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  • Alek

Halfway through First Quarter at ICO!

I am now almost half-way through my first quarter here at ICO and it has felt like a roller coaster with many highs and lows. The first thing that immediately stood out to me was the academic pace here. ICO is well-known for its rigorous quarter-based system, but I didn’t really understand how difficult it could be until experiencing it firsthand. Having 2 exams a week on top of classes, labs, and assignments is tough. It definitely tests your endurance and perseverance. While it has been challenging, I feel like this system has already allowed me to adopt a growth mindset and personally develop.


One important thing I learned is to take time away from studying to do whatever keeps you sane! Whether it’s going to the gym or heading off campus to explore the city, there are many options to get your mind off of studying. For me, I realized that the key to my productivity is getting active first thing in the morning. ICO’s on-campus Fitness Center makes it very easy to get to the gym every morning. Getting that early exercise improves my mood throughout the day and allows me to stay more attentive in class. My friends and I also decided that it is critical for us to get away from campus at least once a week. We recently discovered a beach very close to ICO that has become our new favorite spot off-campus!


Another strategy that has helped me tremendously over the past couple of weeks is practicing gratitude. Personally speaking, after the first two weeks, I realized I was constantly stressed and anxious with the amount of work I had to do. However, I took a second to reflect and realize how privileged I am to even be attending optometry school. I have now made it a routine to take a few minutes every day to remember how lucky I am and acknowledge all the things I am grateful for in my life. Even when I’m super stressed, I take a few minutes to do this and it improves my outlook significantly.


Everyone I’ve met at ICO so far, from colleagues to upper-year students and staff, has made my transition into grad school very smooth. I’ve been very lucky to find a group of friends that are supportive and encouraging. With varying personalities, we all seem to motivate each other in our own unique way... with a common goal of getting to Friday every week!


For all you incoming students ICO students, don’t be scared to ask for tips and advice from upper-year students. Everyone at ICO is very friendly and here to help. I have gotten many great strategies from colleagues who are further along in the program.


So far, my experience at ICO has been great. I have learned a lot, not only academically, but about myself, as well! I am looking forward to seeing what the next few months have in store for me. Stay tuned!


-Alek


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