A trip to the Hindu Temple of Rochester

Being a Brahmin and growing up in an orthodox Brahmin Community, I was, literally, no more 200 meters away from a Temple. Having said that, It has been 6 months since I last went to a temple, this might not seem like a big deal, but a bit of background on myself will make you understand the magnitude of this.

I come from a lineage of orthodox Brahmins and my family is a direct descendant Hindu Saints. I basically grew up learning sacred Vedic literature near a huge temple called “The Parthasarathy Temple” which is one of the 108 sacred places in the Hindu literature. My family is an orthodox brahmin family, although I, myself, am not very orthodox to speak, and visiting the temple daily, as my dad puts it, is as important a duty as attending college every day, and I get reprimanded heavily if I skip it. But of course being bought up in a modern world, I barely orthodox but I do get some peace of mind by visiting temple especially when life gets tough.

TL;DR, my culture’s sacred ancient literature basically says that as a Brahmin, I must do my duties to god every day, not just only when I want to get an A+ in my next midterm or pass that paper I messed up because I had to watch that episode of Game of Thrones before a midterm, don’t tell my Intelligent Systems professor.

Hindu temple of Rochester

Now that you know why it is such a big deal not visiting any for 6 months, let us talk about the trip. It was a New Years day called “Ugadi”, at least that’ s what my roommates called it, on April 6th, different cultures in India have different calendars. So my roommates decide that we take a trip to the Rochester Hindu Temple which was due for a long time. This semester has been a hard one for each one of us, we were being bombarded with projects, assignments, quizzes, and midterms on all sides and we needed a stress buster and this trip came at the perfect time.

The temple was only a few miles away from RIT. The temple was smaller than we expected but on a big piece of land. The architecture was similar to the temple architecture that you would see in Northern India. There were 7 deities in total. The temple’s environment was very calm and peaceful. They also had a wonderful set up of miniature statues that depicted the entire epic of Ramayana. We spent a few hours there sitting and meditating. I felt a tinge of nostalgia which was soon eradicated when I got a message in myCourses dropbox saying I had a project due in 2 day. Overall, I had a wonderful and the trip got me geared up for the final phase of the semester.

#myRITstory- Yashowardhan Soni

Yashowardhan Soni is a second-year grad student in Computer Science. He moved to the United States in spring 2017 and just like many other students, he also faced difficulties in terms of adjusting in a totally different country and in academics. His dedication and hard work helped him to perform well and go beyond his own expectations and he ended up with 40% scholarship after the 1st semester at RIT. During his graduate studies, he worked as a grader for prof. Borrelli for foundations of computer science theory. Even after performing so well in grad school he was having trouble in finding a good co-op and internship because of the lack of professional experience which is a common problem with most graduate students. The frustration went even worse for Yashowardhan when he got rejected from one of the big companies in their final round of interviews. This had made him give up for around five to six months until got an internship offer from Matrixcare. Despite the lack of experience, the company was willing to bet on his skills.

Matrixcare was a game changer for him. He developed Alexa skill for healthcare software in a short duration. His work was praised by the entire company when he gave a demo of the software in company meetings. Meanwhile he also cleared an interview for a co-op at Amazon where he worked on languages and technologies that he had never used. He performed exceptionally well in implementing projects before the deadlines with technologies that he never used. This impressed the engineering team at Amazon and the result of his hard work was what a computer science grad student would want. He got hired for a full-time position at Amazon, San Francisco. This journey truly makes us believe that there are no secrets to success, it is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.

Summers in Rochester

Three months can feel like a dreary long time without work or classes; while some students prefer leaving for a vacation home, some still stay here because of research, classes, or just convenience. If you do choose to stay, it can be a really fun time, especially if you have friends here too. It’s very hard to find a week during the semester where there ISN’T a festival going on somewhere in or around Rochester.

Here’s a bunch of things you can do to make your summer’s enjoyable or productive, or both!

The Rochester Lilac Festival (May 10-19, 2019)

The Lilac Festival happens near the beginning of May, right when finals get out. This is a really great way to start the summer off and is even good for people who are not staying at RIT for the whole summer but haven’t gone home yet after finals. This is an art, music, and food festival with a huge number of lilac bushes spread around Highland Park. This is a must for anyone staying over the summer! There are always cheap concerts downtown throughout the summer! The Sunflower Festival also takes place towards the end of the summer at Wickham Farms (which has a bunch of things going on year-round). This is a festival of fun with games, food, a corn maze, and as you can guess, a ton of sunflowers.

