Difference between pages "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Cameroon" and "FAQs about Peace Corps in Romania"

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{{FAQs by country}}
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===How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Romania? ===
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*[[Packing lists by country]]
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*[[Training by country]] 
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*[[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles by country]]
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*[[Health care and safety by country]]
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*[[Diversity and cross-cultural issues by country]]
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*[[FAQs by country]]
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*[[History of the Peace Corps by country]] 
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==Communications==
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Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds this allowance.  The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limits. The authorized baggage allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches.  Checked baggage should not exceed 100 pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 50 pounds for any one bag.
  
===Mail===
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Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted), automobiles, or motorcycles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. This is an important safety precaution.
  
Few countries in the world offer the level of mail service considered normal in the United States. Mail takes a minimum of two to three weeks to arrive and may take up to six weeks.  Some mail may simply not arrive, or may arrive with clipped edges because a postal worker has tried to see if any money was inside. The vast majority of letters arrive in decent time.  Advise your family and friends to number their letters for tracking purposes and to include “Airmail” and “Par Avion” on their envelopes.  
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It is important to note that while volunteers should check with their airline, generally if it is necessary to bring more than allowed luggage, The volunteer can choose to pay for the overage out of their own funds.
  
During training (your first 10 weeks in Cameroon) letters and packages should be sent to:
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===What is the electric current in Romania? ===
  
“Your name”
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The electric current is 220 volts, 50 hertz. The standard electrical outlet accommodates a round, two-prong plug (standard European). It is best to buy electrical current converters and plug adapters for electronics (hair dryers, radios, CD players) before you leave the United States.  However, an abundance of European-made electronics that do not require converters and adapters are available for purchase in Romania.
  
Peace Corps Trainee
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===How much money should I bring? ===
  
Corps de la Paix
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Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. They are given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should cover their expenses. Often Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash, though travelers checks are often difficult to cash. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs. Bring only new bills in pristine condition if you plan on exchanging them for Romanian lei. Exchange bureaus usually will not change anything smaller than a $10 bill.
  
B.P. 215
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Cash machines are very common in even smaller cities, as bank branch offices spread throughout the country,  and are the best way to deal with bringing 'money' with you, but only use machines at banks and be very mindful of protecting your PIN number. DO NOT let your credit/cash card out of your sight under any circumstances. Check with your bank to be certain your card will work in Romania and let them know you will be using it out of the country.
  
Yaoundé
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===When can I take vacation and have people visit me? ===
  
Cameroon
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Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service (excluding training). Leave may not be taken during training. International travel may not be undertaken during the first three months of service, or the last three months of service, except in conjunction with authorized emergency travel. Family and friends are welcome to visit you after pre-service training and the first three months of service as long as their stay does not interfere with your work. Extended stays at your site are not encouraged and may require permission from your country director. The Peace Corps is not able to provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance.
  
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===Will my belongings be covered by insurance? ===
  
Once you have finished training and are at your site, letters can be mailed directly to your new address there.  
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The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects; Volunteers are ultimately responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. However, you can purchase personal property insurance before you leave.  If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance application forms will be provided, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Volunteers should not ship or take valuable items overseas. Jewelry, watches, radios, cameras, and expensive appliances are subject to loss, theft, and breakage, and in many places, satisfactory maintenance and repair services are not available.  
  
In the event of a serious problem, Peace Corps/Cameroon would notify the Office of Special Services at the Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, which would then contact your family. Advise your family members that in the case of a family emergency, they should contact the Office of Special Services in Washington. During normal business hours, the number is 800.424.8580, extension 1470. After hours and on weekends and holidays, the Special Services duty officer can be reached at 202.638.2574.
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===Do I need an international driver’s license? ===
  
===Telephones===
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Volunteers in Romania do not need to get an international driver’s license because they are prohibited from operating privately owned motorized vehicles. Most urban travel is by tram, bus, or taxi. Rural travel ranges from trains, buses, and maxi-taxis to lots of walking.
  
Cellular telephones are popular in Cameroon and can easily be purchased in all major cities from under $150. They do not function in all areas of the country, but service is spreading rapidly. Most trainees purchase a cellphone shortly after arrival in Cameroon. (Cellular telephones from the United States will not work in Cameroon unless they are GSM phones.) Some Volunteers bring satellite phones, which work well in most areas of the country. A few Volunteers have fixed-line phones in their homes.
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===What should I bring as gifts for Romanian friends and my host family? ===
  
The cost of calling the United States is very expensive (about a quarter a minute), several times more expensive than calling from the United States to Cameroon. Volunteers often make a short call to a friend or family member and have them return the call.
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This is not a requirement. A token of friendship is sufficient.  Some gift suggestions include knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; or photos to give away.  
  
===Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access===
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===Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be? ===
  
Over the past several years, Internet and e-mail services have sprung up throughout Cameroon.  
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Peace Corps trainees are not assigned to individual sites until well into pre-service training. This gives Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills prior to assigning sites. Keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you would ideally like to be. The most important factor is the match between your skills and knowledge and the needs of the community.  Volunteers live in small to medium-size towns scattered all over Romania but usually are within one hour from another Volunteer. Some sites require a 12- to 14-hour train ride from Bucharest.  
  
At the Peace Corps office in Yaoundé, Volunteers have access to computers with high-speed Internet connections. Many people do bring laptop computers to Cameroon. If you do, you may spend a lot of time worrying about your equipment in transport and at home (not to mention the hassle of lugging it around), and parts may not be available. The choice is up to you. Peace Corps/Cameroon is unable to provide technical support to Volunteers who choose to bring a computer, nor will it reimburse you for any needed repairs. Computers and other high-value items also heighten your exposure to opportunistic theft. Make sure to have any high-value items insured as Peace Corps will not reimburse for loss or theft.
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===How can my family contact me in an emergency? ===
  
==Housing and Site Location==
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The Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers or their families. Before leaving the United States, you should instruct your family to notify the Office of Special Services immediately if an emergency arises, such as a serious illness or death of a family member. During normal business hours, the number for the Office of Special Services is 800.424.8580, extension 1470. After normal business hours and on weekends and holidays, the Special Services duty officer can be reached at 202.638.2574. For nonemergency questions, your family can get information from your country desk staff at the Peace Corps by calling 800.424.8580; select option 2, then extension 2419 or 2420.
  
During training, you will live with a Cameroonian family.  After training, you are likely to have your own house in the community where you are posted. Volunteers are assigned to sites throughout Cameroon, which range in size from large cities to small villages. Your assignment will depend on the project, host country needs, housing availability, and your preferences. Cameroon’s development needs are the first priority in posting Volunteers.
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===Can I call home from Romania? ===
  
Arrangements for housing are made by the Peace Corps and depend on resources available in the community. You will have to be flexible in your housing expectations. The Peace Corps tries to ensure that Volunteers have lodging that allows for independence and privacy. You may, however, be lodged in a small, one-room hut within a family’s compound. Your house may have walls made of concrete or mud bricks and a tin or thatched roof. A typical Volunteer house has a sitting room, a bedroom, and a cooking area. Some houses have inside toilets/shower areas while others have nearby pit latrines.  About half of Volunteers have running water and/or electricity.  Peace Corps/Cameroon provides items such as an all-terrain bicycle and helmet, a mosquito net, and a water filter. Upon your swearing in as a Volunteer, the Peace Corps will give you a modest settling-in allowance to purchase household necessities and furniture.  
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All Volunteers have access to phones, either in their apartments, in post offices, or in the phone booths that are common throughout the country. The phones in post offices and phone booths accept prepaid phone cards (which are readily available for purchase in Romania). Many Volunteers purchase cellular phones locally and pay for service out of their living allowance. The best way to communicate with family and friends in the United States may be for them to call you. You will not have immediate access to phones upon your arrival in Romania, so do not promise family or friends that you will call as soon as you arrive. It may take several days before you have the time, access, and information necessary to successfully call home.  
  
