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  • Rachel Shackelford

My First Nights in the RC

When I began touring optometry schools, I was adamant that I did NOT want to live on campus through professional school. I lived in the dorms all four years of undergrad, and I was sick of all the rules, roommate drama, and shared bathrooms. When I visited ICO, however, my thoughts on the topic slowly began to change.

The students I met told me that living in the Residential Complex (RC to those at ICO) was not only a great way for them to have a comfortable, affordable place to live in Chicago, but that it also helped them truly connect with their classmates. I also started to see the value in living literally across the street from classes.

Over the summer, I had mixed emotions about the move. Every day was a flip-flop between nerves about moving so far from home and excitement about living with so many of my classmates. This blog will give a brief summary of what my Orientation week was like at ICO and how living in the RC made an impact on the experience.


Move-In day was really great! Every time I moved into my dorm in undergrad, there was always a point about an hour in where I was frustrated that nothing was organized and I wanted to give up. At ICO, though, things went really smoothly. Many Orientation leaders and RAs were available to help me cart my things up to the 3rd floor, so after just minutes, my parents' minivan was fully unpacked! My mom and I were somehow able to rearrange all the furniture in the room, unpack, organize, and decorate it in around two hours.

I took a few prop photos with some new friends in the RC lobby during the welcome party!

After a quick goodbye lunch with my family, I had a little time to relax and tie up some loose ends around my room before meeting my neighbors at RC Orientation. From there, my suite-mate and I walked to the courtyard of the RC to join our class for a welcome dinner/hang out. We ate, drank, and played games. I met tons of people from all over whose names I immediately forgot. The energy was so high! I felt comforted knowing this is the environment that will surround me for the upcoming years.

The next two days were long ones, filled with speakers and sessions. The other first years and I learned what it takes to be an optometry student at ICO. The sessions were draining, but it was nice to be able to walk across the street to the RC to relax at the end of the day. The RC has many different social areas to utilize. Since the weather was so nice during Orientation, many of us chose the third-floor patio to get to know each other that week. Each night, first years would filter in and out. Groups would change as we all spent hours developing the connections that will make the next months of studying more bearable.

Move-In and Orientation weekend were stressful experiences to undertake. Still, the fun that I have had with my classmates in the RC has me hopeful. I think optometry school will include enough fun times to combat the stress of being a doctoral student.


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