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Last time, I was in a very distressed state. Today, I begin a new quarter, the second quarter of optometry school. A new quarter, with new deadlines and new courses, so for now I will remain starry-eyed and hopeful. :p I am going to do my best to stay ahead of the game this time since it’s supposed to kick up a few notches and yet I already struggled insanely last quarter.

Evernote is working really well in helping me stay organized! It helps me stay synced with any of my devices – my Windows desktop, my Macbook laptop, even my Android phone, and any random computer in the library. If I forget something at home…it doesn’t really matter, I can still look at it on Evernote. Now there’s less stress about whether or not I’ve manually downloaded everything onto each device. There’s no excuse not to study during downtime such as waiting for class to start or while waiting in line.

It’s been a lot of trial and error finding methods that help me tackle grad school better. For my own reference, here are some things that seem to be working better for me:

  • Going to bed early and waking up early. I can’t stay up late like I used to in HS & college because the day (8am until evenings at school) is just too long for me to feel energized at night anymore. Go to bed, and when I wake up feeling fresh, instantly dive into studying.
  • Using downtime between classes for easier subjects.  Tackling difficult classes in a short period of time seems like time is wasted and my attention is more spread out in loud environments
  • I had a few study sessions with a classmate – we split the time up between homework/concepts/creating an equation sheet so that we spread our time out efficiently. This is something that I need to do at least weekly to keep myself on top of things. If a classmate has a schedule conflict and is skipping our meeting for the week, I need to force myself to find someone else. There’s always someone willing to study in my class, as I’ve discovered over the last few weeks. I just need to put in the effort to locate them and fight the temptation to just go home.
  • Studying in the library after class is over for a few hours until traffic dies down. Less time is wasted in traffic, and I get some good productive hours in there. Usually when I go home, I don’t get into studying right away – it’s more like instant unwinding time & dinner whether I plan to or not.
  • Taking breaks when I felt less sharp and productive. These breaks are like taking a nap or cleaning, doing laundry, etc. A few short breaks are like with YouTube and a snack (when snack is done – so is YouTube break!).
  • Doing an “out loud” study session with a friend where we worked through tough material together pushed my brain much harder, but made it much less tiring than doing it on my own.
  • Writing things out on a whiteboard – even if it’s to just have a nicer layout in color (and then taking a picture of it to study more later!) – made it a lot easier to remember.
  • Speeding up lecture recordings by 2x saves a lot of time when re-listening to them and also pushed me to keep my focus level high rather than getting bored and dozing off.
  • Create a Google document and be responsible for creating a portion of the study guide. Even if you’re not going to look at it later (you probably will though), it forces you to become an expert at one section at least.
  • Create mini-deadlines, and major deadlines – all due before the actual deadline. Mini-deadlines to make things more manageable. Major deadline to force myself to cram if I failed to complete the mini-deadlines (which is more than likely to happen). And yet, the major deadline will still be before the actual deadline so that I will have extra time available for review.

Like I said, I’ve been using the free version of Evernote, which gives you 60MB of space per month – plenty if you’re only dealing with text and images. Premium gives you 1GB a month. Once you start putting in large files (like the huge pdfs I have from my professor for lecture), it starts to eat up space really quickly, so it depends on what you need to do. Additionally, Premium has other really useful perks such as being able to annotate onto pdfs directly and being able to search within image files and pdfs.

I like Evernote a lot and I’m considering purchasing the Premium edition but I’m not quite sure yet. I figure I’d try it out first before purchasing, but unfortunately I already tried Premium apparently when I first joined in 2008…..6 years ago when I didn’t even really use Evernote much, lol. If you’d like to help me out and would also like to try Evernote, you can use my referral link! If you join using my link, download Evernote onto your device of choice, and then log in, I’ll earn some points that can be used for a temporary month of Premium! Also, by using my link, you will get a month of Premium as well.

Here is my referral link! Thank you to anyone who might decide to use my link ^_^

I’ll make a post later detailing some of the tips I have on how to use Evernote! For example, I’ve got a to-do list on there, notebooks for each class, textbooks, a record of all my coupons, restaurant menus, and even a table of contents linking together related notes. Stay tuned!

