15 things to do before starting and during your Fulbright Fellowship

Orientation Guide by Fulbright Alumna Alina Dolea

Congratulations for being a Fulbrighter!

For me, the Fulbright Scholar Award is the Oscar of academia: (1) it gives you direct access to top schools, top scholars, state of the art knowledge and latest advancements in your field; (2) it offers the framework to develop your own work collaborating closely with these top scholars, while allowing freedom and space for independent thinking; (3) it is a direct experience of a foreign culture that helps you gain valuable insights into the American way of life. For a researcher this blend is truly one of a kind.  

To take full benefit of this awesome experience, here is a 15-things guide I think might help you prepare your departure and the first weeks there. All these are from my direct experience:

1. Read carefully the CIES dedicated webpage. It has all details on logistics, preparations, documents, travel, insurances, etc;

2. Visit the host university webpage in advance to see what it has to offer in general. It is a must to get to know the Department/ School you go to. Pay particular attention to their curricula and how they structure study programs, the axes/centers of research they are conducting, what events and conferences they organize;

3. Contact the supervisor and ask for guidance to find accommodation or to put you in contact to other international fellows;

4. Get in touch with other Fulbright fellows at the same host university for advice, tips & tricks from their experience. Some might be selling or renting furniture pieces;

5. Try to get in touch with the local Fulbright chapter/ branch/ officer once you arrive;

6. If you are a Fulbright Scholar, do apply for a Fulbright Outreach Lecturing Fund. It will give you the opportunity to lecture in a different campus and city and will offer you new perspectives on the U.S. academic life.

7. Should you be selected, do attend a Fulbright Enrichment Seminar. It is the highlight of the Fulbright experience;

8. Attend the events organized by the Fulbright community in the area where you are;

9. If you can, engage with the local community where you live and do volunteer work. This is something we all need to work on as society;

10. Talk to people. In stores, in restaurants, in airports, at the university, in museums.. this is how one gets a feeling of the American society and its current concerns and issues on the agenda;

11. Don't spend time in library. Go and meet people at the university. Interact, discuss, engage in conversations and debates. Ask permission and sit in classes. It is a valuable experience to see how courses are being taught, how students are interacting and participating. Take notes on what you can take back for your own teaching;

12. Be curious and genuinely interested. It maters! Provide European and Eastern European perspectives on the topics that are discussed in the classes and events you attend. It is really valuable and this is how they notice you. 

13. Don't wait for them to notice you. Make yourself visible! Participate actively in as many events you can at the university (see point 11 and 12);

14. Do your research thoroughly on the university's website and make a list with professors you want to meet/ listen in classes/ see at conferences & other events. In other words, be prepared.

15. Remember you live a unique experience and try to make the most of it each day. Time goes by so quickly.
Good luck!

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