When you’re accepted to ICO, the question of whether or not to live in the Residential Complex–the RC–comes up. There are numerous benefits to living in the RC, and there are many reasons why one would choose not to. At this point, I myself am very glad that I opted to live there!
Living in the RC is a very unique experience and I would encourage all new students to partake in this experience to enjoy the benefits of living right across the street from school. I think it’s an especially great experience for first years. The convenience of having the college and all of its amenities right next door is absolutely invaluable; in your first year of optometry school when you are extremely busy (you can’t imagine how busy you will be) you will have the fitness center, cafeteria, library and countless cozy study areas just two minutes away. Additionally, there are many upperclassmen willing to lend an ear to help you get through the stressful times, or to simply provide tutoring or test preparation advice.
For me, coming from Canada and never having been away from home, it was nice to know that I had a place to live already lined up before getting here. I can’t imagine how stressful it would have been knowing that I still had to find an acceptable place to live before classes started. This really helped with adapting to life in a completely new city, adjusting to optometry school expectations, and meeting and forming friendships with many, many new people.
The RC is equipped with a convenient laundry facility, meeting rooms, and study rooms and lounges on each floor. The lounges are a great place to watch TV, play video games, hang out with friends or just study–you can often find classmates huddled together, studying for the same big exam. And even if they don’t communicate with each other, you’re still sharing the same experience, and in someway it provides some sort of silent solidarity.
Prior to the start of classes, there are numerous events planned as part of orientation, and one of the most important things about orientation is getting to know your class. The majority of your new classmates–even people from the Chicago area–will be staying in the RC, which makes it a lot more convenient to get to know your new classmates. It’s really important to get to know your class in the first few weeks–you’ll be spending the next four years with the same 160 or so people.
The RC coordinators also plans fun events throughout the year. To date, we’ve had events such as a trip to Broadway shows like The Book of Mormon and Wicked, an Amazing Race-style scavenger across downtown Chicago, a Labour Day barbecue, and a few trips to see some of Chicago’s sports teams, including the White Sox (located only a mile away!) and the Bulls. Now that it’s the holiday season, there’s an RC Christmas dinner planned, and we just finished the annual Holiday Door Decorating contest–below are the top three winners! This was a really fun event and it was nice to see all the creative ideas everyone came up with.
Most students living in the RC are automatically signed up for the board plan, which provides breakfast, lunch and dinner during the week, and brunch on weekends. It’s extremely convenient to be able to walk over the cafeteria whenever hunger strikes and have a nice hot meal in an instant. Not only that, but you never have to wash dishes–which really helps when you’re crunched for time and still have lots to do before tomorrow’s practical.
In the spring preceding your first year, you’ll be assigned a room in the RC. Prior to room (and roommate) assignments, it’s necessary to complete the “roommate matching questionnaire,” which has a plethora questions addressing everything from cleanliness levels to study and sleep schedules. The roommate matching team puts a lot of time into matching and from my personal experience, they do an excellent job. When completing the application, you have a choice of a single room (by yourself) or a double (with roommates). I like sharing space with a roommate because I know she’ll wake me up for my 8 a.m. exam in case my alarm doesn’t go off or I’ve hit snooze one too many times!