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First Steps Towards Becoming an OD1

Hannah sitting with luggage in back of car

Just this past May, I was driving away from the last dorm I’d ever call home. It was on the day of my graduation from Boston College (BC), a place where I had found my niche and formed meaningful relationships. After a long day of commencement ceremonies, my status at BC quickly changed from student to alumnus. I remember wondering to myself, “What now??”

Fast-forward three months later to today. It’s the day before I once again make the 6-hour drive from my hometown in upstate New York to Boston! While many of my NECO classmates will be moving to a city they have only visited once or twice or a handful of times before, I have been lucky enough to call Boston home for the past four years! For this reason however, I was initially hesitant about applying to New England College of Optometry. I wondered if it would be the right choice to stay in the same city for another four years. But, my instinct told me that life in Boston as a graduate student would be different.

Now that all of the shifting factors associated with becoming an OD1 student are much more of a tangible reality with move-in day and orientation being so close, I am so relieved that I listened to my instinct! For one thing, I was able to set up my new NECO email account (goodbye,!) and I even got to take a look at my Optics and Cell Biology course syllabi on the NECO portal today! Although, if I’m being completely honest, looking at midterm and final exam dates gave me a crude reminder that while most of my newly-employed friends from college will never have to fill in the bubbles of a scantron sheet again, I will probably be perfecting my bubbling skills for a few more years.

Moving to back to Boston also means moving into a new apartment with my two roommates. I living with two other first year NECO students.  We connected by using the NECO Class of 2020 Facebook group and talked to each other for about a week before deciding to live together! My roommates and I were really fortunate to find our ideal apartment just a 4-minute walk down the street from school. I am so happy that my roommates and I were on the same page about apartment hunting well before NECO’s housing fair in June!

Dozens of realtor phone calls and four apartment rental apps (I would recommend Zillow) later, I signed my first ever apartment lease! Because we were able to secure the apartment in May, we were able to adventure through Boston together and squeeze in lots of time for roommate bonding during the weekend of the housing fair. In addition, meeting our classmates at the fair was far less nerve wrecking because we didn’t have the pressure to speed-date our classmates to find potential roommate matches!

Both of my roommates moved in a couple days ago, so I can’t wait to officially be living with them! I finished packing yesterday, and my suitcases and boxes are now waiting to be loaded into our SUV! My parents saw how much stuff I had packed and were pretty shocked... They keep asking how my classmates from far-away states or Canada are moving with just two suitcases on the plane… I’m still pretty perplexed by this too!

Despite my excitement about starting at NECO, my mind periodically becomes flooded with some nervousness and hesitation. What will my class schedule look like? Will I be able to make friends? Where will I sit in class? What’s the best place to study? What will the Welcome Back BBQ be like? Should I find a job? How many hours will I need to put into studying? Will I know what to cook for lunch and dinner? Will I even have time to go to the grocery store? Even though these questions have yet to be answered (and may seem ridiculous to me in a few weeks), I firmly believe that a little bit of uncertainty is the best way to keep myself on my toes!

It’s strange to think that by the time my next blog post is published, I will already be one month into my first year. Hopefully by then, I will have found a rhythm to my daily schedule, have figured out the best running route on the Charles, and have found a note-taking system that works best with lectures. Stay tuned!

Hannah is a second year student who is originally from Rochester, NY. She is a 2016 graduate of Boston College, where she studied Behavioral Neuroscience and minored in Medical Humanities. Some of her most formative experiences at BC include volunteering weekly at a children’s hospital, traveling to Nicaragua on a service and cultural immersion trip, and studying the neurobiology of eating and eating disorders through an undergraduate research fellowship. Hannah's decision to pursue optometry wasn’t completely made until the summer before her senior year at BC. Despite this relatively late start, she believes that her Jesuit education at BC has cultivated a deep sense of social responsibility to serve communities as an optometrist, perhaps by participating in vision science research adapted towards treatments for rare ocular conditions or by providing basic eye exams to underprivileged communities in the US and Latin America. She is thrilled to be spending another 4 years in the historically rich city of Boston, but this time, as a graduate student and living in the heart of Boston with 2 other roommates! She cannot wait to see where the next four years at NECO will lead her, as well as her classmates in the class of 2020!