Some sites are very isolated (more than 50 kilometers from the next Volunteer), and traveling in and out can sometimes be difficult because of the poor quality of roads and infrequent public transportation. (Fifty kilometers can take anywhere from three to eight hours of travel time, depending on road conditions.) Other posts are short distances from one another and are near paved roads.
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===Should I bring a cellular phone with me? ===
  
==Living Allowance and Money Management==
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Not unless it is a multiband GSM phone that accepts a SIM card. The most common U.S. cellular phones will not work in Romania.
  
The local currency is the CFA franc, and the current exchange rate is approximately 515 CFA to the dollar. Volunteers receive a monthly living allowance of 160,000 CFA to cover their cost of living simply, but adequately, while serving overseas. The living allowance covers the cost of utilities, domestic help, household supplies, clothing, food, work-related transport and supplies, and modest entertainment and recreation expenditures. Housing is provided at no cost.  In addition to a living allowance, you will receive $24 each month as a vacation allowance. If you are requested by the Peace Corps to travel, you will be given additional money for transportation and lodging.  
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However, a GSM tri- or quad-band phone that is [http://www.gsmworld.com/roaming/gsminfo/cou_ro.shtml 900/1800/1900 MHz compatible] - or a quad-band phone that includes at least those ranges - and accepts a SIM card will work. Be certain the phone is "unlocked" by the service provider or that an unlock code is provided.  
  
Volunteers open a bank account that is easily accessible from their site, and the living allowance is deposited quarterly into the account. Although credit cards can be used in large hotels in Yaoundé and Douala, they can rarely be used elsewhere in Cameroon. ATM machines that use the “Plus” network exist in nearly all provincial capitals. Identity theft, however, is a major problem in Cameroon, and an additional reason not to use credit, debit, or ATM cards in the country. For vacation travel outside of Cameroon, a credit card may be useful. Many Volunteers bring extra cash or traveler’s checks, which can be cashed for a fee at banks, for emergencies and vacation travel. A safe is available in the Peace Corps office for use by Volunteers. Note that the Peace Corps is not able to transfer personal funds from the United States to a Volunteer or trainee.  
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You may also be able to buy a 100-240V charger in the US that will fit your phone.
  
==Food and Diet==
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===Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer? ===
  
If there is one country on the African continent that can be described as a land of plenty, Cameroon certainly deserves the title. Cameroon is the breadbasket for this region, and local foods such as millet, plantains, beans, cassava, cocoyams, sweet potatoes, and okra, together with meats, fish, poultry, and seasonal fruits and vegetables, provide the bulk of the diet.  However, food availability varies significantly by region—in the south and west of the country, a wide range of vegetables and fruits is always available. In the more arid north, variety is far more limited. Meats, fish, and poultry are generally available everywhere. Some of the villages in which Volunteers are posted have a weekly market, and others must depend on a neighboring market for various items. Some canned and imported Western foods and products will be available in towns where you live or in the larger provincial capitals, but they are expensive. Being a vegetarian should not pose a problem.  However, the stricter you are in a vegetarian diet, the more challenging it will be. Cameroon’s climate is generally favorable for vegetable gardening, and many Volunteers supplement what is available at the market with their own harvest. (Spices are among the few items not available in Cameroon, so you may want to bring some with you.)
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Some host organizations have Internet access, but Volunteers in smaller communities may have to travel to a nearby town to find an Internet cafe. Most Volunteers find laptop computers to be very useful for both personal and professional purposes, and a few have Internet access (including cable) at home. If you bring a computer, you will be responsible for insuring and maintaining the equipment. One can generally find what one needs for repairs and maintenance in larger towns with technology centers or universities.  
  
