My orientation didn’t consist of name games and fun group activities: it was actually orientation for the profession of optometry. The very first day of the 3-day-long program, we were presented with a layout of our next four years. There they were: each year planned out and shown to us like a simple schedule. WTF. Right before my eyes was a four-year timeline. Non-negotiable. All ending with graduation. But once I started getting excited about graduation day, I was brought back to the present by the daunting process that would lead me to that day. And I hadn’t even begun that process yet. We talked about extracurricular activities like this was college, learning about the various clubs we could get involved with. We talked about resources on campus, reminding us that yes, there will be a copious amount of studying. We touched on ethics, brushed over research opportunities, and even delved into alumni relations (again, what a tease). The seriousness was punctuated by a day of outdoor activities, but by the end of it all, I was feeling freaking terrified and questioning my decisions. This was not going to be an easy journey, oh boy did they emphasize that. And they didn’t even make the fun parts fun enough to balance out the intimidation. But maybe that’s what grad school is all about. This IS a professional school, not college, not camp, not some random academic program. Optometry school is a professional program where students become healthcare providers, and regular people become doctors of optometry. I came into orientation with the mindset that it was going to be fun and welcoming and lighthearted. In reality, it was serious and dignified and extremely heavy, which made me nervous about my approach to these next four years.
I was planning to study hard, but not so hard that I didn’t have a life and was stressed all the time. I was planning to stay true to myself and my interests and not have to sacrifice much time dedicated to pursing those interests. I was planning to get close with my class as well with other students on the graduate campus. And although orientation made it seem like all of my plans were going to be unrealistic and impossible to achieve, I say CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.
Each person is going to go through school differently. He/she is going to take away something different from the experience, and he/she is going to contribute a unique amount of time and effort. I’ve never been one to follow the rules set out for me or do things the way the majority is doing them. If I’m going through with this, I’m going to do it my way.