Places to Go, People to See

by Josiah Bonifas, MBA student

One of the most common concerns expressed by students, outside of school work, is the struggle to meet new people and make new friends. There are about 18,000 students at RIT, and if you take a look around, quite a few faculty and staff, yet it can still feel difficult at times to break outside of your comfort zone and meet new people. Why is this? Well for starters, it can be uncomfortable. To be quite honest, you aren’t going to like everybody you meet, and not everybody is going to like you. But the more people you meet, the better chance you have of meeting someone that you might realize you really get along with.

When I was a freshman in college, I sat at a random table with a bunch of people I had never met. I was always fairly outgoing and enjoyed meeting new people. After about four jokes that went over everybody’s head, I realized, okay these probably aren’t going to be my greatest college friends. But, I still stuck around and made a lot of acquaintances. For the rest of the four years, we always said hello to each other. And if I was ever eating alone, I knew that I could always go sit at their table. It made me feel more comfortable knowing that I knew people. The next day I sat with a new table of people, and one of those guys went on to be one of my closest friends in undergrad. The Lunch room is just one simple way to interact with others. RIT is such a diverse school with countless activities and opportunities to socialize. There are approximately 300 clubs covering almost every activity you can think of. And if there isn’t one that really clicks with you, you can go out and make one! Go to the different events offered on campus, or pick up a new hobby that you’ve always wanted to learn. It’s all about making the first move. If you always wait for things or people to come to you, you face the risk of missing out on countless opportunities. If meeting new people if something you’ve always wanted to do, research some of the clubs or activities we offer on campus. Trust me, it is more than likely that there are people out there with some of the same interest. I had a coach that always repeated the quote to me, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. A week later he was yelling “that’s enough shots”, but the idea still remains the same. Whether it’s with basketball, leaving an answer blank on a test, or meeting someone new — sometimes life’s about taking chances, and being a little uncomfortable.

 

Holiday season is here!

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

I can’t believe how time flies! It’s been three months already since I arrived at RIT and the holiday season is now in full swing! Woohoo! Although schoolwork is still keeping me busy, I did have some opportunity to spend time doing some fun stuff before and during the Thanksgiving break, and now I would like to share some of those memories and joys with you all!

Right before the break, I had a chance to see David Carson, a celebrated contemporary graphic designer, at an inspiring design conference called R|ADWEEK. I was impressed by David Carson’s vibrant and bold approach to magazine design and his innovative use of experimental typography. As a visual designer myself, it’s always good for me to sit in a conference hall or have a gallery walk, bursting with new ideas and inspirations. The conference was held in a huge and unique artsy space called ARTISANworks. The place was a renovated factory building with numerous multidisciplinary artworks inside. If you are also interested in looking into some fun, inspiring and entertaining art pieces, you should definitely check out this place!

Then I spent the Thanksgiving holiday with some friends at one of my classmates’ parents’ house in Hastings, New York. I have always been liking the idea of celebrating holidays with some local families and friends while I am studying abroad – I think it’s a part of the excitement of living in a new culture and experiencing new traditions. Other than enjoying the great traditional Thanksgiving dinner at home, we also went to a two-mile-long DRIVE-THRU holiday light display called Lights on the Lake in Liverpool. It was a perfect way to forget about the cold weather and get that holiday feeling before everything kicks in.

Now I am so refreshed and recharged, and I am ready to take up the challenges in preparing for my academic final exams and projects.

It’s all about balance! – Work hard, play hard

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

Even before 9 p.m. a large crowd had gathered at Schramrocks for the fall semester graduate student celebration. The crowd was all set to take a break from their busy lives and never-ending homework.

This party was an event that I organized in my role as a Graduate Senator to the RIT Student Government,  and I had the pleasure of being a host to over 400 students from different majors at RIT. The students had a lot of fun and the menu was chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, pizza and a lot more. There was also a raffle which gained a lot of attention from the students.

