Claudia Chițu

Fulbright Student Researcher, 2018-2019
I sought my calling to go somewhere and enrich my home research experience for 360 views and realized that I wanted to become more competitive and become one of the best experts in my field, by doing research in California and by creating a bridge between communities from two different corners of the world.

With Fulbright, I got the chance to join a campus that has pledged to consume zero net energy and produce zero waste and zero net greenhouse gas emissions. Also, to work with one of the most prestigious professors in my domain and meeting my dream and progressing faster with my PhD research whilst practicing my mission as cultural ambassador of Romania. Whereby, I joined the University of Merced which is the newest and most dynamic campus from the University of the California family. I still remember, the first week when my host professor introduced me as being originally from Romania to one of his colleagues, which became very excited and said aloud, ''Hagi, the '94 World Cup!''

Firstly, on the academic plan, I focused on building management systems, working on a Data-Driven System and Predictive Control for Energy Management in Smart Buildings. My knowledge, my technical and soft skills have been beautifully developed during the 10 months, and I had the opportunity to show it and share some of my own technical background at the Electrical and Computer Science Technical Seminar Series at UC Merced. Some of the research work done during this period, has been materialized in a paper to be presented in October 2019 at a high-profile international conference that happens to be held this year in my home country.

Secondly, my great enthusiasm for cultures, found a place in the meetings of the language conversational hours when my ambassadorial skills have been very active and having been matched with a conversation partner, through the weekly meetings I got more and more engaged in the American life style. These meetings guided me towards other opportunities, to understand the local community, such as Thanksgiving's Day, Black Friday, Halloween, Dia de Los Muertos, Earth' s Day, Easter, several academic dinners with the research group and their families.

I thought these were the best occasions when I could share Romanian food (since I enjoy cooking) and prepared 'sarmale' (cabbage rolls) and some Romanian cakes. The people that tried my food, simply fell in love with this!

And so, by the end of my research at the host university, Fulbright Program offered myself as a 'surprise' toward the enrichment seminar in Philadelphia; there I could meet the Fulbright students from other American states and engage in the Big Data for the public good domain. I acquired a local host, whom shared with me, precious memories from the perspective of an American Fulbrighter researcher who went to Japan in the '70s. The words are not enough to shape with accuracy, a painting of the fulfilled experience.

The accomplishments of the local community, where I did my research exchange, along with the American values reflected in numerous research projects, interdisciplinary collaborations and ideas turned into successful startups with such a high rate, has definitively changed me. Now, I know more about the American culture, along with my family, friends and acquaintances.

My fulbright experience

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Students at the advising center

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Romanian-U.S. Fulbright Commission

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