Winter Break in Rochester

As the ball drops in Times Square, 2016 has become part of the history books. As chaotic and intense as the political world has been, when the holiday season and New Year roll around, it’s time to reflect on the past and plan for the future.

After spending a wonderful week with my best friend in Rhode Island and New York City, I returned to Rochester and am working as a resident advisor for Southside area and a telephone assistant for the Office of Admissions during winter break. This is the first time I’m staying on campus during winter break, and I’ve found that this is quite a unique experience to work and live on campus. Here’s why:

1. Winter break is a great time to further explore City of Rochester.

Due to my busy schedule during the academic year, it’s hard for me to take a huge chunk of time off just to roam around and explore the City of Rochester. However, I have much more downtime during winter break, so I decided to go into the city and have some fun before school starts again.

My first stop was Java’s, a local coffee shop located right next to the Eastman School of Music on Gibbs Street. I especially love the unique and exotic paintings and decorations there. My favorite activity is sitting at a window seat with a cup of Kashmir Chai and a good book during a leisurely afternoon.

Java's Coffee Shop near Eastman School of Music in downtown Rochester (photo credit - flickr.com)

Java’s Coffee Shop near Eastman School of Music in downtown Rochester (photo credit – flickr.com)

I also visited Memorial Art Gallery (MAG) for the first time this winter break. As a University of Rochester student, I was able to visit for free since the MAG is part of University property. I enjoyed paintings and sculptures by artists from different eras in America, browsed artist M.C. Escher’s special exhibition of Reality & Illusion, and looked through cultural objects and paintings from other countries. It was a great time appreciating some artistic expressions in a beautifully decorated gallery during wintertime!

Me in front of an angelic fountain statue in Memorial Art Gallery

Me in front of an angelic fountain statue in Memorial Art Gallery

2. Winter break is also a great time to prepare for job interviews and graduate school applications as a senior.

Since I am graduating in about five months, winter break is an essential time for me to wrap up all my graduate school applications and prepare for upcoming job interviews. Though most students have gone home, many major student service offices on campus, such as the Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center, remain open during the break. One of the main reasons that I chose to stay on campus was so that I could finish all my graduate school applications and get them critiqued by career advisors before the deadline. Since there are only a handful of students staying on campus, I can book as many appointments on Handshake (the University of Rochester’s internal career service platform) as I need to perfect my personal statements!


During New Year’s Eve, my temporary co-RA in Southside and I put on a Dominoes & Games hall program where some residents and we played Pictionary while enjoying Domino’s pizza and wings. As the clock ticked midnight, we officially entered 2017. I am both excited and sentimental about the new year, because on one hand, I am about to figure out what the future holds for me, and on the other hand, I will be saying goodbye to Rochester, my home for the past three-and-a-half years. I am grateful for everything Rochester has offered me so far, and I believe Rochester has prepared me well to take on more future challenges.

Happy New Year and Meliora!

About the author

Sophie Zhang

I'm a member of Class of 2017 majoring in electrical and computer engineering and minoring in biomedical engineering. I'm originally from Chongqing, China, but I spent my junior and senior year of high school in Concord, New Hampshire. I am a campus tour guide, a brother of Alpha Phi Omega community service Fraternity and a contributing writer at Campus Times. I will also become a freshmen Resident Advisor and a senior interviewer next year. I am excited to meet all of you, Class of 2020 and 2021 in person!!!

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