==Transportation ==
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[[Category:Romania]]
Volunteers use trains, buses, bush taxis, motorcycle taxis, bikes and occasionally planes. Public transportation in Cameroon is relatively reliable. Trains run from Douala to Yaoundé to the East and Adamaoua provinces each day.  Bus routes run between Yaoundé, Douala, Bafoussam, and Bamenda. Planes are often late and frequently flights are canceled. Taxis are available and inexpensive in most major towns. Motorcycle taxis predominate in the Extreme North and North provinces and are increasing rapidly elsewhere in the country. Finally, minivans or “bush taxis” ply both paved and unpaved roads, bringing passengers and their belongings (including bunches of bananas, goats, pigs, etc.) to all but the tiniest villages.
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Although available, travel is not always easy. Because of lack of road maintenance and the fact that some major routes have yet to be paved, transportation can be difficult and time-consuming—especially in the rainy season. Since the transport infrastructure is limited, every means is used to its fullest capacity. This can mean squeezing six or more people into a city taxi or bush taxi or sharing seats on the train.
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You may have to rely on public transport to travel to major towns to do banking, post letters, use the Internet, etc. In doing this, you must take an active role in choosing the safest, most reliable transport. This means refusing to enter vehicles that are poorly maintained or driven by irresponsible chauffeurs and waiting for the “next car.”
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==Geography and Climate ==
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Cameroon is a land of geographic and climatic diversity, with desert, rain forest, savanna, ancient and active volcanoes, and tropical beaches. The climate ranges from extremely hot and dry in the north, to cool in the central plateau, to humid and hot in the south.
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It is best to bring clothing that will work in all these regions, as you will not know in advance where you will be posted.  Clothing—new, used, and custom-made—is widely available in Cameroon, the latter at very inexpensive prices, so you can have many of your clothes made locally.
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==Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior==
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One of the difficulties of finding your place as a Peace Corps Volunteer is fitting into the local culture while maintaining your own cultural identity and acting like a professional all at the same time. It is not an easy thing to resolve. You will be working as a representative of a government ministry or a professional organization and as such you will be expected to dress and behave accordingly. Professional dress standards are high in Cameroon. Being neat and cleanly dressed is a sign of respect and pride.
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A foreigner who wears unkempt or old clothes is likely to be considered an affront. Trousers (for men, and women in some regions), blouses/shirts, skirts (below the knee), and dresses are appropriate wear for work. If your dress is inappropriate (shorts, halter tops, short skirts, form-fitting or low-cut blouses, dirty or torn clothing), you may not be readily accepted in your job, and for women, inappropriate dress and behavior will attract unwanted attention. Cameroonians are not likely to directly comment on your dress, but they are likely to think that you either do not know what is culturally acceptable or do not care. You should certainly bring at least one dressy outfit for important or ceremonial occasions.
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The Peace Corps expects Volunteers to behave in a way that will foster respect within their community and reflect well on the Peace Corps and on citizens of the United States.  You will receive an orientation to appropriate behavior and cultural sensitivity during pre-service training. As a Volunteer, you have the status of an invited guest, and you should be sensitive to the habits, tastes, and taboos of your hosts.
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==Personal Safety ==
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More information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is outlined in the Health Care and Safety chapter, but it is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment (often alone), having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as well-off are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although most Cameroon Volunteers complete their two years of service without serious personal security incidents. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help Volunteers reduce their risks and enhance their safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Cameroon. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.and everone farts.
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==Rewards and Frustrations==
