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!