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3241 S. Michigan Ave.

Chicago, IL 60616

312-949-7409

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  • Alek

Cheers to New Beginnings!

As I start my first week of optometry school, I can’t explain the range of mixed emotions I am feeling. As excited as I am to begin this journey, I also feel scared, anxious and overwhelmed. It was only 8 months ago that I got that letter of admission to attend ICO. Time has flown! Since then, I have graduated from university, moved back to my hometown, and worked a full-time job, all while getting ready for the big move to Chicago.


As a Canadian student, moving to the US seemed like a very daunting task with a bunch of moving parts, such as VISAs, co-signers, health insurance, and phone plans. However, when it got time to completing all these tasks, it wasn’t very challenging at all. The great thing about ICO is that there is a large Canadian presence. It wasn’t very difficult to find guidance from upper-year classmates. Additionally, the staff at ICO were extremely helpful in the process by answering emails, keeping me up to date with deadlines, and referring me to resources.


During my undergraduate experience, my campus was only one hour away from home. So, I had the opportunity to come back to my family every two weeks. I was also was privileged enough to go to university with some of my closest high school friends; I was entrenched in my little comfort bubble. I will now be moving to another country completely by myself and stepping way out of my comfort zone. Luckily for me, this offers an opportunity for growth and self-discovery in the beautiful city of Chicago! Back when I had my interview at ICO, Chicago instantly felt like home. It was very much a lively city. Everyone was friendly and welcoming. Now, it seems a lot less scary being away from home, seeing so many familiar faces and knowing the diversity that Chicago has to offer.


In preparation for this big move, I have been doing a ton of disposing, re-organizing, and packing. One of the biggest mistakes I made in undergrad was packing everything I owned and bringing it with me because it made moving out at the end of the year a huge hassle. This time around, I am being mindful of the fact that everything that I take on this 8-hour drive to Chicago will also have to come back with me next summer. I am packing my essentials while leaving room for whatever I end up purchasing during my time there.


This move is a huge stepping stone in my journey of personal development and independence. As excited as I am about pursuing my dream career, I am also very scared. However, I keep reminding myself that at the other end of fear is growth. I can’t wait to embark on this journey with my fellow classmates and share how it goes with you!


-Alek