RIT’s Wellness Courses: Sprinkle in some Recreation

by Ami Patel, Computer Science MS student

It’s 10 months into 2017, but that resolution to learn a new sport or a martial art, maybe explore a different dance form, or those promises about keeping yourself fit, all are collecting dust, just like the archives.

Well, RIT cares about its precious Tigers! How? Under the Wellness Education Program, RIT offers more than 550 Wellness courses over the entire academic year in the following 8 disciplines: Dance, Fitness, Health and Life Support, Health and Wellness Seminars, Martial Arts, Outdoor Education, Recreation, Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

So, what all are the options in each discipline? (I have attempted to cover as many as I can, but please refer to the official page for more information about the courses.)

Dance Forms: Ballet, Ballroom, Argentine Tango, Country Line, Hip Hop, Irish Step, Jazz, Latin, Musical Theatre & Dance, Swing, Tap.

Health: CPR, First Aid, Lifeguarding, Stress Management, Life Support Fitness – Financial, Social, Nutritional.

Physical Fitness: Bootcamp, Cardio Strength, Core & Abs, Kickboxing, Ninja, Pilates, Swimming, Training – Personal/Weight, Turbokick, Yoga, Zumba.

Martial Arts: Aikido, Kali, Karate; Kung Fu, Qigong, Self Defense, Sparring, Tai Chi, Warrior Workout.

Outdoor activities: Backpacking, Beekeeping, Canoe Camping, Indoor/Ice Climbing, Hiking, Leave No Trace Trainer, Mountain Biking, Outdoor Leadership, Indoor/Outdoor Rock Climbing, Snowshoeing Whitewater Kayaking, Wilderness – First Aid/Survival.

Recreation: Archery, Badminton, Basketball, Bowling, Diving, Dodgeball, Flag Football, Freshwater Fly Fishing, Golf, Horseback – English/Western, Ice Hockey, Ice Skating, Fencing, Pickleball, Pocket Billiards, Racquetball, Skiing and Snowboarding, Soccer, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball, Yard Games.

ROTC: Army (leadership drills and leadership lab), Air Force (physical training and leadership lab) and Navy.

Let’s look into the logistics now. Being graduate students, you don’t get credits for these courses and hence, it doesn’t affect your grades! These courses run semester-long. The enrollment procedure is similar to any other academic courses and you can find these courses by the four-letter code of the discipline it belongs to. It costs $100 for each course you take.

I have taken the Zumba and Latin dance class this semester. It’s really fun and a good way to refresh yourself from the usual academics. If you have any questions regarding these, feel free to reach out to me.

Living 8431 Miles Away From Home

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

“RIT Admission Decision” read the email on my phone and I started hearing my own heartbeat which was thumping against my chest in anticipation of some good news. After the longest 5 seconds of my life I see the word Congratulations in the email and I was overcome with joy at that moment. I spent the next few months listening to suggestions from friends and family about the things I need to be packing and so I did, with bags packed full of spices, clothes and every possible article I would need to start my life in the land of opportunities. It took a whopping twenty-six hour flight journey with multiple stops in London and JFK before I finally got to Rochester, which was going to be my home for the next couple of years.

The transition of my life from India to the USA was a rather interesting one because all the knowledge from watching TV Shows like Friends or Full House never really came to my aid in navigating through the experiences I had at RIT. The three biggest transition phases that I went through are food, culture, and school. Growing up, I loved different cuisines. As someone who loves cooking I was blown away with the choices we had in the US – Chipotle, Dunkin Donuts, Taco Bell, and every possible chain that I heard about were my restaurant choices in the beginning. Later, thanks to Yelp and my friends, I started tasting different food like pho, ramen, and pollo guisado. A year later I am still delighted by the wonderful desserts and different dishes that I try on a regular basis. But, no matter what I come from the land of spices so I miss the spicy authentic Indian food.

Coming to the next biggest transition was the obvious cultural difference that I anticipated and experienced. I made friends at my different work places within RIT and I started hanging out with people from America. They were always welcoming and made me feel that they wanted me here which made me feel very happy and helped me get over my homesickness. I have a bunch of people who are a huge part of my life right now that have come into my life after my move to the United States and I just call them my American family. The Rochester community in particular is warm and I loved the way people greet each other or maybe just smile which is very helpful when you are having a really stressful day.

Finally, the school life in USA is completely different from what I experienced in India. The coursework is pretty intensive filled with tons of homework, quizzes and exams which kind of overwhelmed me in the beginning. But today after finishing a couple of semesters at RIT and interning over the summer I am happy to go through a rigorous coursework which has prepared me to face any technical challenges at work or in my research. I spend my time reading research papers or talking to peers about new advancements in my field which help me in chalking a better path for my future. The transitions were tough but very needed and I have wonderful people around me at RIT to thank for the support. Despite the fact that I miss home and family every single moment I believe this country which is giving me an opportunity to grow professionally and personally has become my second home. But as the wonderful poet Maya Angelou says “You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right.”

