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October 2014

Just Like in the Movies

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Just like in movies…


I think that is the best way to summarize my experience so far, since the very first moment I stepped foot onto the University of Rochester campus.


Things I had seen all through my childhood on television suddenly became real experiences I was able to witness and feel with my own senses. Images I thought were just the product of the film-making industry happened to actually be true and tangible. A “just like in the movies” University!

Student playing frisbee


There’s the majestic English-style buildings with lots of students coming in and out, the state of the art labs with guys carefully holding test tubes, the eat-as-much-as-you-want cafeteria with students holding trays with burgers, salad, and milk (you definitely would not mix that food and beverage where I come from…), the American football team with more players on the sidelines than playing (sorry, I just can’t understand this game… believe me I tried!), the guy watching them eating an enormous hotdog and drinking from a massive jumbo Pepsi. There were the first-day-of-classes, events with games, bands playing, free T-shirts, and the fraternity parties (not that I have gone to any yet… I just heard about them). There’s the vast, monumental quad with the greenest grass you could ever see (believe me, it’s so green you need sunglasses to walk through it), and the group of guys playing frisbee – don’t ask me why, but you will always find them, a group of happy people laughing and graciously jumping trying to catch the frisbee in the air (when do they study, I ask myself whenever I see them), while I focus on making it from one class to the other, worrying about the assignments that still need work.



I could even say my life outside of campus has become a little bit like the lives of movie characters: I wake up in the morning, have some just-like-in-movies (JLIM) breakfast (coffee, orange juice, pancakes, eggs & bacon) walk down a street full of JLIM typical American houses with a JLIM large front yard, a JLIM porch with some chairs, a JLIM 2-cars-wide garage, and (of course) a JLIM mailbox with the family name on it on the street. I could probably go on naming JLIM things, but I think you get the point… many things are just the way I used to picture them before coming here. But there are also many things I deal with everyday that do not appear on the movies: there are lots of assignments, hard work to do, exams to study for. There are great professors and advisors willing to help you and give you their advice at any time, even after class. There are lots of resources for students such as printers, private offices to study in and nice, smiling librarians at our disposal to help us find whatever piece of information we need. There are the offices for international students and for career services, both of which organize meetings to make us feel at home. There are also talks and dissertation paper defenses and job fairs. There are even complex math discussions with random people at a bus stop (maybe that would fall into the just-like-in-Big-Bang-Theory things…)


To sum up, some things are just like in the movies, others not. Some days I love it here, other days I miss where I’m from. Some things are very cool, some are not. Some things are really fun, some not so much. Some things are really easy, some things definitely aren’t. Some days go really quickly, some move rather slowly. Now that I think about it… things are just like back home.


– Agustin Baretto ’15 (MS)



No Longer an Undergrad

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As I sit outside Starbucks in Wilson Commons and reflect on the past few weeks, I am filled with a mix of emotions. In May 2014, just a few months ago, I graduated from the University of Rochester with my Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering. I truly loved my undergraduate experience at the University of Rochester and decided that I would continue my education here for my Masters degree. When I researched the graduate programs that the University offered, I was excited about the TEAM program because of the emphasis on the fusion between engineering and business. As a senior at the U of R, I enrolled in the undergraduate Technical Entrepreneurship class, which opened the door to business for me. I was able to compete in the Mark Ain Business Model Competition, and I felt that this exposure to the Simon Business School confirmed that I wanted to stay in Rochester for one more year.


If I were asked to describe the transition between undergraduate life and graduate life at Rochester I would have to say: complex. The hardest part about this transition is the realization that I am no longer an undergraduate. The last time I was on campus, I was sitting on the Eastman Quadrangle graduating with some of my lifelong friends. I completed four great years of college, and I was excited to begin one more year of graduate school. It was the best day of my life and it was a surreal experience. When I returned in August to begin my graduate assistantship as the University’s spirit coordinator, I was eager to return and excited to start a life of independence. Campus was quiet, and I was finding myself in a comfortable routine. Soon, TEAM orientation was here and I was ready to meet my new classmates. But once classes began, life sped up very fast, and I quickly found myself back in the library as the rigor of classes changed. I also realized how different campus was without the people I spent the last four years with. I never before noticed how many familiar faces I saw on a daily basis on the River Campus. I was nervous that without my all of my friends from undergrad, I would not be able to enjoy this year.


Student on campusOver the past few weeks, I have been able to lessen this anxiety by making a simple change: moving forward with this next chapter in my life. I vow that I will no longer dwell on what life was like for the past four years, but rather forge ahead and find new things to do. While there is still room for improvement, I have made a few steps to do this already. For instance, I now pack my lunch each day rather eating in dining halls, I study in the grad-students-only study rooms in the Periodical Reading Room of Rush Rhees, and I have explored the previously unknown world of the Simon Business School. I can already see how these few changes have helped with this transition.


