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Peer Advice: New Friends? No Problem! A Mini Guide to Building Connections and Fostering Friendships

Photo of a group of friends

Starting your first year of optometry school, or any school for that matter, can be a bit daunting especially when you do not know anyone… yet!

In this blog post, I will go over a few ways you can make some new friends throughout the year and even connect with some of our great faculty and staff around campus.

Something you will get used to hearing a lot during optometry school is “After Hours.” After Hours are times in the evening after all your classes where you can practice your clinical skills. You will need to sign up for a time slot to secure yourself a booth to work in, but you cannot work alone! I think you can see where I am going with this. Asking your classmates to pair up with you in After Hours is an effective way to get to know your peers better while also practicing your skills. Since you work with your lab mates during your lab section already, After Hours is a nice opportunity to connect with other peers outside of lab time. Facebook messenger is the main outlet where my classmates and I chat online with each other, and I think your class will follow suit. You can easily send a message to your classmates if they may work with you! I understand the hesitancy or nervousness in asking your classmates to do so, but this is where I hope you will break out of your shell to get to know your class more! At the end of the day, you are all here with the common goal to become future ODs together so why not practice and learn together?

This next method may be a bit more personal, but another way you can connect with your peers is to grab food together after class or simply during the universal lunch hour from 12PM to 1PM. During this lunch hour, every student and faculty member on campus has a break to eat lunch or run errands in between classes. I know that for my class, half of us would leave to get food and the other half would pack lunches for school. There are a lot of places to check out around campus if you are looking for a place to eat! Regardless of what you and your classmates do for food, I think merely taking the time to ask someone to hang out and enjoy lunch together on or off campus is a great start to make new friends. Personally, I hang out with friends by eating food with them, so I like to think it is a win-win situation because you get to be with good company while getting your daily intake of food at the same time (I say this because some of us forget to eat sometimes, especially when school becomes harder at times). Also, optometry school can often become overwhelming where you may lose track of time to take care of yourself and have fun, so grabbing some food with your classmates can help you relieve stress and enjoy a break from academics for a bit!

Collage of photo

Photo of student with their friends

Lastly, aside from meeting your peer advisor during your orientation, you will also get a chance to meet your faculty advisor! Like a peer advisor, your faculty advisor is here to help you navigate your first year of optometry school. They are a great resource to answer any questions or address any concerns you may have throughout your time here! For example, if you are interested in a specialization within optometry, I am sure that your faculty advisor can either assist you directly or further connect you with another optometrist more suitable! All faculty advisors are well-respected optometrists who have seen it all from surviving optometry school to excelling in the optometric field. Please reach out to them even if you have nothing to ask or address! I know it may seem intimidating to do so, but simply introducing yourself via email after meeting them in person during orientation may initiate a building connection that could serve you in the future. Also, your faculty advisor will most likely become one of your instructors eventually, so reaching out to them now gives you a head start in allowing them to know you on a more personal level outside of academics! From getting to know the instructors I have met so far, I can guarantee that each one of them would be happy to help you throughout your optometric journey here at SCCO. Reach out and connect!

Of course, there are a plethora of other ways you can go about making new friends and connections, but I hope the ones that I listed help encourage your thinking in how you want to tackle your first year of optometry school. Optometry is a small field in comparison to others, so I strongly encourage you to put yourselves out there because you never know who you will connect or even work with in the future! Wishing you all the best of luck and hope you enjoy the rest of your summer!

Photo of a group of students

Photo of a group of students