Getting through the first term

Heather Stewart

Faculty: Science & Technology
Course: BOptom (Hons) Optometry
Category: Vision and hearing sciences

12 December 2014

If you’re reading this then you’re still alive and you made it through the first weeks of term, and however you managed it – coffee, aspirin, a moderately active healthy lifestyle, congrats!

I really mean that too, because I know I’ve found myself oscillating back and forth every day wondering whether I’m doing the right thing, going from ‘Sure it’s fine, only two-and-a-bit more years’ to ‘Oh no, I should have taken something easier’, and occasionally ‘Can’t I just go live in an abbey like in The Sound of Music and sing with the nuns all day and not have to have a job/study?’

Usually though, if one finds oneself questioning one’s existence at uni and/or life, one should eat a Snickers or something because one is usually hungry. And to be fair, the world (if not the kitchen sink) always looks better after one of my homemade curries.

Before I started my course, and even a few times since, I’ve heard optometry being described as ‘tough’. What does that mean? Does it make you do push-ups if you get an answer wrong? Is it full of Gollum-like riddles and if you get them wrong, it eats you? No; well, not so far. There’s a lot to take in: maths, science, strange anatomical names, but the eyeball is finite, like anything else, so there’s only so much to learn. You just have to weather the storm. Plus, you need a good study strategy. Some people go to the library (I have no idea how you concentrate in there), some people go home for the weekend (not an option for international students and those a six-hour train ride away from home), some people stick the telly on or stock up on snacks. I downloaded Beethoven’s entire Ninth Symphony, unplugged my headphones and had it belting out, daydreaming about tragedy and drama while staring at my essay plan. I also bought a violin.

There’s nothing like scratching away on strings of tightened steel to feel like you’re getting some sort of recompense on your noisy flatmates, gawd love ’em. I really must practice more often. Plus they say that learning a new instruments increases brain power – that and jogging, so I do both. Anything to increase brain power without actually studying ;-)

So the halcyon days of autumn are behind us, the looming deadlines of winter are ahead. But they don’t need to loom if you crank out the assignments early, they hold no fear if revision is second nature to you. Lucky people. You can sit smugly in the exam room when the lecturer says ‘begin’, while us procrastinators desperately try to remember where on earth the canal of Schelmm is in relation to the limbus. Happy Thanksgiving!

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