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You will certainly experience ups and downs during your time in Cameroon. One week, cultural and language differences will seem exotic, exciting, and inviting; the next week, you may see them as barriers to everything you want to experience and accomplish in Cameroon. You will need serious coping skills—humor, humility, and the ability to forge strong social connections—to get you through the difficult passes. You should expect hardship and difficulty to be part of your weekly routine and be aware that the Peace Corps staff will not always be there to help you through each cycle of ups and downs.
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Particularly during the first year of service, many Volunteers feel very alone in their work because they lack the support one gets from working with people who share a common background. You may feel isolated by language and cultural barriers. Paradoxically, you also may feel that you are never alone, but are always on parade or under scrutiny. Even the few people who find this exhilarating at first eventually find it irritating and burdensome.
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Your initial reaction to a new country is likely to be one of delight and curiosity, but working in a country is another matter. “Flexible time,” where “soon” can mean anything from 20 minutes to the next day or week, can become very frustrating. But eventually you will learn to turn the burdens into tools in your work; combining your own cultural baggage with the new culture, you will learn to both live comfortably and accomplish your objectives. Learning to function well in a community so vastly different from anything you have known in the United States is part of the challenge and magic of being a Peace Corps Volunteer.
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It is not an exaggeration to state that every successful Peace Corps project begins by identifying a particular host country national who is competent, reliable, understanding, and dedicated. This can be a long, slow, arduous task requiring many months of frequently frustrated efforts. A deep conviction that you share a common humanity with your host that transcends the cultural differences will be a big help.  In the end, these relationships are the ones that will add tremendous meaning to your time here.
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One of the difficulties faced by some Volunteers is a lack of clarity in their role in development: To what extent are you an agent of change, and to what extent are you a respectful, conforming guest and fellow worker? The answer is not clear-cut because both motivations are relevant, and yet they are clearly contradictory. Whether you work in teaching or in community development, you will encounter an established traditional system, some of which may seem absurd, grossly inefficient, pointless, or superstitious. Do you oppose it or go along with it? If you oppose it, you will encounter resistance and hostility—often subtle, sometimes blatant. On the other hand, if you go along with the system, nothing changes and you feel useless. Volunteers who follow the latter course often rationalize their passivity with a statements like: “After all, we are not here to change things” or “Who is to say that the American way of life is any better than the host country’s?” There is no easy solution. Most Volunteers work out a flexible approach in which sometimes they oppose the system directly and sometimes they go along with it, hopefully without giving up the objective of imparting something of themselves in the process.
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While it is possible that you will sail through every stressful situation without encountering any discomfort, that would be unusual. There are times for all Volunteers when the difficult conditions under which they live and work prove upsetting.
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Many experience intense feelings of discouragement and futility, especially during the first year of service. Things that seemed clear become unclear. The direction to take seems obscured. You do not feel in control of a situation or a problem, and this can be frightening. These are the times when coping skills and your social support system are critical.
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Having said all that, the rewards of Peace Corps service are immense. The very tangible rewards are the acquisition of language, technical, and cross-cultural skills that improve your ability to make your way anywhere in the world. In addition, your two years of overseas work experience gives you a significant advantage for future international work, as well as for many jobs based in the United States.
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But it is the intangible rewards that are most gratifying to Volunteers—the cross-cultural understanding you gain from integration into a community for a long period of time and the deep relationships that surely come of that. Even for the veteran world traveler, these experiences will be deeper and more profound than any other travel adventure you have had. You cannot help leaving the Peace Corps with a broader worldview and a deeper understanding of the realities experienced by others around the globe. And you will never be understimulated by your environment. More important, while having this incredible experience, you will also have the profound satisfaction of making some small difference to an individual, a community, and a country.
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[[Category:Cameroon]]
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Latest revision as of 11:53, 8 December 2015

