Difference between pages "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Moldova" and "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Romania"

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====Mail ====
 
====Mail ====
  
Mail service in Moldova is not completely reliable. Letters to and from Moldova typically arrive in two to three weeks, but there is a high rate of letters and flat mail never reaching Volunteers. Letters to America have better success rates. Advise family friends not to send anything of value via flat mail. Packages generally arrive safely, although they are often opened at Customs and some contents are occasionally lost in transport. Check with your post office for the opportunity to use a free "flat-rate" envelope to mail up to four pounds for about $11.  During pre-service training and service, letters should be sent to you at the following address:
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Mail service in Romania is quite reliable. Mail from the United States takes a minimum of one to two weeks to arrive. Advise your family and friends to write “Airmail” and “Par Avion” on their envelopes.  
  
“Your Name,” PCT
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Your mailing address during pre-service training (for letters only) will be:
  
Corpul Pacii
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“Your Name” <BR>
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Peace Corps/Romania <BR>
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Str. Negustori, Nr. 16 <BR>
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Sector 2, Bucharest <BR>
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023954 Romania
  
Str. Grigore Ureche 12
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Do not have packages sent to you during the 10-week training period. All packages go to a central post office in Bucharest, and you must pick them up personally to prove who you are and pay the customs fees. This will be virtually impossible for you to do during training and the Peace Corps cannot do it for you, so you could lose anything that is sent. The Peace Corps will forward letters sent to the Peace Corps office in Bucharest to the training site on a regular basis. Once you have been sworn-in as a Volunteer, you will have your own mailing address at your new site. Express mail from the United States is becoming more common, and DHL, UPS, and World Express all offer services in Romania.
  
2001 Chisinau
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====Alternatives to Mail ====
  
Republica Moldova
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Since the U.S. Postal Service ceased the surface shipping service worldwide in May 2007, sending goods overseas can seem prohibitively expensive. However, viable, economical options do exist to Romania. 
  
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Romanian-born Americans have a very strong tradition of sending parcels back to family and friends in Romania. Because of the high volumes involved, a number of independent small shipping companies have cropped up in areas of the United States with concentrations of Romanian immigrants. Particularly strong in Chicago and Detroit, such agents also exist in other places.
  
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The cost is in the range of $0.80 to $1.20 per pound. An additional advantage is that because the duties are paid in advance by the sender there is no need for the recipients to go to the vama (customs office) to claim the packages. They are therefore delivered directly to the home/work site in Romania without further cost.
  
Packages sent to Moldova by airmail arrive as quickly as letters but can be quite expensive, costing as much as $7 per pound. During pre-service training, packages can be sent to the same address as letters. Once you move to your site, you can make arrangements to receive mail and packages there, or continue to receive mail at the Peace Corps office. Deliveries to the Peace Corps address tend to be more reliable.
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The most recent list of known shippers is contained in the [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PeaceCorpsRomania/files/ Files Section] of the "peacecorpsromania" Yahoo Group.
  
 
====Telephones ====
 
====Telephones ====
  
Communication by telephone, both domestically and internationally, is more complicated in Moldova than in the United States but is still manageable. There are a number of ways to call the United States, but the cost can be high. American calling cards will not work in Moldova, but international phone cards can be purchased that will give you enough time to give your family your phone number and instructions on when to call you back. Normal calls to the U.S. can cost about 50 cents per minute; phone cards can be purchased that will cost about 15 cents to 20 cents per minute; phone calls via computers (Skype, etc.) can cost about 2 cents per minute or free for PC to PC (other than the cost of connecting to the Internet), Your home will have a phone, and you will find that many people (Moldovans, Volunteers, and others) have cellphones...  International lines are clearest early in the mornings and on weekends. Moldovan time is seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Cellphones are not purchased for Volunteers by the Peace Corps. In most cases a cellphone purchased in the U.S. will not work in Moldova.  
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Telephone service in Romania is not as reliable as what you are accustomed to in the United States, although it is improving in most places, especially as mobile phone services increase. Sprint, MCI, and AT&T provide international long-distance services in Romania, and you can access such services from public phones or post office phones. Regular long-distance calls from private phones are possible but expensive. Many Volunteers purchase their own mobile phones as the best option for making calls. Prepaid cards that offer a variety of discounts for both telephone and Internet access are available locally.
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Cell phones purchased in the US '''may''' work in Romania, provided they are unlocked to accept out-of-network SIMM cards and are tri-/quad-band phones
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compatible with Romanian frequencies. Many volunteers with internet access find [[Media:http://www.skype.com]] (also available in netcafes) to be a superior option.
  
 
====Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access ====
 
====Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access ====
  
The computerization of Moldova is progressing rapidly, so e-mail is the common way to stay in contact with friends and family in the United States. If you have a laptop computer, you should consider bringing it, although Internet service in villages is usually limited to dial-up service, which costs about 50 cents (U.S.) per hour. Volunteers can access e-mail at the Peace Corps office, and the number of cybercafés around the country is growing.  
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Many Volunteers find having their own laptop computer very useful. Access to the Internet is available at some organizations, though some will have older, slower systems.  
  