The Rochester Public Market

The Rochester Public Market is a great place for so many reasons during the summer. It’s open throughout the year, but it’s packed during the summer with local farmers selling fruits, veggies, meat, beer and wine, and baked goods. The produce here is super cheap, and you get to support the local farmers! They also have food truck festivals here once a month with over 20 different food trucks and live music. They also have a bakery, coffee, olive oil, and cheese shop inside, and there are a ton of restaurants right next door. My favorite is Boxcar, which has really good fried chicken, donuts, and Korean fried cauliflower. You can also volunteer here at Flower City Pickers to help sort unwanted food from the farmers!

Darien Lake Theme Park

Darien Lake is a great spot, and it’s only about an hour away. This is an amusement park with rides, a water park, and concerts. The park has a ton of rides, and usually, the lines are not long at all, especially if you go on weekdays. When I went, I went on each ride at least 3 times there were so little people there. The stage in the park also has big concerts all the time too!

The city of Toronto

Toronto is also 3 hours away, and while it’s not IN Rochester, it’s an awesome city if you’re willing to drive there. The people are super nice, the food is diverse and delicious, and there a ton of things to do there as well. This is a perfect place to go during the summer when you have free time. You can also take a ferry directly from the city to enjoy the scenic beauty of Lake Ontario and get to your destination faster!

Museum Trips 

For art junkies who wish to explore exhibits from the Colonial times, Rochester has a lot of cool museums in store for you guys! The Strong Museum is the only collections-based museum anywhere devoted solely to the study of play, and although it is a history museum, it has the interactive characteristics of a children’s museum making it the second largest museum of that type in the United States.

The George Eastman Museum is world-renowned for its collections in the fields of photography and cinema, the museum is also a leader in film preservation and photograph conservation, educating archivists and conservators from around the world. Home to the 500-seat Dryden Theatre, the museum is located on the estate of entrepreneur and philanthropist George Eastman, the founder of Eastman Kodak Company.

The Strong Museum of Play

The George Eastman Museum

Summer on Campus

You can also be productive! Many people use their free time to take classes over the summer. This makes your semesters a little easier if you get that class out of the way. A lot of students choose to do research on campus too over the summer. Sometimes this is paid, and many people will write papers, publish something about their research, or end up presenting what they worked on too. Working on campus during the summer can also help you save up some money while still being able to enjoy with your friends and explore all the fun things Rochester has to offer.

Rochester has a ton of stuff to do over the summer, so if you’re here you’ll definitely have a great time!

Turkish food

This weekend I had the pleasure of eating Turkish food for the first time at one of the best restaurants I’ve been to in Rochester at As Evi Turkish Cuisine. It’s nice to have some options that don’t always get accurate representation in cuisine. When the opportunity to try Turkish food presented itself, I just couldn’t turn it down.

The restaurant is a bit far from RIT and there aren’t any RIT buses that go this far out but if you have car and a willingness to commute then I highly suggest making the trip, especially if this is the first time you’ve had Turkish food.

As soon as you walk into the restaurant you feel as though you’ve crossed over from Rochester to Turkey. The restaurant is decorated with traditional Turkish decor, not the stuff you find from pottery barn that is mass produced, but beautiful pieces of pottery and artwork that are obviously hold a depth of tradition and meaning. The ambiance is great, the owner and employees are kind, and the food tastes like it is from another world.

Juicy, tender meat in bold sauces that can’t be found elsewhere on a bed of perfectly cooked rice pilaf and grilled vegetables. I got the iskender kebab, which is difficult to describe, but consists of thin shaved beef gyro meat covered in a spicy tomato gravy mixed generously with yogurt and grilled peppers. It’s the chef’s specialty and it’s easy to see why. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in visiting the restaurant. My wife got the chicken kebab, which was grilled with a dry rub of spices and served with a side of rice. Also, if you’re a big eater like myself then you’re in for a treat, the portion sizes are very generous. Even if you don’t finish it all in one sitting, the food makes for great leftovers.