Country Resources

How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Romania?[edit]

Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds this allowance. The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limits. The authorized baggage allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches. Checked baggage should not exceed 100 pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 50 pounds for any one bag.

Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted), automobiles, or motorcycles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. This is an important safety precaution.

It is important to note that while volunteers should check with their airline, generally if it is necessary to bring more than allowed luggage, The volunteer can choose to pay for the overage out of their own funds.

What is the electric current in Romania?[edit]

The electric current is 220 volts, 50 hertz. The standard electrical outlet accommodates a round, two-prong plug (standard European). It is best to buy electrical current converters and plug adapters for electronics (hair dryers, radios, CD players) before you leave the United States. However, an abundance of European-made electronics that do not require converters and adapters are available for purchase in Romania.

How much money should I bring?[edit]

Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. They are given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should cover their expenses. Often Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash, though travelers checks are often difficult to cash. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs. Bring only new bills in pristine condition if you plan on exchanging them for Romanian lei. Exchange bureaus usually will not change anything smaller than a $10 bill.

Cash machines are very common in even smaller cities, as bank branch offices spread throughout the country, and are the best way to deal with bringing 'money' with you, but only use machines at banks and be very mindful of protecting your PIN number. DO NOT let your credit/cash card out of your sight under any circumstances. Check with your bank to be certain your card will work in Romania and let them know you will be using it out of the country.

When can I take vacation and have people visit me?[edit]

Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service (excluding training). Leave may not be taken during training. International travel may not be undertaken during the first three months of service, or the last three months of service, except in conjunction with authorized emergency travel. Family and friends are welcome to visit you after pre-service training and the first three months of service as long as their stay does not interfere with your work. Extended stays at your site are not encouraged and may require permission from your country director. The Peace Corps is not able to provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance.

Will my belongings be covered by insurance?[edit]

The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects; Volunteers are ultimately responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. However, you can purchase personal property insurance before you leave. If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance application forms will be provided, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Volunteers should not ship or take valuable items overseas. Jewelry, watches, radios, cameras, and expensive appliances are subject to loss, theft, and breakage, and in many places, satisfactory maintenance and repair services are not available.

Do I need an international driver’s license?[edit]

Volunteers in Romania do not need to get an international driver’s license because they are prohibited from operating privately owned motorized vehicles. Most urban travel is by tram, bus, or taxi. Rural travel ranges from trains, buses, and maxi-taxis to lots of walking.

What should I bring as gifts for Romanian friends and my host family?[edit]

This is not a requirement. A token of friendship is sufficient. Some gift suggestions include knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; or photos to give away.

Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?[edit]

Peace Corps trainees are not assigned to individual sites until well into pre-service training. This gives Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills prior to assigning sites. Keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you would ideally like to be. The most important factor is the match between your skills and knowledge and the needs of the community. Volunteers live in small to medium-size towns scattered all over Romania but usually are within one hour from another Volunteer. Some sites require a 12- to 14-hour train ride from Bucharest.

How can my family contact me in an emergency?[edit]

The Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers or their families. Before leaving the United States, you should instruct your family to notify the Office of Special Services immediately if an emergency arises, such as a serious illness or death of a family member. During normal business hours, the number for the Office of Special Services is 800.424.8580, extension 1470. After normal business hours and on weekends and holidays, the Special Services duty officer can be reached at 202.638.2574. For nonemergency questions, your family can get information from your country desk staff at the Peace Corps by calling 800.424.8580; select option 2, then extension 2419 or 2420.

Can I call home from Romania?[edit]

All Volunteers have access to phones, either in their apartments, in post offices, or in the phone booths that are common throughout the country. The phones in post offices and phone booths accept prepaid phone cards (which are readily available for purchase in Romania). Many Volunteers purchase cellular phones locally and pay for service out of their living allowance. The best way to communicate with family and friends in the United States may be for them to call you. You will not have immediate access to phones upon your arrival in Romania, so do not promise family or friends that you will call as soon as you arrive. It may take several days before you have the time, access, and information necessary to successfully call home.

Should I bring a cellular phone with me?[edit]

Not unless it is a multiband GSM phone that accepts a SIM card. The most common U.S. cellular phones will not work in Romania.

However, a GSM tri- or quad-band phone that is 900/1800/1900 MHz compatible - or a quad-band phone that includes at least those ranges - and accepts a SIM card will work. Be certain the phone is "unlocked" by the service provider or that an unlock code is provided.

You may also be able to buy a 100-240V charger in the US that will fit your phone.

Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?[edit]

Some host organizations have Internet access, but Volunteers in smaller communities may have to travel to a nearby town to find an Internet cafe. Most Volunteers find laptop computers to be very useful for both personal and professional purposes, and a few have Internet access (including cable) at home. If you bring a computer, you will be responsible for insuring and maintaining the equipment. One can generally find what one needs for repairs and maintenance in larger towns with technology centers or universities.