Fun Places for New RITers to Hang Out

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

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned some clubs and activities for people to explore and join in the greater-Rochester community, but what about fun places for people who are new to the place to hang out with some family and friends? I was having the same question, but now I have a small list of fun local places that I want to share with you all, thanks to my birthday party planning.

It was my birthday last week, so my friends and I wanted to take a break from our homework assignments and go celebrate it somewhere. We did some research and found some really interesting places. We had a fantastic time at two places, which I will introduce below, and I am also going to recommend some other good ones that are on my list.

We first went to a place called the Playhouse & Swillburger, and it’s located between the Southwedge and Swillburg neighborhoods. Swillburger has a classic/modern mixed style to itself. The outside of the building appears to be an old historical building, but the interior is a mix of bar, arcade games, and a classic American burger joint (all locally sourced burgers, tots, and milkshakes). If you are coming with a group of friends and want to spend a fun night together, this will be a perfect pick!

The second place we went to is called Radio Social. It’s located in Rochester’s historical Stromberg-Carlson warehouse and was originally used as a radio factory. There are many colorful vintage receivers on the wall near the entrance. It’s a huge spot that features 34 bowling lanes, lounge areas, two bars and a restaurant, plus a variety of indoor and outdoor games. There’s just so much to do in one place! So again, if you have a group of people, you would all love Radio Social.
Another restaurant that I really want to visit is Genesee Brew House. I heard that they’ve got a variety of craft brews you could enjoy a nice view of high falls when the patio is open. And some other restaurants/entertainment center on my lists are: The Owl House, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, The Revelry, Lento, Nosh, Clubhouse Fun Center. So if you have a chance, why don’t you just bring your friends with you and go explore those fun places!

Student Banking – What you need to know

by Krishna Tippur Gururaj, Computer Science MS student

A bank account is essential for a student. Whether it is about getting that little bit of extra money from your parents that you need for a weekend trip, or tuition fees from your sponsor, or for managing your own salary, one always needs a bank account or two.

Major American banks like Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase are popular choices. The former has a branch located in South Town Plaza (a mile away from campus), and an ATM in the Gordon Field House. The latter has a branch located about 2 miles from campus. There is no ATM on campus however with a car, it is quite accessible. The other convenient option is Advantage Federal Credit Union bank. Its branch is located on campus and there are multiple ATMs across campus.

In Bank of America, the checking account has a zero-balance requirement for students under the age of 24. For others, the monthly maintenance fee of $12 can be waived by having at least one qualifying direct deposit of $250 or more made to the account each month. If this is not done, the bank expects that a minimum of $1500 be maintained in the account each day (a grace period of 60 days in the beginning). For more information regarding this and other fees, read here. 

In Chase, the checking account has a zero-balance requirement for students between the ages of 17 and 24. For others, the monthly maintenance fee of $6 can be waived by having one direct deposit made to the account each month. If this is not done, the bank expects a balance of $5000 to be maintained every day. For more information regarding this and other fees, check here.

In Advantage Federal Credit Union, the checking account has a zero-balance requirement with no restrictions on a student’s age. The fact that the branch and ATMs are located on campus make this bank quite an attractive and affordable option. However, the limitation with this is that since it is a credit union, its presence is local so there would be no ATMs if you go out of Rochester.

All banks would have the concept of a savings account as well. They are used to store money safely (cannot be withdrawn/used from a debit card) and earn interest on it. Check with the bank for the various options that they offer. Usually, you would need to make one transaction to/from the savings account to keep it active and free of any maintenance fee.

Opening an account in any of the banks is simple and fast. As an international student, on my first day in the US, it took me 20 minutes to get my account created in Bank of America. All they needed were my passport and I-20 (to ascertain that I was indeed a student). A Social Security Number is not mandatory to open the account; it can be updated in the bank once obtained later.

In my experience till now, I have found that using Bank of America is the most convenient option considering all factors since the branch is not too far to visit if need be, and an ATM is located on campus. When I am not earning enough from the on-campus job to be able to qualify for a waiver of the monthly maintenance fee, I just maintain $1500 in my account. I treat that as a safety net for emergencies.

Credit scores are an important part of a person’s life in the US. They are checked when you buy a phone plan, rent a house, buy a car, etc. As an international student, this was an alien concept to me. Credit cards, if used well, are a good way of building a good credit score. There are firms like Credit Karma which help individuals plan their credit card usage as well as possible to reflect positively on credit reports.

Applying for a credit card from Chase or Bank of America is quite straightforward although getting one may be random if one has no prior credit history. Advantage Federal Credit Union does not offer credit cards. There are some companies like Discover which offer credit cards to students on attractive offers; you would not need to open any separate bank account with them. Credit cards also offer cashback or rewards for using them. Ask your bank representative about all possible options while applying.