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!

Home Sweet Home

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

It was 7 am and I was trying to frantically catch a cab after my 30 hour journey to India. I was going to surprise my family and friends and with every ticking minute I was getting impatient. This is how my winter break started and from there on it was an amazing trip filled with some really great memories. I managed to surprise my mom and got her to cry which kind of made me feel like Ellen DeGeneres. My family was very happy to see me after 9 months and so were my friends.

After successfully finishing my first mission to surprise all my loved ones, me being a foodie, embarked on my second mission to eat all my favorite food. I might have had a hundred different dishes which probably made my Snapchat followers jealous. Later as I was cruising through the city over the rest of my trip I was surprised with all the changes to my hometown and it hit me suddenly then that it was no longer the place I knew. I wasn’t even sure I can call it my hometown anymore, given for the fact that all my favorite places are either closed or renovated. For the longest time

this place was the greatest place on Earth but today I am really not sure if I still identify the place. That was when I started thinking about Rochester, the place where I have been for a couple of years now. I was remembering my favorite Ramen place in downtown Rochester, then I remembered all my friends at work and school who I spend my weekends with and a small bunch of people who I call my family. I wasn’t sure where home is anymore and that is when I realized I did grow as a person and can’t identify a single place as home anymore. I am now a man with two homes and after all as a wise man once said “Home is where the Heart Is”.