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!

Feeling adventurous for Spring Break?

by Estefany Rodriguez Rodriguez, Human Resource Development MS student

There’s nothing more stressful than planning a trip for spring break! I mean, come on, you have to fit a whole schedule of great adventures in one week, stay in the “student budget”, and making sure to have no homework pending for that week! But hey! It’s worthy, right??

For this Spring Break I am planning something epic – something different than Cancun or Bahamas. I think I’m already getting to an age where I don’t think about going to parties anymore; maybe I’m just weird, I’m only 24 LOL. Anyways, this time I want to explore a new country, a new culture, something that will expand my vision of the world. This time I have decided to go to Europe. But planning has been the most challenging part. And here’s why…

First of all, deciding where to go first and planning the logistics has been crazy. There are soooo many places to go in Europe and you just don’t know what to do first. And as we know, we only have one week! Boo! My boyfriend and I chose Paris to be our first destination, because is the city of love, every couple wants to go there! It’s every girls dream to take a picture kissing your love one with the Eifel Tower as a background. Yeah I Know so cliché, but tell me you wouldn’t do it?!

Here is a helpful list of the places you could visit in Europe http://travelblog.viator.com/top-25-things-to-do-europe/

Now let’s talk real facts, budget. As students we live in an eternal effort to fit things to small budgets, and Europe may not be so cheap. Flight tickets, hotel, tours, museums, etc., can be scary to think about.  But don’t let this overwhelm you.  For example, domestic flights in Europe are super affordable and if you book in advance you can find great deals from NY to Paris. Now, you might be concern about where you will spend the night, and I have two suggestions, Hostels and Airbnb. Hostels are very affordable, most of them have great locations, and you might have opportunity to meet people as adventurer as you are. And you probably already know about Airbnb. The advantage is that you can find comfy and welcoming houses that will make you feel like home, and the owners can guide you regarding public transportation, places to visit, and restaurants to eat.

Omelette du Fromage? Thank you Dexter for your language lessons! Language can be a problem too, and traveling can become very frustrating and difficult when you just don’t know how to ask for directions. But here’s a “yay” for technology. You can use your phone to try to translate anything you want to say or ask. Also, a lot of people know at least the basics of English so you won’t be so lost.

There’s sooo much more about traveling to Europe, or any other country. So many pros and cons, but it’s so worthy to travel and feed our adventurous spirit, and let this experiences open our minds. So go out there and enjoy your spring break! I will show you some pictures when I come back. J