Note that the Peace Corps does not provide any reimbursement for lost or stolen computer equipment and cannot provide technical support or assistance with maintenance. Insurance against theft is a good idea.  
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If you decide to bring a laptop, we advise you to insure it against breakage and theft. The Peace Corps will not reimburse any expenses for repairs or lost or stolen equipment; nor does it provide technical support to Volunteers. If you choose to obtain Internet service where you live, you will have to pay for it out of your living allowance.  Refurbished desktop computers with warranties can be bought in some Romanian cities for $200 to $300. There are also cybercafes at which you can access the Internet (at varying connection speeds).
  
 
===Housing and Site Location ===
 
===Housing and Site Location ===
  
You will live with one host family during pre-service training and with another family for the first six months at your site.  During training, the family is selected for you. However, at your site, several families will be identified for you to select from. You will have your own room but are likely to share bath and toilet facilities. There is seldom indoor plumbing in more rural areas, so you may not have running water. After your first six months at your site, you will have the option of finding other housing if it is available, meets the Peace Corps’ safety requirements, and is within the Peace Corps’ housing allowance. Many Volunteers choose to live with a family throughout their two years of service and find the experience a rewarding one. Peace Corps/Moldova will inform you of the trade-offs involved in housing decisions, including matters of safety and security, but the ultimate responsibility for finding housing after your first six months of service will be yours.  
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You will live with a Romanian family in your assigned site for one to two months after being sworn-in as a Volunteer. Living with a family will give you an anchor in your new community.  
  
Life in Chisinau, the capital, varies considerably from life in villages, where the pace is slower, the atmosphere charmingly rustic, and the people generally more polite. But along with the great appeal of a gentler pace, villages in Moldova offer a somewhat arduous lifestyle. The primary forms of entertainment are socializing with friends and watching television. People live the life of a farm family even if they work in a profession such as teaching. Each household usually has a very large vegetable garden and all kinds of farm animals to care for. There is generally no running water, outhouses are the most common toilet facilities, and bathing is usually done once a week in a bathhouse or using buckets of water in a tub.  Despite this lack of amenities, however, life in a village will be rich in traditional Moldovan customs and friendships with Moldovans.  
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The connection to a family will help ensure your safety and security as well as integrate you into the community.  
  
Towns or regional centers may lack the compelling appeal of rural Moldova, but the pace is somewhat faster. There are more local resources and more forms of entertainment, and there is usually running water. Running water does not necessarily mean an indoor toilet, however, as the first priorities are the kitchen and the garden.  
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Through this experience, you will improve your language skills and gain a better understanding of Romanian culture and the norms of your local community. After your initial months at site with a Romanian family, you and your host organization will locate appropriate permanent housing for you.  
  
Streets and sidewalks are muddy for a large part of the year in towns and villages alike. Heating in winter can be problematic, as many municipalities cannot afford to turn on the heat until long after the weather has turned cold, and even then heating may be minimal or nonexistent for periods of time. For this reason, host families are required to have independent heating sources. Most families in villages rely on ceramic stoves built into the walls, known as sobas, which burn wood, coal, or corncobs. In larger towns or cities, houses may have their own gas boiler.  
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Your host organization will identify housing for you that meets Peace Corps standards for safety, privacy, a healthy environment, and proximity to shopping and work. The Peace Corps asks host organizations to provide housing, but contributes part of or even the entire rental cost, if necessary. The populations of towns and cities where Volunteers live range from 5,000 to 300,000, and the type and availability of housing varies accordingly. Volunteers serve throughout Romania except in Bucharest, and there are regional differences in housing as well. The most common accommodation is a small, one-room apartment in a large building.  
  
===Living Allowance and Money Management ===
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In rural communities, there are often only single-floor houses and privacy can become a difficult matter. If assigned to a rural community, you may need to live with a host family for the entire two years of your service.
  
After pre-service training, you will receive a monthly living allowance in local currency that will allow you to maintain your health and safety while living at a standard comparable to your Moldovan counterparts.  
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In the winter, you may lack central heating, hot water, and perhaps cooking gas, which are controlled by the government.  Electricity is usually reliable. The availability of hot water depends upon the town in which you live. Many towns have hot water every other day for two to three hours. The Peace Corps supplies electric space heaters to Volunteers who need them.  
  
Moldova has a cash economy, and Moldovan banks and currency exchange offices are stringent about the condition of the U.S. banknotes they will accept because of concerns about counterfeit currency. Make sure that any U.S. currency you bring is not worn, torn, or written on and that the bills are fairly new ones. A few banks accept traveler’s checks; others allow cash withdrawals via credit card or ATM card. ATM crimes are common, but there are increasing numbers of the machines in both Chisinau and regional centers. Volunteers are advised to be cautious about which machines they use.  
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If you choose to move into your own housing, Peace Corps must ensure that it meets our housing criteria. This includes safety, private space, healthy environment, proximity to shopping and work, basic furniture with cooking space, and a private bathroom.  
  