I completely forgot I didn’t publish my last blog post, even though I had written it last month. I just published it now. T_T

The pace has picked up and I’m getting super overwhelmed with grad school. The first few weeks were sooo laid back and easy; I couldn’t believe it. I made the mistake of getting too comfortable during those weeks and now that things are at full speed, I am sooooo overwhelmed!!!

My learning speed when it comes to difficult material is very slow. I have a hard time comprehending things unless I take the time out and go over it myself at my own speed. And lately now that I have re-entered school to go to optometry school, I have not been doing my job of spending all of that time outside of class to really understand everything. It’s not like undergrad anymore where I can cram a few days or the night before (complete with stress and lack of sleep). I’ve been doing that for the last two weeks, but I can tell it is just not possible as things get more difficult, and my classmates will quickly leave me in the dust if I don’t keep up.

Feeling super overwhelmed the last two weeks, I decided to look into maybe a new system for me, since my old system (which was successful in college) is not working out for me anymore in grad school. I’ve started using Google Calendar because with 7 classes a week with 4 clubs and an optometric frat, I can’t keep track of my schedule in my head anymore. Starting to make an agenda on paper with a weekly view now, so that I don’t get behind on assignments.

I used to record lectures and type notes during class, go home to relisten and fix my notes to make them verbatim to the recording, create electronic flash cards, and use the notes & cards to study. Aced all my exams. Now, it is not working as well especially since my classes are double the length of undergrad and to be honest, my professors expect us to comprehend much more than what they say in lecture.

So, my current plan is to continue reviewing the lecture recordings, notes, and flash cards, but I will need to set aside much more extra time to actually find outside sources to solidify my understanding. Additionally, a bunch of pdfs, Microsoft word files, powerpoints, and handwritten paper notes (in fact, I prefer all electronic but most of my classes are best using handwritten notes) is getting really overwhelming for me. I’m trying out Evernote, finally, despite having it ever since 2008. I never used it since it didn’t seem necessary to me. But now that I have so much going on and so many files, I think the Evernote interface will really help me keep things together and feel less overwhelming. You can type notes, include PDF files and PDF books, pictures, all in one place. Sadly, it does require an upgrade to premium for more space per month and features such as annotating directly onto pdfs, searching text in images or having Microsoft files directly embedded in there. I’m not sure that I’m ready to invest in $45/year for that yet, but if Evernote ends up really helping me with my studies, I’ll consider it.

What’s fantastic is that Evernote is compatible with all platforms (I have a Windows desktop AND a Mac laptop), as well as with mobile decvices! I love studying on the go and during downtime, so a multi-platform program is a big necessity for me. If you’ve ever used Evernote, I would love to hear about your tips and experiences!

Off to do some cleaning to de-stress, and then study mode for the night – I need it desperately. I really miss reading and commenting on blogs…maybe I will do that as a stress reliever during downtime in the future.

Before it even hit 8:00AM I already had my picture snapped for my ID badge. As a person who prefers to take multiple shots before deciding upon “the one” picture, I’m not happy with my photo, but I’m sure I’m just nitpicking. This picture is going to stay with me for 4 years and I guess my consolation is that it doesn’t look bad and it could’ve definitely looked way worse. :p

There was a point during the beginning of our university president’s opening speech where I felt really emotional, almost teary eyed. It was the realization that this was a turning point in my life, one which will lead me to a future that I can see myself in and be really happy with.

I’m not so good with names, so it’s going to be a bit of a struggle learning about 100 names from my class, but I imagine they’ll come to me pretty quickly over time. As we’ve been told many times during orientation, these are the people we may become lifelong friends with. I’m a little apprehensive about successfully forming some good bonds and I feel like a 5 year old again, worrying about whether or not I will make any friends on the first day of class.