By the end of the night students were having a great time and I could personally see and hear them talking about this special event only for graduate students. The students were at the party for over 4 hours and managed to finish the food in half the time and also the dance floor was crowded with students who were dancing to the custom playlist they managed to make me add to Spotify. All in all it was an amazing party which was successful thanks to the awesome graduate community at RIT and I would hopefully post another in Spring soon so spring incoming students have something to look forward to! ☺

Mental Health: A Little more Compassion

by Ami Patel, Computer Science MS student

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” – Sigmund Freud

We all have our highs and lows in life. Remember that time when you felt completely stressed out about that project, felt anxious, weird, unmotivated, disconnected, but, you came out of that. It was just momentary and you are out of it, happy and cheerful again. But for some people, it may be prolonged, they might need little extra help. Sometimes individuals don’t realize that they need one or they just don’t believe the need of it. Worse is when people notice such kind of individuals, yet, they ignore it. Why? Why shy away from talking about Mental Health? Glenn Close aptly said, “What mental health needs is: more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation about the illness that affects not only the individuals but their families as well.”

I know it’s sometimes difficult to realize an individual or your own self in stress until it embodies into a greater form. The earlier it is addressed, lesser will be the damage. We at RIT are thankful of the Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) to provide a wide range of services to promote personal and mental growth for overall well being of the RIT Community. It is located on the second floor of the August Center (AUG) and, you can contact them at 585-475-2261. One doesn’t need to be an individual in severe needs, one can visit them occasionally for just a little talk or distress during challenging times. They are there to listen and help you through. Even if something is bothering and you need advice, CaPS is there for you. So, if you feel like, you can visit CaPs, or you can suggest it to someone in need.

Apart from CaPs, you will find lots of De-stress events happening at RIT. So, watch out for those e-mails and make sure you bring your friends along. I would like to mention about a unique Distress event: Bow Wow Wellness. Yes, you read it right. You get to spend some time with the cute, cuddly and snuggly therapy dogs.

If you think someone is stressed, or just a little detached or unmotivated, or just a mood swing, or even if they are less cheerful than their usual self, DO take a step of care and concern. Talk to them, ask them what’s bothering, be persistent in the attempt to help because it takes them time to pour the heart out. Try to gauge the depth of their stress. Take them for a coffee, quick bite, a walk, a game, a workout session, movie, dance, Karaoke or anything that makes the person cheerful. Not everyone needs Counseling Center, sometimes it’s just a bad day or a point in time and all they need is your constant comfort, compassion, tenderness, kindness, affection, and support. They need to know that we care for them and we are right next to them.

“There’s a brand new you waiting on the other side of this madness. Stay, so that you can see what it is all for.”

Visit this extremely helpful page to learn more about the resources offered by RIT to address the concerns: https://www.rit.edu/studentaffairs/tigerscare/. Tigers Care. <3

A sneak peak into my life…

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

The clock is ticking and the blog post is due in a few hours and I am running across campus to get to the library and finish my work. As I dash through the cold air to start working on the post, I bump into friends who wave and smile. In my head as I try to find a space in the library, I scold myself for procrastinating yet again and continue to open my laptop whilst thinking about my topic for this week.

After several debates with the little angel and devil on either side of my shoulder, I make up my mind to write about an average week in my life. Well the first thing I can think about is my classes and considering the fact that my major is Computer Science I have to really speak about the copious amount of homework that we are given every week. Out of the three courses that I am taking this semester, one of them is research intensive course and other two are high level graduate courses that require me to spend a lot time apart from the class and homework time. My days are filled with me reading research papers in the domain that I am working on and also working on an open problem which would help me validate my learning. If I am not in my classes or reading research papers as I walk across the campus, you will find me working on campus at either the Library or the Graduate Enrollment offices. The best part about working at these places is that you get to work with amazing people who are less colleagues and more friends. If I am working at the library, I get to work with a team that takes cares of the daily functioning of the library and if I am at the Graduate Enrollment office, I work with a team that is trying to help prospective students in understanding if RIT is the right fit for them. The thing that stands out to me at either of these places are my bosses who treat me as an equal and a friend. There are days when I just drop by their office and chat about life and they are always there to help me or just listen to me babble about my life.

