but that mindset quickly changed.
As a first year, I learned very fast that the amount of studying I did in undergrad was not enough for optometry school. Hour long study sessions from undergrad turned into 4 hour long study sessions in optometry school. Short lab assignments from undergrad became much longer. However, I was also learning about optometry, a career that I was passionate about and more interested in.

Second year brought increased clinical responsibility. Not only was I studying for my classes, but now I was interacting directly with patients, often times in a 1 on 1 setting. The way I interacted with people was changing. At first, my interactions were robotic. I was basically spewing back what I had learned in class. I quickly learned that I needed to ask questions of patients in different ways, and that sometimes by having just a regular conversation with the patient, you can get many of the answers that you are looking for.

With third year came the inevitable: boards. While I had been studying throughout my time at NECO, this was a whole different beast. Now I was studying for a test that was on practically everything I had learned in the past 3 years. The aforementioned 4 hour long study sessions turned into full day study sessions. This was another hurdle to get past but I told myself that if I put the time in, it would all pay off. Of course, this was on top of the regular course load and clinical load, which had increased since second year.

Finally I was a fourth year! The day I had been waiting for since starting optometry school. I remember during first year, looking at the fourth years in awe. After all, they knew so much and were about to become doctors. Everyone told me that fourth year would fly by. I didn’t believe them, but every rotation this year has gone faster than the last one. I have been given great opportunities this year. First, I rotated through the VA.  Then I had low vision and pediatrics, then my experiences in Alaska before returning to Boston for my community health rotation. All of these clinics have exposed me to different aspects of the practice of optometry, and I have learned unique things at each of them.

If I had any advice to give to incoming students, it would be to take advantage of the time you have in school. Take the opportunity to learn as much as you can, ask questions, and enjoy your experience as a student. There are countless opportunities available to you that will not be available after graduation, so make the best of it. If you are interested in an opportunity, go for it. I promise you won’t regret it.

The Apartment Hunt

When I first moved to Boston, I remember being unsure of how it would be to live in this city. I did not know where to live, how much to expect to pay, and how the transportation worked, so I thought I would dedicate this blog to that.

Apartment hunting was nerve wracking to say the least. I knew I had to find a place to live in, in just 1 weekend, which I had to be happy in for a year. I had 2 days to look and sign a lease. So I decided to live in Brighton. After all, it was only 3 miles away from school and the T was a block away from my apartment. Not only that, but my rent was over $200 cheaper per month than anything I could find in the Back Bay. Now, don’t get me wrong, the area of Brighton I lived in was very nice, but I realized quickly that the T was not the way I wanted to be getting to school every day for 8 AM labs. While my friends were rolling out of bed and leaving their apartments at 7:55, I had to be out my door at 7:00 or run the risk of being late to class.

Also, going out in the evenings and on weekends was a challenge. It would take me 45 minutes to an hour to get to a friend’s apartment, if they lived near school. Then, the T would close pretty early and I would be forced to either stay at that friend’s place or take a not-so-cheap taxi back home to my apartment. Studying was also difficult if I wanted to go to school, since it added 2 hours to my day on a weekend.

Second year I moved to the Back Bay. Here, I was paying $1200 for a studio apartment, but at least I was able to get an apartment slightly larger than the one I had in Brighton. I was living 3 blocks away from school, which was very convenient. I lived in this place for 2 years. Especially as midterms and finals came around, it was the perfect location for studying at home, school, or a variety of coffee shops and areas in the Prudential Building. However, like I said the rent was much higher. Also, as I got a car in third year, parking was much more difficult in the Back Bay. Sometimes I would drive around for up to an hour trying to find a parking space, even with my resident permit. I enjoyed the ability to spend more time with friends, get to school easier, and also enjoy the night life in Boston easier.
I would recommend to any student who is entering their first year of optometry school at NECO to live within close walking distance to the school. It certainly makes getting to school more convenient, as well as socializing and having more of a life outside of school. In my opinion, it is well worth the extra money that is spent.