In some aspects I’m a very social person, but depending on the situation I can be really shy. I find it easy to go up to someone and say hey & introduce myself to make some small talk, but continuing the conversation for an extended period of time is hard for me. I guess you could say I find it easy to talk, however, I don’t find it easy to talk non-stop. If I had to fill the silence the entire time, I would not be able to do it. I’m not sure if I should embrace finding people I can enjoy comfortable silence with, or if I should maybe challenge myself to fill in the gaps of silence. I should probably do both, honestly. It’s going to be tough, but I will try to make an effort to talk twice as much as I normally do. We’ll see how that goes. :p

I’ve surprisingly befriended a lot of commuters from my class already. I was extremely concerned that everyone was finding roommates and living close to campus, but I have met a handful of girls who are commuting from home as well. It’s really nice knowing we’ll have the same experience and we can help each other get through it.

Ironically, I haven’t really been able to talk to one of the two girls that I was acquaintances with before entering optometry school…which is a tad bit surprising but it makes sense that we are trying to expand the circle of people we know.

And yes, I get a few moments of doubt when I think, what if I just can’t understand something or perform something correctly? What if my classmates surpass me and I am left feeling inferior? But I try to reassure myself that I know myself and for all the times I’ve struggled in the past, a ton of repetition, practice and hard work were all I needed before I mastered something. And this entire experience will be many steps harder than my past struggles, but in being honest with myself, I realize I can definitely push myself even harder. I know I can challenge myself, and eventually make my past struggles look like nothing. It’s a scary thing to juggle in your mind, but I suppose grad school was meant to take you out of your comfort zone anyways.

I’m also just a tiny bit worried about my current relationship with my boyfriend. It’s going amazing and I am really happy with us, but I can’t help but wonder how hard will it be once the ball really gets rolling. I think it’s going to need a balance between really making an effort to see each other and be together as much as possible, and getting used to the fact that we’re going to be so busy that we will need to be apart sometimes. And no, we don’t need to worry about me “finding someone else” in opto school. There’s about 19 guys out of a class of 100 for crying out loud, LOL. The odds are good for the men but not so much the women, haha. It’s funny because the other girls I’ve met who are currently in relationships have expressed that their boyfriends have said the exact same worries as mine. :p I personally don’t think anyone in opto school should date around within the class. Our class size is just too small for it to be successful and not awkward.

Until next time! Whenever that may be…

Finally checking into this place again! Although kind of stressed lately, I’ve been having a good time for the most part!

The not-so-fun: It’s been quite the task to get all of my requirements taken care of before starting grad school for optometry. For quite a while, it was an endless task of going around to different places to get things done. I had to retrieve my old lab tests & documents proving my immunizations, get a physical & evaluation, draw blood to perform a chicken pox lab test to prove my immunity to it, get a form notarized, have a TB test done (which required coming back a second day to check the results), get my health insurance sorted out despite my application being in limbo since December, read documents and fill out all kinds of forms, complete a financial aid application and apply for loans, transcripts, blah blah & blah. It all would have been easier if I had health insurance & just one doctor to go to, but I didn’t and had to go around to so many places/clinics. Not to mention the stress of driving on freeways (I dread freeways).

I’m almost in the clear except for a few things though, so besides a few stressful days at work, I’ve been having lots of fun!

So far this summer, I’ve…

Gone to another yelp event that had free food, booze, and an awesome self-guided tour of the Iowa Battleship.

Yelp’s Patriotic Party at Battleship Iowa

Attended a strawberry festival (the fresh, sweet strawberries paired with soft-serve vanilla ice cream was so good) and went to a friend’s house party for her birthday afterwards. The party was a ton of fun with lots of drinking involved. The end of the night went terribly, however, so I’ll leave the rest of it unmentioned. And no, nobody got sick or puked.

Went to a little get-together at my friend’s lovely (and very large) house for a small jacuzzi party and a tasty dinner at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles.

Roscoe’s Chicken

Celebrated July 4th by working a super short (4.5 hr) shift at work, having hotdogs/hamburgers at my house, a Filipino dinner at my boyfriend’s, and watching a really lovely firework show at the park.

July 4th

We went too late to fully enjoy it, but we were able to experience a little bit of the local art walk. It was fun seeing the street filled with people and looking at people’s artwork/galleries. We went to a restaurant afterwards to have some dessert (best bread pudding ever) and drinks.