Reflections on Being a Student of Life

by Mudit Pasagadagula, Electrical Engineering MS student

Almost all of us agree on the fact that good things come to us by some sort of hardship. Majority of us would nod our heads when the words like “discipline”, “commitment”, “determination”, etc. are used to explain what a success story consists of. On the contrary, as our world is huge, anything is possible and there are people who can deny this fact. But then, a wise soul always knows what is right and above all, where the truth resides. Truth needs no proof, it exists. It thrives without any acknowledgement. But the truth that most of us know is not complete or, at-least, the most general version of the it. The strong vocabulary that we use to narrate success and the hard ways to achieve it is simply a side effect of the omnipresent truth; truth which we know as love.

Have you ever noticed successful people narrating their success stories? There is a little, but a very powerful secret, hidden in every single story. You would never find the narration in a sense of hardship, difficulty, obstacles or any other passive terms. It will always in terms of “I tried this…, “I failed this…”, “I did this…”, “it turned out to be…”, etc. It is us, the audience, who perceives how much difficult the journey would have been. Every quality one requires to succeed in what one seeks falls into place automatically with just one magical emotion, love; love for what we are doing, love for what we want to do. You can eventually see how everything else lines up so swiftly once you start pursuing your true love.

Even though this sounds very simple, there is a major offset at the very first step. And the manifestation of it is what is called “finding out our true love”. If you give this a little thought you’ll find that it is the foundation stone of almost everything that had been done or is in progress in the world which we exist. And if the foundation stone is laid in not-a-correct manner, not-good things are supposed to follow. This is a perfect state for us to identify whether we are on the correct path. A person in true love with his doings takes the not-good things as a constructive experience towards what he wants to do. This decision is not due to any personal factor of that individual, it is due to the strong love. A student’s life is all about this pursuit of finding the true love. It is hard being a student because a student is a device that allows passage of gigantic amount of information through his mind, heart and soul and it is always difficult to find a needle in the hay right! A student is a responsibility of his own. There are many practices that can help a student to be clear in their thoughts. Clarity of thoughts helps a student to identify the proper thing for him.

Even a one mile walk from my home to my class presents me with countless challenges. Not just the physical ones but psychological ones too. That’s the only bad thing of being part of such a diverse campus. But as I stated earlier, standing on to these challenges is what make me, or anyone, as diverse as the student community of which I am a part of. Being a student is not just about going to calls, taking exams, building a good GPA & getting a nice job, being a student is about learning life and the synchronicity in its diversity. Ever other part of our lives is designated with some fancy word but we all essentially are students of some kind.

Career Connections – Apple Visits RIT

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

The Golisano Atrium was filled with hundreds of students in anticipation to talk to one of the most admired companies in the world – Apple. Apple Inc. is an American multinational technology company headquartered in Cupertino, California that designs,  develops, and sells consumer electronics, computer software, and online services. Apple was at RIT to hire students from multiple disciplines into various teams like Siri, Maps, etc. I approached some of the recruiters to get their perspective on “Why Apple likes RIT?” and the answers or feedback that I got was nothing short of amazing. The recruiters say that one of the reasons that they come to RIT is the amazing co-op program and the great coursework. When Apple recruits students they want students to be around for 6 – 8 months so that they get to participate in a complete release cycle so that they can better assess the students and also the students get to know the team and see if they would like to come back to work full-time. The recruiters mentioned that RIT students are very knowledgeable and the coursework prepares them with necessary skills required for a professional setting. During the event students approached teams and discussed the open positions and some of them were called the immediate next day for interviews. I got around talking to some students who got to interview with the company the next day and they loved that the event was very organized. Also, a couple of students mentioned that the constructive feedback at the end of their interview was very helpful and this would actually help them improve their skills.

Celebrating Home Culture at RIT

by Kexin ‘Coco’ Wang, Visual Communications Design MFA student

This year the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, fell on October 4th. This festival is when Chinese people worldwide celebrate the end of the harvest season and get together with families and friends. As an international student, I sometimes feel sad to be far away from home during festivals like this, but luckily, the Chinese Student Scholar Association (CSSA) at RIT hosted a Mid-Autumn Festival party during the weekend before the festival, which helped maintain our home culture and also introduced it to a bigger community.

During the party, we played themed games and had some really good traditional mooncake and Chinese food. I was glad to see that the RITCSSA brought us closer while helping us relieve the feeling of homesick and enjoy student life as international students more here.

