Gabriel Troc

Fulbright Scholar, 2007-2008

An intellectual adventure
I would start by mentioning that I stayed in Los Angeles and at UCLA as a Fulbright grantee together with my family: my wife, Simona, who is a mechanical engineer, and my ten year old son, Dominic. For all of us the time spent there was both challenging and rewarding. The experience of being in California was very rich and dense, with encounters in all the strata of the Los Angeles society and with a wide range of cultural, social and psychological experiences. The happenings we were going through during the time we spent there will have foreseeable life-time consequences for me and my family.

Above the relations that I established there and the events that I was part of, which were indeed hard to count, I would make same remarks concerning my perception of the American university system. First of all I was very much impressed by the dynamism of the academic environment that I witnessed at UCLA, a dynamism matched, in my opinion, by very few universities in Europe, with numberless events happening all the time, and with schedules set for many months and even years ahead. I was impressed also by the mobility of the American scholars, both physically (traveling regularly for delivering talks and for attending conferences) and intellectually, being very opened to perspectives that come from other fields. I was amazed also by the way in which the scholars are "fighting" to make their ideas known to their peers, be that through conferences and talks or through book discussions and works-in-progress presentation.

I have appreciated very much the readiness and the openness of the audience of a talk or a conference (that I considered to stay roughly for the concept "scientific community") to recognize new ideas, but also to challenge as far as possible, and with a great amount of civility (and quite often with a good sense of humor), whatever somebody asserts. In other words, I appreciate highly what appears to me to be an academic culture of open dialog and lively exchange of ideas (once again, this culture incarnates for me the concept of "scientific community", about which I often read, but never experienced before). This perception has definitely changed my view on how an academic life should be, and - as much as will stay in my power - I'll try to reproduce this within my home university.

I would give further some advices for the future grantees who will go to California and some for the people who will go together with their family. Be that Los Angeles or San Francisco, you have to be prepared for more expensive life costs than in different other "less central" parts of United States. Renting an apartment is especially difficult and the universities are not providing accommodation. You cannot set accommodation through Internet. You have to do it on the spot and while it takes some time you have to set from home a temporary accommodation in a hotel or to a local Romanian family. In Los Angeles you cannot rent a decent one-bedroom apartment with less than 1000 $/month.

If you want to be closer to UCLA for example (which is pretty important due to the amplitude of the town and to the poor public transportation system) the costs will be even higher. The apartments are rent unfurnished, so you have to buy the needed stuff (Ikea is the best option). Don't expect to resell much of the furniture at the end of your grant. You may be also asked to pay a renting deposit (one month payment in advance). When renting, you will be asked for "the credit history" in USA. If you are not having one, make the proof of you financial viability with your grant contract (a governmental scholarship is trustworthy for the landlords). Therefore, you will have to make important expenses at the beginning, but don't worry; after you'll set all these the grant money will be still enough (the cost of day-to-day life in California is cheaper than in Romania, if you consider here food, clothing, eating-out etc).

If you are going together with your family you'll encounter the problem of sending your children to school and of the spouse getting a job, if wanted (he or she is entitled to work as a J2 visa holder). In respect with the first issue you have to know that in California schooling is provided mostly on a residential criterion. So you have to find on the Internet the school that is bounded to enroll your children due to their residence on a certain street. If you need a better school (a Magnet school or a school that functions around the university) you have to register your children with many months in advance on a waiting list and they may have to pass an admittance test).

If your spouse would want to get a job he or she has to apply for a work permit and for social security number. He or she will get the SSN in a week and the work permit in about three months. For the last document you'll have to pay 350 $, money that you will not get back if the request is denied or if he or she will not find a job.

Finally, if you'll stay longer in California you should be aware of the fact that your body will adapt to the new environment and thus some minor bodily disorders may appear. You shouldn't worry too much if these are not very serious and you shouldn't waist time and money by going to doctors. They will come and go, just be patient.

My fulbright experience

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Students at the advising center

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Romanian-U.S. Fulbright Commission

Adress: 2 Ing. Nicolae Costinescu Street, sector 1, Bucharest, Romania
Phone: 021.230.77.19
Fax: 021.230.77.38
E-mail: office@fulbright.ro

Fulbright Educational Advising Center

Phone: 021.231.90.15
E-mail: feac@fulbright.ro

 Public hours

Tuesday: 1:00 PM - 7:00 PM
 Wednesday: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
 Thursday: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM