First Mid-Semester Break in the States!

by Rashmi Jeswani, Information Science and Technologies MS student

With the last few weeks of the semester draining the energies out of every student, I was fairly excited for the winter semester break screaming a trip to the warm and beautiful state of California (Christmas was near!!).

As an international student experiencing the dreary cold of Rochester for the first time, I had been looking forward to this break for months now. As much as I was grateful for my remarkable semester back in the university, I was in desperate need of a break away from the harsh weather and the tedious routine.

I landed at the San Francisco International Airport after a long 6-hour flight from Chicago but was astonished at how un-chilling the weather was in the state as compared to back in Rochester. I was going to stay with my cousins in Milpitas, situated in the Silicon Valley which is almost an hour away from the city of San Francisco and a few miles out from the headquarters of companies like Google and Microsoft.

Twin Peaks

I had planned on visiting several of the state’s most famous attractions with my family and we started the trip off with a surprising visit to Walmart!! so that we do not run out of food whilst lying in bed until noon!

The cities of Santa Clara and San Jose held some of the most amazing Christmas decorations and were on top of our lists for the places to visit during the break. The most famous among them was a place called ‘Christmas in the Park’ located in downtown San Jose; it truly was a great way to experience the American Christmas first hand. The next few days involved some paint-balling, exploring small cafes in the neighboring regions of Santa Clara and San Jose and spending our nights at Dave and Buster’s amidst great food and arcade games. Our thirst for ‘Places with the best Christmas festivities’ took us next to Santana Row (an upscale mixed-use development center consisting of retail, office space, residential, lodging and commercial district of West San Jose) which housed some of the most amazing cafes that screamed Christmas!

Situated in downtown San Jose

Christmas in the Park

The next destination on ‘Trip California’ was the beautiful city of San Francisco. The ride through the valley was one of the most beautiful ones I had ever experienced, leading us to our first and the most obvious stop: The Golden Gate Bridge. An icon of the bay area, the bridge spreads over a mile and its dusky golden reflections make you realize how much you miss color until all you’ve seen is white glistening snow for over a month.

The other destinations we covered in the city were Twin Peaks, desserts at the famous Ghirardelli Square, Lombard Street, Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf (for the famous Boudin bakery!), Financial District and ended the night with some ice skating at the renowned Union Square.

The Ghirardelli Square

Union Square

The entire trip was rimmed with bubble baths, the comfort of home-cooked Indian food with the family, the delicacies served in small pretty cafes of nearby counties and beautiful warm pink sunsets.

This amazing trip to the west filled me with a positive determination and excitement for the coming semester back at the university!

Life outside of RIT!

by Goral Kansara, Engineering Management ME 

To be a graduate student is different from being any student because now, there comes responsibilities and a lot of management. My journey as a graduate student started with stepping into a new and a beautiful place called Rochester. The day I entered in this place, I saw these green fields, a peaceful small city and a huge campus. I knew that academics was going to be challenging but that the hardest part would be not only to stay in a new place, but also to live in it.

An exciting journey of mine started with meeting new people at the new apartment which I also thought would be the hardest part of my grad life as you can probably imagine living so many girls in the same house! However, our story is a little different, I am fortunate to have such housemates. Well, that does not mean that we do everything together or that we have exact same interests. There is just a strange way in which all of us are living together in that house.

Park Point apartment

We live in Park Point apartment, by American Campus. This is one of the  recommended off campus housings by RIT. RIT recommends some great off campus housing options that have very convenient bus stops which makes it easy to commute to the campus and to other places as well, using the weekend shuttles. These shuttles go to grocery stores, malls and to many other places in the city on every weekend. They start from 10:30 am and usually run till 9:30 pm. On week days, the shuttles start from 7:00 am in the morning and they run till 1:30 am.

Park Point apartment

Having to think about the career, home and yourself at the same time is something that one has not faced until this time in life. Therefore, to make this journey smoother, it is important stay focused and live in a happy place.

I would say, Rochester itself has this strange positive feeling which makes it so much easier to live in this place. There are numerous places in this city. Before coming here, I was worried about how I am going to survive in such small place but after a few days, I realized that it has almost everything that a person would probably need in order to have a perfect student life.

Rochester has many places to visit such as the High Falls, Genesee River Walk, Ontario Beach Park, Highland Park, etc.

The High Falls

The High Falls, Rochester, NY

High Falls is located in downtown Rochester. It is one of the three falls to discover on Genesee river. The view of the falls in the evening is spectacular and that it is the best time of a day because after a few hours, the lights turn on; alternately white, red and green and you get to see the beautiful view of High Falls in the dark.


High Falls at night

Genesee river walk

view from Genesee river walk

The Genesee river walk is also one of the attractions in Rochester. Especially, the view at night is eye pleasing. The cold breeze and the city lights can make anyone want to sit there for hours.

Ontario beach park


Ontario Beach park, Rochester, NY

Ontario Beach Park is one of the most serene places in Rochester. With having a heavy course load on one side, this place in the city that helps you stay close to the nature and its positivity. A beautiful blend of green and blue waters makes it even beautiful.

The Highland park

The Highland Park, Rochester, NY

The Highland park is located on the south quadrant of the city of Rochester which is also known as Highland botanical park. This park is popular for its Lilac festival in May. Apart from this, there are many festivals held in summer and in the winter, it is also open for ice skating, theater, and concerts.

Not only the specific places in Rochester, the entire city for that matter, is a place that has its own vibe which will give you confidence that you will achieve something valuable in life.




Tips for Vegetarians and Vegans

by Aravind Vicinthangal Prathivaathi, Computer Science MS

Welcome to a simple and user-friendly survival guide to all those vegans and vegetarians in the land of limited options. To all my meat-loving homo-sapiens who have mistakenly meandered to this post – no hard feelings guys, love you loads, but not your food choice.

Now to all my Vegetarian friends out there, you are not vegan, especially to those people who come from a country where there is no such classification as vegan established in your roots. Again vegetarian != vegan (have to show my programming skills somewhere). So what is the difference between vegan and vegetarian? Simple, vegans consume no animal products which includes dairy products! So, to all my vegetarian friends out there consuming your body-weight in cheese while telling people you are vegan, time to reconsider your position in the food chain. Also, vegans are people who have made a conscious decision to become.

With that out of the way, shall we get into the details? That’s just a rhetorical question.

Tip #1: 3 out of every 100 people in the US are vegetarians and 5 out of every 1000 people in the US are vegans, meaning our options are limited when it comes to restaurants and food. Solution? As the friendly neighborhood, New Yorker would say “Don’t worry RIT’s gotcha covered”. You have a decent array of options under RIT Dining Services. Here is my list of favorite places and food from those places:

  • Crossroads: You have a set of vegetarian/vegan options in the grill section of the cafe. Also, you can make a subway-style sub/sandwich/wrap. Here is a hack: you want to make a vegan burger vegetarian? Add cheese and your set. Bonus Points: Just come to the cash register and if you are lucky you may see me working over there.
  • Global Village Cantina and Grille: Mexican style food at Salsarita, get a custom-made veggie burrito or it’s sister versions and you’re all set.
  • Ritz Sports Zone: Go to the pasta section, again a subway-style custom made pasta. Add the veggies and get kind of a weird look from people when you say no to meat. Wait for it to bake and done! Side-note: Do not get swayed by the amount of veggie options, choose properly or the pasta contents will overflow and will get stuck in the oven. Happened to me once and they weren’t happy about it.
  • The Commons: I just go over there for the veggie pizza and it’s worth it.
  • Java Wally’s: I go there for the chocolate chip brownie, it’s vegan and it’s the best brownie in the world. Full Stop.
  • Gracies: Unlimited buffet, there is Mongolian grill, salad bars, etc. For more info go to the link at the bottom of the post.

Tip #2: For restaurants outside of RIT, use the GrubHub or DoorDash app to filter them out. My favorite I-need-cheap-and-good-food restaurants are Taco Bells, Subway, Chipotle, Fastrac Cafe (they have cheap pizzas with unlimited toppings) and my kitchen.

Tip #3: The last option you see in #2 is very very important. For heaven’s sake and also yours, learn how to cook or even better find a vegetarian/vegan roommate who knows how to cook.

Tip 4: Join RIT’s Vegan Club, you can find them on campus groups. If you are a vegetarian pondering on how to join the club, just tell them that you are Vegan who eats cheese (kidding, just talk to the club manager). When you are there and if you see my roommate sitting a corner of a room, go say hi. He is a lonely guy.

Tip #5:  To all those people who are used to eating in restaurants with veg demarcated kitchens, you will rarely find them in the US. So for those souls who are conscious about shared utensils used for both serving meat and veggies, here are some tips.

  • Kindly request them to change gloves if they are serving food by hand. You will see this in Subway or any restaurants/cafe that make subs or sandwiches. Remember to be humble when requesting and don’t forget to thank them after you see them changing gloves.
  • Don’t go too much into the details, requesting them to change gloves is fine but asking them to wipe down the entire counter before they serve you is harsh.
  • It’s kind of re-iterating the last tip but no matter how hard you try, it is inevitable that there is going to be some tiny mix-up, if you see it happening in-front your eyes and it heavily bothers you, you request them to alter it or just donate your food to one of your friends. No matter what happens, don’t throw the food away.
  • Most dining places in RIT and restaurants in the US for that matter have separate utensils, so don’t worry too much but remember a good population of the workers at RIT’s dining services are students, so don’t get angry if they mix up the utensils, you can request them to serve you a new piece of food but never shout or act rudely towards them. There is something called Karma and you know what they say about it.

Tip #6: For groceries, Wegmans and Walmart have a lot of options, there are also Indian stores around where you can get veggie-friendly food.

Tip #7: RIT has a program called RIT FoodShare, go check them out if you have time. They have a wonderful bunch of people working there, they will assist you if you are broke and you need some veggies.

Now to conclude and for those people who just skipped to last, simply remember these few things, most food in the US can be customized. RIT has a decent array of vegan/vegetarian options and join the vegan club to at least give my roommate some company.

For more information on the RIT’s dining services, visit:

For the vegan club:

To know more about FoodShare:

Changing majors in your mid 30’s #myRITstory

By Maria Grazia Guerrero

First year Grad Student ID MFA

It has been a while since I went to school. My undergrad is on Graphic Design Management and for the past 10 years I had been working for a prestigious Advertising Agency as an Art Director in my country (Ecuador). I gained experience, international awards, and it was a fun working environment to be in. But since college, when I took a Packaging Design class, I have been especially curious about Industrial Design as a profession.

I remember that at the time I thought, “Oh I wish I knew about this career before, oh well too late.” Go figure! 13 years later here I am finally switching careers to the one I feel is my true calling. I spent several years trying to study English on my own on my spare time, but it wasn’t enough when you work in advertising. So, I end up quitting and started to support myself with freelance jobs to have enough time to study for my English test, prepare my portfolio and be able to apply to grad school.

I don’t have a husband, neither kids. Nevertheless, when you are already settled in your career, as it was my case, changing majors is a difficult decision to make. You are risking your professional stability to take a big risk that you only can pray will turn out positively. Also, my family, friends, my culture… everything I knew was in my hometown city. It took me a long time but finally I got the English score I needed to be able to apply to grad school.

At plaster room with faculty member, Stan Rickel, teaching Function and Form I

So far, no regrets at all, everything I went through it was worth it. This has been a fulfilling experience. I am just starting the second semester from the first of two years that the Industrial Design MFA program at RIT lasts. Looking back, it’s amazing how much I learned in a short amount of time, faculty is really committed with this program and their students. There are events happening throughout the year with interesting talks and workshops that you can take advantage of as well. Also, you can find incredible opportunities to display and apply your work outside the classroom and join multidisciplinary teams that will only help you grow in your career.

Storyboard sketches for 2D Ideation and Visualization class

If you are in a situation like mine, I just can give you this advice: Time goes fast quickly, so don’t wait too long and don’t let your fears take you away from your dreams. I know, it sounds like a self-motivating speech but that doesn’t make it less true. I hope if you want to go to this or any other graduate program you find the way and take the courage to do so, you won’t regret it!

Thought at work 2019 organizers, this event is organized by students where interesting workshops and lectures happen every year.

If you want more information about the ID MFA program go to