It is often said that pre-reg is the loneliest time of an optoms career. It may seem weird when you are testing up to 10 patients a day plus talking to optical assistants and the rest of your team. However these are only 45 minute conversations about the same thing and although every effort is made to get to know the patient it is not a deep and meaningful.
What "they" are really talking about is the loneliness you feel being apart from the friends you have spent most of the last 3 years studying with, going out with and in many cases living with. Now you face working full time, studying when not in work, the stress of visits, working with different people and often living away from home. I'm slightly lucky in that I am living in the same house I did throughout my course and am working in store I did summer placement and worked part time in so I know everyone there and don't have to worry about living in a strange and different place.
It's not all doom and gloom though, your team in store will soon become like a second family and can help you find all those tricky patients you need for competencies and can sit as mock patients for visits. If you're really good some may even let you fit them with RGPs. With the rise of modern communication it is relatively easy to stay in contact with your course mates via whatsapp, facebook, facetime, phone, email, skype etc. I would thoroughly recommend setting up a chat with your closest friends so you can stay in contact, swap tips and generally just let off steam.
The other time for a good catch up is on various courses either run by the various multiples or recently by the College of Optometrists. Not only do these courses give you a great chance to learn a whole host of useful information, network with people from other universities, other stores, they are also a great time to sit down and have a chat with people you haven't seen for some time.
This is not intended as a depressing post, more just highlighting that you should make the most of time with friends at uni and to keep in contact with them throughout pre-reg for academic support and to try to keep you at the same level of sanity, whether that is completely sensible or totally loony!