Overall, the dinner was amazing. However, what really set them above the rest was

Best Baklava I have ever had!

their baklava. The baklava was warm and coated with chewy nuts. There was even syrup on the bottom with a nice crisp bite of phyllo dough on top. Texturally, it was the best baklava we had ever tasted. The nuts were minced perfectly, and the coating of syrup was not too overpowering, tasting faintly of rose water. It was topped off with crushed pistachios, which complemented the flavors of everything quite well. 

Between the phenomenal service, fair prices, and unique cuisine, it’s difficult to think of reasons why we won’t make As Evi Turkish Cuisine a regular staple in our restaurant rotation.

Best and quietest places to study on campus

Throughout your time at RIT, you will be searching for quiet and private places to study and complete your projects. I mean, let’s be honest, when it comes to studies the majority of us tend to get distracted a lot. Also, I don’t want some random guy to stare at my computer in a cafe and come to the conclusion that I am pitiful at coding, I mean that’s what I have my TAs and graders for. So, therefore, during my first two semesters at RIT, I went on a hunt to find the quieter and calmer places on campus for a proper study session.

You might wonder, “Wait! Hold up their sparky! Isn’t the library exactly the place for this ?”. Well, the first and second floors of the library are kind of noisier because they are meant for discussion and group studies. Although the third and fourth floors are designated quiet floors, they get filled up very fast and if you are looking for a private place and quiet place to immerse yourself in studies or complete your assignments with the least distractions, you would need to get a spot in the library very early in the mornings. Also with the rumors that the fourth floor of the library is going to be converted into an office, the traffic on the third floor might increase significantly. As someone who is always on the hunt for quieter and warmer places to study at RIT, I bring to you my top 5 picks on the same:

  1. Third and Fourth floors of Wallace Library: I know, I know! After just stating that the library sees a lot of traffic, I post it as my first pick. You might call me a hypocrite, but come on, it’s called a library for godsakes, it has to be somewhere in the picks. Here’s the deal, if you are going to spending long hours, the third and at least temporarily, the fourth floors are the best places to be. The hardest part of using the third and fourth floor is not the noise level but is about getting your spot. My advice would be to go to the third floor at least an hour before lunchtime. I usually prefer the north wing of the third floor that faces Gleason Circle. It’s the least distractive, and the most spacious. Also, the best part is that the library has rollable couches, which you can just drag your and get comfy. There is an unsaid rule about the quiet floors of the library, people would try their not to sit on a table if it’s already occupied. This means, if you get a table, you are most likely to get the entire table for yourself, at least for the majority of the time.  The fourth floor is, even more, quieter than the third but is less spacious. You can, of course, book a study room, but they have time limits and therefore, not suited for long hours.  Another understood law of the library is that the more floors you climb, the quieter it gets.

    North Wing, 3rd Floor of Wallace Library

  2.  Golisano Institute for Sustainability: Ah yes! The best building at RIT in terms of aesthetics: modern look, orange tinge, huge building, but you what’s even better? You could barely find more than 20 people in the whole building for the most part of the day. Looking for a quiet place to do a phone interview? This building is a godsend for that. Unlike the third and fourth floors of the library, where you would need to minimize your talks, this place offers a huge advantage. You can talk more freely and it’s always quiet, sometimes so quiet that you might hear echoes. Also, not to forget the beautiful terrace garden.

    The spacious Sustainability building, RIT

  3. Crossroads after 8 pm: This is my favorite place at this moment. I, sometimes, prefer it more than the library. It has that mild music in the background, food, very spacious, open till and after 7 PM, one of the most peaceful environments on campus to complete your assignments. It’s crazy because it’s actually very spacious and you would not find a place to even sit during lunch time as it will be packed with people, but it gradually gets better as we move towards evening.  Love it especially because you can grab a bite anytime you want.

    Crossroads at night

  4. Institute Hall: Another place close to the sustainability building. Haven’t spent a huge amount of time over here. The third floor is the quietest. I found the place completely by accident, one of my seniors told me to go to the sustainability building to study, though this place was the building, got lost, which was quite embarrassing considering the fact that I was with my crush and half the building was made of glass and literally, transparent and eventually got to the third floor only to find out the next day that it wasn’t the sustainability building.
  5. Lounge at the James E. Booth building: To be honest, the entire building 7 which is made of Booth 7B and Gannet 7A are calm places most of the days. I haven’t personally spent a lot of time in either of these places but was recommended by a senior. I used to go there for the chess club and sometimes found it to be eerily quiet.