Finally, as an elected representative, Graduate Senator, I work with the Student Government to represent the entire graduate community at RIT. In this role, I work with various offices/committees at RIT like the Office of Graduate Education, Co-op Services, Graduate Council, University Council, etc. It gives me a chance to be a voice for the graduate students at RIT and present the issues at the council meetings or to the heads of the offices/departments. Although it has been a very short time since I started working in this role, what makes me truly passionate about my work is knowing that I help improve the experience of graduate students at RIT. Although it sounds like I have a lot on my plate, never did it stop me from going out with my buddies on a Friday night or watching the latest superhero film (I am a Marvel Fan, Shhh..!). In my 15 months of being at RIT, I transitioned from a graduate student who used to be overwhelmed with homework to a graduate senator who is overwhelmed with homework and a lot of other work. During this transition, I made several friends and learnt things that I could have never learnt in any other place. All I want to say is that, graduate school is tough but you can always enjoy as long as you plan your time well. Umm, I am pretty sure I am running late to my next class so I got to run (*so much for good time management*).

Ciao!

Just a City Boy

by Josiah Bonifas, MBA student

Born and raised in New York City (sorry South Detroit,) life started to look a lot different when I committed to play basketball at Houghton College, a small liberal arts school in upstate New York. I remember the drive up when I was first getting dropped off. We stopped seeing civilization a good hour before reaching the school. It was an endless scene of fields, farms, livestock, and the occasional Amish buggy. I vividly remember thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?”

The first month was the most challenging. Other than the general struggles of making new friends and adapting to college, there are a lot of cultural differences between living in a small town and living in a city. For starters, everyone says hello. I always thought that I was a polite person for smiling if I made random eye contact with a stranger, but this was a new extreme. I kind of liked it. It was a little act, took minimum effort, but for some reason made you feel slightly more at home.

People also seemed kinder, and had a genuine interest in you. There wasn’t a big rush, or an urgency about everything. It was very different for me. I had developed habits that were completely opposite of this kind of living. My walking and driving never quite adapted. Eighteen years in the city and you develop a speed walk that’s the equivalent to a regular man’s jog. My friends were often telling me to slow down through ragged breaths. As for driving, I can’t count the amount of times someone drove with me and never asked for another ride. It’s the fast and furious in the city, the yellow cabs are merciless…

There are countless other examples of cultural differences that I encountered, but they all came together to paint one big picture for me. We have all experienced life differently growing up. Our countries, families, environments, religions, and homes, have all played a role in the way we view things. As we experience these different cultures, there are a lot of important things to learn from the way other people view and do things. At the same time, going somewhere new will often show you things about yourself that you might have never noticed. It doesn’t have to be a new country or change of scenery, it could simply be a different group or new friend. Regardless of what’s new, enjoy the different perspective, embrace it, and learn from it. There’s no better time than now.

7 Things to do this Thanksgiving Break

by Ami Patel, Computer Science MS student

Staying in Rochester this Thanksgiving? Worry not, we got you covered. Here’s a list of things that you can do if you aren’t going home. If you make it to the entire list, or want to share your experience at one of the events, please share your story with us at gradstudent@rit.edu.

1. RIT’s Global Unification
Happening this Saturday, November 18 from 7 pm – 9 pm, Global Unification is the largest multicultural event here at RIT. Immerse yourself in the vivid performances from various cultural clubs and experience the spectacle that highlights the cultural and ethnic diversity at RIT. Check out the event details.

2. Concert: Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Staying in Rochester and not attending a concert? That’s un-Rochester-like. The American rock-band, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, is having a concert at the Blue Cross Arena on Wednesday, November 22. How often you get to hear them perform live the Wizards of Winter or Sarajevo/Christmas Eve? Event details here.

3. Thanksgiving Meal at The Commons
Don’t feel like going anywhere? Get to The Commons on Thursday, November 23rd with your friends and savor the traditional Thanksgiving Meal prepared with love and warmth by the wonderful chefs. Hours: 12 pm – 5 pm.