CSSA is not the only student club that draws the campus community closer – there are actually approximately 300 active clubs on RIT campus! During the New Student Orientation, usually in late August, the school will host a club and organization fair that gives all students the opportunity to check out all of the clubs and activities available on campus and learn more about them. You could check out the Center for Campus Life website for more details. The listing of groups and organizations on campus could also be found here.

I have also heard of a group named Into the ROC, which offers students unique and challenging opportunities to explore the culture in the greater-Rochester community, such as kayaking down the Genesee river and doing some community service with a local non-profit. Free transportation and food are usually generally offered as well during the events! I personally would love to sign up for a trip with them soon and experience life with the community. You could visit their site to find out more details.

So as you can see, there is actually a wide variety of fun and exciting events and activities for students both on and off campus. And even if you don’t see any club that interests you, you may start your own club, and start to recruit your own members to share the same interest! Now go ahead and explore! Good luck!

Getting Around Rochester – Renting a Car

by Krishna Tippur Gururaj, Computer Science MS student

 In my experience, driving around in a car is usually the most convenient way of getting to places in the US. Whether it is for weekly grocery shopping or to head out of town for a weekend, a car is quick and gas is quite inexpensive.

As a graduate student living close to campus, I had not felt the need to get a car for myself immediately after coming to the US. After spending a year at RIT, I realized that there were many places around Rochester which were worth visiting; Niagara Falls, and the Finger Lakes region to mention a few. I did some research on car rentals and found them to be affordable. For example, a sedan for a day would cost somewhere around $40, which when split across 5 friends seemed like a good deal. Some of the popular car rental companies are Budget, Avis, Enterprise, Hertz, and Zipcar.

It turns out that most of the car rental companies either have a rule of only renting cars to drivers aged 25 or above, or require drivers below the age of 25 to pay a premium to be able to rent a car. Fortunately, I belong to the former category.

The only exception to this rule is Zipcar; they rent cars by the hour and the price includes gas so you don’t need to worry about how much you drive. They have cars available on our campus (right by Grace Watson Hall) so I find myself using this option when I want to quickly go pick up groceries or some such similar shopping. They require you to become a member; the process of getting the membership card (mandatory to have one before you can ride) may take about 2 weeks.

Companies like Budget, Avis, Enterprise, etc. rent by the day and usually have no limit on the distance driven. The pick-up locations for these are close to campus, either at Marketplace Mall or at the airport. The sign-up process for these is all online and usually can be done within a short period.

For ID purposes, if you have a state ID or a US state driver’s license, it is enough. If you have neither of these and are a foreigner, I would suggest you to carry your passport to be on the safer side.

Zipcar puts a user on a monthly insurance plan which is renewed automatically every month unless cancelled manually, whereas the other companies let you buy insurances with every ride you book.

The state of NY allows non-US driver’s license holders to drive a car using their foreign driver’s license if it is in English. I found this rule to be beneficial in my case as it allowed me to tune my driving skills in an automatic-geared car without much headache. Having said that, I urge everyone to educate themselves about road rules, and to drive safe! Safe travels!

Transitioning to ROC

by Josiah Bonifas, MBA student

In early June I decided that I wanted to go to graduate school at RIT. In late July I took my GMAT exam, and, by August 22nd I had moved to Rochester. I didn’t know much about this city, I was sad to leave my mother who cooks like an iron chef, and I was a little hesitant to move into a house with three guys that I really didn’t know anything about. Despite it all, I couldn’t shake a feeling of excitement. Transitions can be an intimidating time in every person’s life, but there’s something exciting about change. Its nerve racking, and often filled with many mistakes, (and in my experience, parking tickets), but at the end of the day it leads to growth.

With my move to Rochester for grad school there was a transition in culture, education, housing, and so much more. For example, my first job while here was working on a farm. Coming from NYC I thought that I’d be milking cows and breaking in wild horses. I remember telling my friends back home, like I was reliving an old western. Much to my surprise, that’s not the way this farm work goes. Instead I was on an apple farm manning an apple cannon that uses air compression to fire apples out into a field. What? Exactly. Not what I was expecting, but cool nonetheless. And that’s the real lesson here. Change and expectations go hand in hand.

As I grow accustomed to graduate school and life in Rochester, I am starting to realize that you cannot rely on your expectations or hope to know exactly how things will play out. Sometimes you just need to take the change as it comes and learn from it, grow from it, and especially, enjoy it. From my enlightenment of farm life, to my many parking tickets, to the incredible enjoyment I have had in my graduate business classes, moving to ROC has been a whirlwind of change, some of it like I expected, and some of it entirely different… but interestingly, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Except not having my mom’s cooking…

And the parking tickets.