Now, there are more places on campus like the Orange Hall which also have lower decibel levels, but I haven’t had sufficient experience with these places to recommend them. Also, there places in the SAU and GCCIS, but they are pretty inconsistent because of the possibility of university events occurring at these places. I don’t want you to plan a study session over there only to find out that it’s packed with people at which point you decide to add me to your hit list (too much movie nights for me).

Bonus: Looking for a place to nap? Fear not, the student government has got you covered, with an exclusive map which also gives you a measurement of quietness. You could convert these places to study as well, but the one problem is that some of these places have a lower number of ports or a higher number of students snoring.

Now, all the places mentioned above are from my own experience. If you believe, they are not as quiet as I mentioned, I recommend the below solution:

 

A Taste of Italy

Growing up in New York City, I didn’t have a Wegmans or a Walmart growing up. Places like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods didn’t explode in popularity until the last ten years or so, and for many, those places were too expensive to shop anyways. I became used to

It was a beautiful day for some cannolis!

relying on corner stores and small markets for staple goods but also for things that are new and exciting. I never thought I would find something like that out of New York City, especially in the Rochester area, but I was wrong. Rubino’s Italian Market is everything and more. They have everything you are looking for, there it be ingredients or meals. They have imported dry goods like pasta and risotto, and my wife was marveling at the olive oil selection like a kid in a candy store. I felt the same way as her once we got to the bakery section. Rainbow cookies, sfingi, and cannoli all under one roof? It’s a no brainer. And I’m still basking in the beauty of their “cannoli cookie sandwich” which is sweet cannoli cream in between two chocolate chip cookies. I’ll take ten, please. If you’re trying to cook an old school Italian meal, this is the place to go. Or, if you don’t feel like cooking, but you want to eat an old school Italian meal, you’ve also come to the right place! They have a full selection of hot foods like pasta, chicken dishes, arancini, and roasted vegetables. Their hot items are available for purchase as a meal, and they also sell cold versions packaged up to be heated at home. Rubino’s is a small space (when you consider everything they have in there!) but they have filled it to the brim with a wide variety of foods. They have specialty sausages which are Rochester-renowned; a rotating selection changes based on seasons and right now they have a lamb sausage available. There’s also a regular meat counter where you can get cuts of beef, chicken, and other proteins. There’s a separate deli meat counter where you can order cold cuts and cold salads, like tortellini salad, a variety of pasta salads, and their selection of imported olives is more impressive than Wegman’s. If you want a deli sandwich, they have those too, they even have their own version of a garbage plate sub. Part of the charm of going to those little corner stores were the personalities working there, and at Rubino’s it’s no different. The family-owned business has many employees in the store that have been working there across generations, and their knowledge and their kindness know no limits. If you’re looking for an Italian product, it would be surprising if Rubino’s didn’t have it. Their selection and service are a rarity nowadays, and I have no doubt that I will continue going with my family for years to come.

The Idealab experience

IdeaLab is a program available to all graduate students, is designed to connect problems and challenges with technical and creative problem solvers from all over the RIT Community. The teams are formed by enthusiastic innovative-thinker students from multidisciplinary expertise (technology, engineering, science, computing, design, business and communications) to solve unique problems faced by organizations or institutions such as Al Sigl Community of Agencies, Rochester Regional Health and others.

The students spend one weekend designing innovative solutions for specific problems identified by the participating organizations. Each team works under the guidance of an RIT faculty member, as a coach, and a sponsoring administrator. Design Thinking is the core tool highly encourage by the coaches in the event to be use to solve the problems. As we know, Design thinking is a powerful resource to be able to came up with innovative solutions. The main purpose of the event is to give the students the practice that they need before graduation and help them to understand the importance of developing ideas that are appropriate for the target market, that are feasible with the technology available and that ultimately solve the problem successfully and effectively. At the end of the event (Sunday afternoon), the teams present their innovative approaches for the project to their sponsor.

