Remembering the first letter of RIT
Often when talking about RIT, I find that the focus is purely on the school and campus itself. There’s nothing wrong with that approach, but the college doesn’t exist in a vacuum, or on some sort of island. Rather, Rochester, Henrietta, and the upstate New York region all have many activities and destinations that help add to one’s time at the Rochester Institute of Technology. While they’re not strictly academic endeavors, there’s always something to do to help get away from the books and projects during the year.
In terms of the region itself, RIT is nestled nicely. Niagara Falls is only ninety minutes away, and is a wonderfully scenic way to spend a Saturday. If international travel is more of a focus, Toronto is only a few hours away, making it a nice day trip for concerts or hockey. Admittedly, I haven’t yet managed to convince my friends to load up in a car for a Maple Leafs game. Just a weekend ago I drove into Binghamton with some members of the Humans vs Zombies club for an invitational Nerf game, and we got back with enough time to grab dinner in Rochester. RIT may be on the opposite side of the state than NYC, but there’s certainly still tons to do in the nearby area.
However, sometimes you don’t want to have to drive more than half an hour. A weekend visit to the Public Market doesn’t just mean buying produce, and instead offers a plethora of food, goods, and even decorations. The Seneca Park Zoo has a great variety of animals, and works closely with conservation efforts. Local game and comic stores, like Millennium Games and Pop Roc host card game drafts and board game tournaments, sometimes even coming to campus to help a club or give prizes. Of particular interest to the IGM program is the Strong Museum of Play, which is a brief fifteen minute drive from campus. One of the leading locations in game archival, it’s also a great place to learn about how people play, or spend a few quarters in the arcade. Swinging into the city is worth the time, with a variety of shopping, restaurants, and attractions I’m still finding after four years of being at RIT. Trying out the regional specialty, a Rochester plate, is a practical necessity, and available at most local restaurants.
On top of this, there are frequent festivals and events in Rochester. Fringe Festival just passed, showcasing a variety of games, plays, poetry, and theatre. Similar festivals are hosted throughout the year, and for pretty much any type of theme one can imagine. The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra routinely puts on a video game themed show (most recently with a Final Fantasy medley), and does other themes throughout the year. When not hosting an Amerks hockey game, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Arena has a wide spectrum of live events and artists come through.
These distractions aren’t without their own upside, however. For me, it’s immensely refreshing to take a break from studies and get off campus with a change of scenery. Seeing other people's’ passion through food, music, creations, or performances helps me focus more upon returning, and see other ways to approach my own creative classwork. Even when classes get more demanding, I find the time away from work to stay incredibly important in maintaining the quality of my academics. It’s important to remember that just because RIT has housing, food, academic buildings, and stores all on or within a few minutes of campus that the R still stands for Rochester. To forego the city and area is missing out on a ton of opportunities to meet people, engage with history, and sometimes just try something new. Whether it’s visiting to see if this is the school for you, or you’ve spent years here and are looking for something new, I recommend spending time in the city and area. There’s always something worthwhile going on.