Sad little shacks for cartoon action figures

Card House

Strange, human-looking, broken chair that gave me weird vibes

We also went to the arboretum and took a really relaxing walk around. My favorite was seeing all of the turtles!

Arboretum

The arboretum had different “biomes”

The pond was home to many ducks :)

Can you spot the turtle?

Turtle!! What a cute little guy

My boyfriend and I went shopping to prepare some outfits for our Vegas trip in August. This time I bought a pink dress and a red dress for bright, vibrant colors! In the past I’ve worn black and gray dresses so I thought I’d go for colorful this time :) I bought them for super cheap as well – I usually don’t splurge on dresses unless they’re on sale. I got them for $13 and $10 haha. We’re trying to get our entire group to have one matching night where we all wear red! That is going to be so cute :)

Preview of me wearing the pink dress

We went to the dollar theater and finally saw The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It’s kinda fun going to a 10pm showing after a long day of work, and then knocking out after going home. I enjoyed the movie – I actually like the dorky portrayal of Peter and the smart heroine, Gwen (*tear*).

And you bet, I’ve been doing lots of gaming with my boyfriend as well. :p Steam had a summer sale recently and I totally bought Terraria for $2. We’ve been playing it a lot together in multiplayer mode and it is ADDICTING. I love these types of games where you get to explore, build a house, discover/craft things, fight bosses. So, Tera has been on the backseat as of lately. I also bought a 2-pack of BattleBlock Theater to play with my boyfriend but we haven’t had a chance to try it yet.

Terraria – Oops, I didn’t mean to drop a bomb and blow up our house. LOL

 

It’s a two month countdown until I start optometry school in August. I’ve looked into whether or not I should start preparing academically for the road ahead but the resounding answer was a big NO. Apparently it’s no use trying to tackle tough material blindly by yourself, and they will teach you everything you need to know once you start school. Plus, once school begins you’ll wish you had fully enjoyed your summer break before the madness begins. :p So…no more academics for me since I finished my last pre-requesite class (human anatomy) last month. I’ve only just been working a ton to save up some money. Especially since it was finals week last week, most of our employees (most of who are college students) went MIA and I was one of the few people who could fill in every day.

Besides working, I really want to enjoy myself to the fullest. I don’t have the money to go traveling the world like some people do before they between undergraduate college and another 4 years of optometry school, but I still want to make it a good summer. What are some things you would do, if you didn’t have much money to spend, for one of your last care-free summers? Here are some things I’m hoping for so far:

  • Cook a full-course meal and go on a picnic
  • Thrift-shopping and swap meets for treasure finds
  • Art Walk (and our parking meters are free after 8pm)
  • Visiting our local zoo on a free day of the month
  • Jacuzzi party after a chicken waffle lunch (haha this is so specific because it’s already been planned ^_^ )
  • A trip to the arboretum
  • Bolsa Chica Conservatory
  • Watching a lot of TV shows and anime (I’ve never been one to watch that many at all when I’m in school)
  • Read a lot more books (sadly something I don’t do much for leisure when I’m in school)
  • Watch fireworks on July 4th
  • Learn how to crochet? (I was always jealous of those amigurumi patterns I could never use)
  • Do more wool felting and plushie making
  • Go to a theme park (hopefully with some good discounts)
  • Clubbing night at a local club (it could be either very ghetto or fun, we’ll see haha)
  • Beach day
  • Go hiking on some trails
  • County Fair (preferably on a day with free entrance in exchange for a donation)
  • Dollar Theater movie nights
  • Do some gaming with the bf
  • Go back to couponing (I used to get free stuff in the mail all the time and my family would ask me, “What’s today’s item?” haha)
  • Day at our favorite/beautiful library to read manga (oh yes, totally the opposite of nerdy 8-) )
  • Go back to running and getting some sunshine a few times a week
  • Train ride to somewhere as a mini-adventure
  • Karaoke lounge
  • Dave & Busters night
  • Bowling
  • Las Vegas weekend with my favorite people (obviously the most expensive thing on the list, but we’ve planned ahead and I’ve saved up for it :p )
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