IDEALAB Spring 2019

This event happens every semester at the RIT Innovation Center and it was created by Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.This next fall, pay close attention to your email account and look for the invitation to participate to this event. Idealab is a unique and valuable opportunity for students to gain experience, to work in teams with people from other disciplines than their own and to put their knowledge to work on concrete real-life problem with a real-life client. Successful projects may then be expanded into ongoing student research projects that develop product and service prototypes, and potentially new businesses. After the presentation day, the project sponsor evaluates and decides which project is the one to be moving forward. Also, students could take classes and get credits for them on their colleges. As well as the sponsor could recruit some students for coops to continue with the projects.

In previous IdeaLab events, students have employed their conceptual solutions, prototypes, and interaction with real outside sponsors to develop their portfolios, resumes and applications to graduate schools. Some projects have gone on to earn course credit in Applied Entrepreneurship and learn their potential to become a start-up business.

https://www.rit.edu/affiliate/rrh/idealab

source: https://www.rit.edu/research/simonecenter/idealab

Housing Options and Shuttle Services for Graduate Students

One of the most integral parts of the graduate experience is finding the correct housing; from trying to cut on expenses to having more freedom and privacy, there are a lot of on as well as off-campus housing options available to the graduate student at the university that works for almost every student’s needs. I have talked about the various housing options and the shuttle service associated with that community in this blog.

Let’s get right into discovering these options:

 Perkins Green and Riverknoll

Owned by RIT, on the eastern edge of campus, Perkins Green is just a few minutes from the residence halls, academic buildings, Gracies and The Commons.  Apartment residents enjoy other community benefits such as volleyball courts, barbecue, and picnic areas.

Riverknoll is located on the west side of campus just minutes from the academic buildings and academic computer labs.

There’s a shuttle dedicated that runs on a definite route solely for Perkins as well as Riverknoll that houses a majority of the undergraduate as well as graduate students. The best thing about Perkins is that the apartments are being completely furnished for the coming Fall 2019 semester.

Perkins offers one bedroom as well as two-bedroom apartments whereas Riverknoll offers one, two and three bedroom apartments and townhomes(unfurnished). To find out more about the amenities and pricing at Perkins and Riverknoll and to have a look at virtual rooms, visit these links:

https://www.rit.edu/fa/housing/housing-option/perkins-green

https://www.rit.edu/fa/housing/housing-option/riverknoll

 Park Point and The Province

The most famous destinations for graduate students have to be Park Point and The Province. With campus proximity and furnished houses, these communities provide flexible lease options to undergraduate as well as graduate students who prefer commuting to the college on a regular basis. The best part about living in these communities is that both of them have their own shuttles running all day!

Surrounded by restaurants, gym, clubs, bookstore, state-of-the-art recreation centers, swimming pool, hot tubs, volleyball and basketball courts etc., Park Point and The Province have several more facilities like flexible floor and lease plans, roommate matching services, numerous community events, technology facilities, smooth application process and 24-hour service staff.

For more information on Park Point and The Province, visit these links: https://www.americancampus.com/student-apartments/ny/rochester/park-point#faq

https://www.americancampus.com/student-apartments/ny/rochester/the-province

Rustic Village and Brighton Village Apartments

For students who prefer their privacy away from the campus and are looking for cheap housing options, these communities serve their requirements pretty efficiently. These properties are situated within almost 3-4 miles to the RIT campus; this makes walking to campus tedious, however, there is a direct shuttle (MCC Annex) dedicated completely for these communities. Located in Brighton, these communities offer close proximity to various prime locations in Rochester (UofR, RIT, MCC, Strong Memorial Hospital, etc) and have various cheap apartment-style options for students. For more information about them, visit these links: http://rusticvillageapartments.com/RochesterRegion/RusticVillage.aspx

https://www.apartments.com/brighton-village-rochester-ny/jw364k4/

(The Brighton Village apartments were primarily known as the Crittenden Way apartments)

Global Village

The newest residence complexes situated in one of the best parts of the campus is Global Village. Global Village provides upper-class students with a global living experience and community. Global Village prepares students to enter the culturally diverse and changing workforce through unique activities, and a worldly living environment.

