Shreya Sharma
Sep 5 · 5 min read

Hi ladies! I am Shreya, a recent graduate from UMass Amherst working at Microsoft. Like many of you, most of my days are spent in front of a screen; be it on my phone, laptop, desktop or even HoloLens. I completed my Masters degree during the first week of May and decided to take some time off between my graduation and work. I wanted to disconnect.

As women in Tech, we are often encouraged to reach out, put in more effort or go the extra mile for a variety of reasons. It could be a personal motivation to have an amazing career, it could be the drive to pave the gender gap in tech or it could just be a cool way to make good money. What we often don’t hear is the message to disconnect- take ourselves away from the tiny screen world that dictates most of our waking hours and just see the beauty around us for what it is, through the natural screen of our eyes. Sometimes I feel like we have lost the balance between letting women be women and encouraging them to join tech. The latter often overpowering the former.

During my time at UMass, I had the honor of working under Professor Parviz Kermani in his networks lab. My work schedule might have looked very normal to an onlooker. Get to work every day at 11 am, meet Professor in his office, discuss the agenda for the day and head to the lab and finish the tasks assigned to me. My job included a bit more than that. During the five minutes, I saw Professor Kermani every day he told me the most amazing stories about his life, family, work and his travels. During my last semester at UMass Amherst, he encouraged me to travel, specifically, to travel on my own. He stressed the importance of taking a step back in this fast-paced world and finding yourself in the quietest places. I took his advice quite literally and decided to go to the Grand Canyon!

I made a long trip starting at a farm in New Mexico, followed by Albuquerque and Santa Fe, onwards to Flagstaff in Arizona, finally the Grand Canyon and then a short detour to Philadelphia on my way back. So here in this article, I am sharing the most beautiful things that I encountered during my travels which truly made me disconnect and enjoy my life in those moments.

  1. A farm in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico -

My first stop was a really awesome farm or ranch or whatever you want to call it. Coming from Massachusetts, I wasn’t used to the open skies, the stunted trees, and the scorching sun! An hour-long hike around the area, coming face to face with cows and horses, with one bottle of water in my hand, I had a newfound respect for my apartment back home. But the beauty, the stillness, and simplicity of life, the clear night sky made it all worth it.

2. Adobe buildings in Albuquerque and Santa Fe -

I have always been a fan of architecture styles that reflect the history and culture of a place and capture the essence of life as it must have been sometime ago. The Adobe houses are one of the best structures that melt into the surroundings with their earth tones, smooth edges, low ceilings, and colorful doors. Every building was worth a picture but I took this one!

3. Local crafts and decor in Albuquerque-

Souvenir shops are a part of any travel plan but the masterpieces that I saw in Albuquerque made we wanna buy entire rooms to decorate my home. I loved these wooden units the most that could be used as dressers or just storage shelves and had a memorable charm to them.

4. Meow Wolf in Santa Fe-

Meow Wolf is the single most interesting entertainment space that I have seen in my life. It’s hard to describe but it is almost a combination of an escape room, an art exhibit, and an interactive museum. Colorful rooms, space portals, mystery journals, an alleged time traveling machine, this place had it all!

5. Williams on Route 66-

Williams is a cute little town on route to the Grand Canyon near the historic Route 66 in Arizona. The town itself is very small with a few restaurants, a gas station, and a few old saloons. But it definitely has a certain old wild west vibe that almost instantly teleports you to a different era.

6. The Grand Canyon on a cold windy day-

It rained the entire day before I headed to the Grand Canyon but luckily enough the clouds were kind when I actually got there. The sky was overcast most of the time which made hiking easier. I actually had to put on a jacket as I got further down the South Kaibab Rim trail. But there were momentary lapses of sunshine which illuminated the entire area. The best part of a stormy day at the Grand Canyon- you can see the storm approaching! There were a lot of times during the day when I would look to the far side and see dark clouds and thunder while I was standing on completely dry land. The vastness of the Canyon is truly humbling.

7. Random archways in Philly-

Philadelphia is a gorgeous city full of history and food and people from all walks of life. But my personal favorite in this huge city was their archways, often serving as bridges between the historic older buildings and bustling streets. Standing on the far end of one such structure and noticing the street traffic in front of me almost felt like being in two places at once- the United States then and the United States now.

I hope this article helped you take a little break from our world of tech and reminded you of the vaster, more beautiful world we live in. And finally you may take or leave this small piece of advice from one woman in tech- Let’s be Women in Tech but not *just* Women in Tech.


A hackathon for women (cis and trans) and non-binary students hosted at the University of Massachusettes, Amherst to encourage, empower, and motivate students to become involved in tech-related fields and explore a new spark of interest in innovation.

Shreya Sharma

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A hackathon for women (cis and trans) and non-binary students hosted at the University of Massachusettes, Amherst to encourage, empower, and motivate students to become involved in tech-related fields and explore a new spark of interest in innovation.

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