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Pre-ICO Adventures: A Guide to Your Last Summer before Optometry School

Roughly two months ago, I graduated from UMass Amherst (go Minutemen!) completing one chapter of my life. In roughly a month and a half, I will be flying (yes, flying, not driving—AKA I need to rethink my packing situation) to Chicago to begin the next chapter. In between these two events, I have a few summer months. Naturally, I have been determined to make them memorable.

One thing to note about me is that I am a very active person. Although many people have told me I should just relax all summer, I would much rather find a balance between relaxation and keeping myself busy. If you are similar in this way, then I hope my summer plans can spark some ideas for you.

My active personality is why I wanted to spend part of my summer traveling and part of my summer hard at work (40 hour weeks + a commute is fun right?) doing something I love where I would continue to learn and grow. Because I am from the greater Boston area (and because I love the city), I wanted to spend the summer working in downtown Boston. Through a good friend (he is actually going to NECO in the fall!), I found two summer positions that fit exactly what I wanted. So, now I am currently embracing my newly completed degree in biology and working as a summer research intern for a specialized hospital in the area, as well as working at a center for the blind and visually impaired. Both positions have taught and continue to teach me so much!

My research is all biomedically-based and focuses on developing treatments for retinal diseases. I work in a building where everyone is interested in vision and vision care. My excitement about this ensures me that I am taking the correct career path. In addition to this, through my position at the center for the blind, I am working with people who are impacted by the diseases I am learning about through my research. At this center, I get to see first-hand how someone’s life is completely changed through their loss of vision. Each position continues to inspire me and encourage my passion for this field.                                                  


Now although I am hard at work in Boston, don’t think I have forgotten to set aside some time for fun. I have been striving to fulfill the promise I made to myself that I will plan some fun trips this summer. Following graduation, I took a trip to Walt Disney World. While I know that many people usually do the whole Eurotrip thing (still on my bucket list!) I decided to embrace some childhood memories and go with one of my best friends  to Disney and take hold of the magic this destination creates (it really is magical…seriously.)

As a lover of thrill rides and a big fan of some Disney classics, this trip was a blast! I mean, come on, you’re never too old for Mickey Mouse. If you agree with these concepts and think a Disney trip may be in your future, I do recommend doing some research ahead of time to learn about fun tips and ways to avoid too many lines. I also highly recommend avoiding the peak summer months (we went in May) because at these months the temperature and the crowds are both at their peak.




Heading towards the middle of summer, I decided to take my next vacation in Puerto Rico. This was a good idea if I do say so, because not only is Puerto Rico relatively inexpensive, but also you are not required to have a passport as a U.S. citizen. In Puerto Rico I soaked up some sun on the Caribbean beaches and essentially auditioned for the next Jurassic World movie with a trek through tropical rainforests. …I didn’t actually audition for anything, it just felt as though a Velociraptor was going to jump at me from behind the tropic forest every turn I took. I also explored Puerto Rican history in Old San Juan. The trip was something amazing and I highly recommend stepping outside the tourism bubble and getting to know some of the local secrets (tasting mufungo is a must, and Los YeYos is a great whole-in-the-wall place in Old San Juan to do that).




So, as I continue to grow this summer through my research, aid of the blind, life in Boston, and attempts at travel, I feel as though I will be ready to embrace the change my next chapter at ICO will bring. I have been setting aside some much needed time to begin packing, pouring over the ICO website, and occasionally Google-searching things to do in Chicago, BUT let’s not forget I still have a little over a month of summer left and the adventures are far from over.

See you soon, Chicago.

Xoxo- Jess Capri 😉


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