So in short, I would say that although the beginning of the year may not have begun as smoothly as I hoped it would, I have already started to find ways to improve this. I am enjoying the TEAM curriculum, I am making new friends from all around the world, and I am truly ecstatic that I have continued to make the University of Rochester my home for one more year.


– Courtney Astemborski ’15 (MS)



Rochester Summer

Reminiscing of a Rochester Summer

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Hello again! I spent this past summer in Rochester, even though I used to think that staying here for the whole summer might not be a wise choice. After all, it is not exactly New York City, which has a lot of entertainment and interesting places to go. However, I was completely wrong this time. There were actually festivals every weekend during the whole summer here in Rochester! I will list a few of my favorites:

Fairport Canal Days

This festival was held on the famous Erie Canal, and it attracts more than 200,000 attendees every year. The view of the canal is wonderful! This Fairport volunteer-run festival includes live music, arts and crafts from more than 200 artisan vendors and BBQ chicken. There was also a live concert there! It is really an unforgettable experience when you have dinner with a view of the sunset on the canal with a live concert around you!

Rochester Real Beer Week and Expo

If you are a big fan of beer, then this festival may be your favorite! You can learn a lot about craft beer at the events. Various venues from across the city hosted events during the 10-day festival.

Maplewood Rose Celebration

Rose FestivalSummer is a blossom season! I went to the Rose Celebration and enjoyed more than 3,000 rose bushes! Here, I found everything rose: flowers, candles, syrup and perfumes! All of them were sweet! It is a good place for girls, lovers and also FRIENDS!



Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival

This is one of the nation’s most popular and most respected music festivals! Over 300 concerts including Steve Martin, Michael McDonald, and Janelle Monáe took place at this year’s Jazz Fest. Plus, there were over 80 free shows, which attracted more than 200,000 people. I went to one of the free shows in downtown; the atmosphere was awesome! The street was so full of people that you couldn’t even move during the show! Even if you are not a real fan of Jazz, it’s a most enjoyable event!

Finger Lakes Wine Festival

The Finger Lakes area is one of the nation’s most important wine producing regions. It offers the largest showcase of wines produced in New York State with over 80 wineries. The festival featured regional artisans, live music, culinary classes and cooking demonstrations.

Rochester Greek Festival

Greek Festival with friendsThis is a good occasion to learn about the Greek Orthodox religion and culture. Plus, it’s a great occasion for delicious Greek pita sandwiches like the gyro, souvlaki and loukaniko! People can try homemade spanakopita, Greek chicken, pastichio, moussaka, stuffed green peppers, and tomato and lamb shank. I enjoyed an appetizer of saganaki, a flaming cheese, and delicious fried kalamari. (Yes, my point is the FOOD!!!)


These represent just a small portion of the summer festivals in Rochester; you can always find something interesting according to your preferences and passions! Summer in Rochester does not only mean festivals – in another blog, I will tell you guys about some other fun things Rochester has to offer!


– Bowei Zhang ’14 (MS)

Bowei Zhang

Just the Beginning of My TEAM Story

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Do you value rigorous programs in both engineering and business? Do you value an interdisciplinary program rather than a traditional master’s program? Do you value experience in entrepreneurial management?


These aspects drew my attention to the TEAM program and ended up being the reasons I finally enrolled in this program. As time goes on and I work through the unique TEAM program, I see what I’ll learn from TEAM will go far beyond that.


After spending a month’s time together, we know more about our classmates and courses. It’s amazing that you can have courses with classmates from various educational backgrounds—the diverse thinking is very enjoyable. It was once hard for me to imagine how students from different backgrounds work as a group on one business case and finally complete a perfect plan. Considering that each student may think and problem solve differently depending upon his or her own profession and cultural perspective, it might be a little difficult to reach an agreement. After the first group assignment was completed, I realized that having a group with varied backgrounds actually brings more to the table. This is especially true during brainstorming (due to everyone visualizing a problem differently than other group members, providing the whole group with a creative boost).


JillpicIn addition to engineering courses, we take three business courses: Accounting and Finance Primer for Entrepreneurs; Screening Technical Opportunities; and Economics, Marketing and Strategy Primer for Entrepreneurs. These courses bring us into the business world, which is totally different from engineering fields. Engineers tell you “1+1=2” while economists tell you “1+1= it depends.” Business courses reshape our minds. Economics teaches you what the market is and the game between the supplier and customer. Accounting teaches you how to manage your money in a proper way, making money with money. Screening technologies teaches you how to protect invention with patents and how to screen the opportunities in today’s era of “Big Data.” Undoubtedly, all of these skills help us recognize and interpret the world from a new viewpoint.


I still remember that night during orientation (it gave me goosebumps) when I heard senior TEAM members talking about how they did their business plans and then started their own company. This was while we were on a dinner cruise on the Colonial Belle beneath the sulfur sky. I still get goosebumps remembering their stories!


I believe it’s just the beginning of my TEAM story.


– Jill Jin ’15 (MS)Jill Jin Pic