4. Enjoy some Southern food at Cracker Barrel
Cracker Barrel is an interesting place where you can enjoy classic homestyle Southern food along with shopping gifts for the Christmas. Their Country-store-like shop has all the fun merchandise that takes you down to the childhood memory lane. Make sure you go through their Music collection and don’t miss to check out those antiquities hanging around in the store and the restaurant. The hash brown casserole is a must try. Location: 2075 Hylan Dr., Rochester, NY 14623. Hours open: 7 am – 10 pm

5. Remember Rembrandt at Memorial Art Gallery
What about time-traveling 5000 years in art history? Memorial Art Gallery has a permanent collection of more than 12,000 objects ranging from medieval to contemporary times; including works by Rembrandt, Monet, Homer, Cézanne, Matisse, El Greco, Cassatt, William Congdon. MAG includes a large number of women artists from era’s when sexism made participation in arts educations an exception. George Eastman’s collection is a must-see along with their current exhibition of Wendell Castle Remastered. Did you know that student ID can get you admission tickets at a reduced rate? I know you are excited. Here’s the location: Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, 500 University Ave, Rochester, NY 14607

6. Black Friday Shopping!
How can shopping not be part of this list? Drive or take an Uber to Eastview Mall-30 minutes drive from RIT-located in Victor, NY, is a great place to shop all those fancy brands along with enjoying some food with your friends. Don’t forget to buy yourself those warm and cozy Christmas themed plush pajamas. Location: 7979 Pittsford Victor Rd, Victor, NY 1456

7. Marvel vs. DC?
Marvel or DC, Thanksgiving is the time to support both. Watch Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League and, get into a debate again. No matter what the debate is, I’ll still be a Marvel fan. 😛

Happy Thanksgiving!

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.

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!

First Day at RIT –

by Krishna Tippur Gururaj, Computer Science MS student

When I got to Rochester for the first time in late July, 2016, I had some idea of what all needed to be done but with not much conviction. An extremely helpful leasing office assistant at Park Point helped me out with a map of RIT and the key areas marked out. However, without the use of Google Maps, I ended up not being able to follow the map too well and took a much longer route than necessary to get to Gleason Circle! A helpful app to download on your mobile phone beforehand would be “RITMobile”. It is available on the App/Play stores. The RIT Wi-Fi is accessed using the same university credentials that you would have used during the application process. This post is my attempt to help an incoming student with their first day on campus at RIT.

So, let me begin with introducing Gleason Circle. It is where you would catch the RTS public bus (to head towards downtown), the RIT shuttles (to get to Park Point, the Province, and all on-campus housing), and The Lodge’s shuttles. It is also from where you usually get picked up by a friend or a cab. This is the south-central part of campus (roughly where Texas is in the continental United States). The residence halls (dorms) are located to the east of this point, and almost all the academic blocks are to the west of this circle. It is the de-facto center of the campus. You could check out the map of RIT at https://maps.rit.edu.

For an international student such as myself, the first place to go to is the International Student Services office which is on the second floor of the Student Alumni Union (SAU). This is roughly north-west from Gleason Circle.

Once signed in with ISS, you need to get your student ID. This is done at the Registrar’s office (first floor) which is in the George Eastman building (right next to the SAU).

After this, your previous academic documents might need to be verified in case they were not submitted during/after application. For doing this, you would take your degree certificate and transcripts to the Graduate Enrollment Services office which is on the lower level in the Bausch & Lomb Center.

While running around finishing up the formalities, if you feel like grabbing a bite to eat, check out the various dining options that are on campus. Although all may not be open until start of term, there certainly are some places that could serve you nice food; the Brick City café, Artesano’s (both in the SAU), Crossroads, the Cantina Grill (both in the Global Village), or the always available vending machines all over campus. I personally love the deli sandwiches at Brick City, and the nachos at Salsarita’s (located within the Cantina).

After you are done filling up on some much-needed energy, I would suggest you visit the Student Health Center in the August Center to verify and ensure that all necessary immunization and health insurance related action items are taken care of. Do visit the Wallace library; it is right by Gleason Circle and it houses Java’s café, which, per most people I know, serves the best coffee on campus.

Depending on your major, your department could be located anywhere from the George Eastman building to the Golisano Institute of Sustainability (far west of the campus). Look around and start getting used to the campus. RIT is going to be your home for at least a couple of years, start getting familiar with it right away!