In addition to suite and studio style housing with lounges, community kitchens, meeting spaces, and laundry rooms, the complex also features a number of services just a few feet away. These services include the Global Village Post Office, Global Village Cantina and Grille, The Market at Global Village, Shear Global Hair Salon, and Shop One Fine Art & Craft Gallery. Also featured are a beach volleyball court and a mixed-use plaza offering year-round activities with heated outdoor seating, a small stage area for concerts and student programming, fire pit, and water feature.

For more information, visit here: https://www.rit.edu/fa/housing/housing-option/global-village?show_desktop_mode=true

RIT Inn and Conference Center

The RIT Inn & Conference Center offers upper-class students a premium living experience.  The RIT Inn is located off campus proper at 5257 West Henrietta Road. These fully-furnished state of the art center provides premium style apartments and bedrooms that are gender inclusive and equipped with wireless access, standard cable and TigerTV, ethernet jacks, fitness center, indoor pool, whirlpool, sauna, telephone service, business center, dining facility and state of the art lounges. The center has a shuttle dedicated solely for this area called the RIT Inn.

For more information about the Inn, visit this link: https://www.rit.edu/fa/housing/housing-option/rit-inn-conference-center?show_desktop_mode=true

River Meadows

The River Meadow Dr. is situated along the boundaries of Rush-Henrietta Central School District which is approximately a mile away from the Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. River Meadow is situated right along the lines of the University Commons and provides great options for students who are looking for renting their own partially furnished four-bedroom houses. Although RIT runs no shuttle service for this community, its proximity to campus and cheap housing options makes it a favorite for some students.

To find apartments on the River Meadow Dr. you can visit this link:  https://hotpads.com/79-river-meadow-dr-rochester-ny-14623-smp6qe/pad

University Commons

University Commons is located on the west side of campus the newest complex is just minutes from the heart of campus. Suite-style housing offers students their own private sleep room accompanied by a common living room, kitchen, and two full bathrooms. Situated right alongside the Global Village you can walk to class through the UC without any hassle. There is also a shuttle dedicated to the UC and several other residential complexes on the campus called the B-Lot Campus Shuttle that takes you all around the campus.

For more information, visit here: https://www.rit.edu/fa/housing/housing-option/university-commons?show_desktop_mode=true

 

To find out more information about the bus schedule and the shuttle service, visit this link: https://www.rit.edu/fa/parking/transportation/bus 

 

 

 

 

A New York Slice in Rochester!

After you grow up in New York City, you have different standards for pizza. That’s just a fact. As a result of this, maybe our expectations are a little too high when it comes to getting a decent slice beyond a 646 area code. Let’s be real for a second. Those who grew up in New York City are more pizza crazy than actual Italians…even if you meet someone currently living in Italy, they won’t be as concerned about pizza as New Yorkers. And with so many pizza places in Rochester, how can you be sure that you’re making the right choice? Lucky for you, I found a really consistent pizza chain and it doesn’t require driving on the Long Island Expressway to get it.

Joe’s Brooklyn Pizza has not one but three locations in Henrietta, Perinton, and Brighton. And they deliver. But that’s not all. They have an online ordering system set

A pie from Joe’s Brooklyn Pizza!

up where you can do everything electronically without even having to pick up the phone. I love how convenient they are- many small pizza places are phone order only, and it’s not always easy to pick up the phone.

Let’s talk taste. You know it’s got that thin crust. Thin but not too chewy, there’s still a nice crunch when you bite into it and even browning with the bottom crust. The cheese is layered on the dough perfectly and is not overly cheesy at all. I would say that Joe’s Brooklyn Pizza is the closest to New York City style pizza that I’ve had so far in Rochester.

However, another pizza place that’s worth checking out is Salvatore’s. The pizza is very good and they make pizza pies as well as sheet pan pizza (which you’ll probably encounter at some during your time at RIT.) There is also a great selection of desserts and if you are fan of donuts like I am then you will LOVE Salvatore’s. They have excellent donuts with all sorts of exciting flavors. And if you’ve never had beef pepperoni before then you have to try it at Salvatore’s. It’s delicious. They also have great wings if you are into that sort of thing.

There are many other pizza places in Rochester but if I had to pick the two that come close a New York City slice of pizza I would recommend these two pizzerias. I know it’s going to be hard going somewhere other than your neighborhood pizza place for some pizza but trust me when I say you’ll feel like you’re back at home after eating pizza from either Joe’s or Salvatore’s.