We discourage you from having cash sent to you from home,
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===Living Allowance and Money Management ===
  
as sending money through international mail is risky. In an emergency, you can have money sent through Western Union or international bank transfer. Most businesses, including restaurants and hotels, do not accept traveler’s checks or credit cards. Those that do most commonly accept Visa.  
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You will receive a monthly living allowance in Romanian lei, which the Peace Corps will transfer by wire directly into your bank account. The exchange rate in February 2008 was approximately 2.51 RON (Romanian New Lei) to the dollar. The living allowance is intended to cover the costs of food, utilities, household supplies, clothing, recreation and entertainment, local transportation, reading materials, and other incidentals. The Peace Corps discourages you from supplementing your living allowance with additional money from home. You are expected to live in an unpretentious manner in order to fit in with your community.  
  
It is also recommended that you keep a U.S.bank account with ATM capabilities to access money from home. It will be the easiest way to deposit your readjustment allowance when you complete your Volunteer service (versus having a check mailed to your home of record).
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Credit cards can be used on a limited basis in Bucharest and other large cities—usually only at expensive restaurants, shops, and hotels (do not let them out of your sight, accompany the clerk/waiter to the machine to scan the card). Bank ATMs are quite common throughout Romania and most of them support withdrawals from stateside bank accounts, but check with the issuing bank before going. Personal checks cannot be cashed in Romania, so it is advisable to bring some pristine American currency (worn or old notes or those with marks of any kind may not be accepted) in $10 and $20 denominations for vacation travel. Exchange bureaus in Romania will not change $1 bills and may not change $5 bills. Traveler’s checks are another option for vacation travel, yet are not commonly accepted in Eastern Europe.
 
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It is important to recognize that your Moldovan co-workers and friends will not have large sums of money or credit cards and that conspicuous displays of wealth on your part could drive a wedge between you and them. The Peace Corps strongly discourages you from living beyond your monthly allowance.  
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===Food and Diet ===
 
===Food and Diet ===
  
Moldovans love to cook, and they love their guests to eat a lot.  Many traditional Moldovan dishes have roots in the Slavic and Romanian cultures. Pork is the meat of choice, followed by chicken and turkey. Beef, although becoming more popular, may not be of the quality you are used to. The pork, however, tends to be tender and tasty.  
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The variety of food in Romania is steadily increasing, especially in larger towns. In the summer, fresh vegetables and fruits of very good quality are widely available. In the winter, apples, oranges, and bananas are likely to be available, but there are fewer fresh vegetables. Meat and bread are the predominant foods in the Romanian diet and are usually eaten at every meal. As the Romanian economy moves toward a free market, the availability of imported foods is increasing dramatically, although the imports are more expensive than locally produced items. American and local fast-food restaurants also exist in many parts of the country.  
  
The national dish of Moldova is mamaliga, which is made from cornmeal and tastes somewhat like polenta. It is served with soft cheese, meat, eggs, butter, or fish. Another interesting dish is achituri, which consists of chicken pieces in a brothlike jelly made of bone marrow and is usually served cold. Coltsunashi, which is similar to ravioli, is usually filled with potato, cheese, cabbage, and meat (or sometimes cherries) and served with butter or sour cream. Friptura is a beef or pork stew, sometimes baked with dough on top and usually served with vegetables. Similar to Greek dolmades, sarmale consists of grape leaves, green peppers, or cabbage stuffed with rice, meat, and vegetables. Moldovan barbecue is called frigarui or shashlik. Borsh is made with cabbage and other vegetables, and chiorba is made with meat, beans, and pasta. Zeama is a tasty chicken soup. Placinta, a baked or fried pastry, is filled with potato, cheese, cabbage, or fruitFoods that should taste more familiar include brinza (a soft cow or sheep cheese), cashcaval (a hard, mild cheese), smintina (similar to sour cream), pilaf (rice with meat and vegetables), clatite (similar to crêpes), and tocanista (cooked vegetables).
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Vegetarians may have a difficult time in Romania during the winter months when fewer fresh vegetables are availableThey may need to adjust their diet to stay healthy. In addition, being offered meals heavy on meat will be a challenge when visiting Romanian families.  
 
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Vegetarians may find it challenging to maintain their usual diet.  It may also be difficult to explain why you are a vegetarian in a meat-and-potatoes culture. Although the concept of vegetarianism will not be entirely new to most Moldovans, you should expect some surprise and confusion. You will have to be clear about what you can and cannot eat (e.g., most soups have meat-based broths). You will also have to be sensitive and gracious when Moldovans try to prepare special food for you. If you offer to cook your own food, Moldovans will be curious to see how someone can actually prepare a dish with no meat. Yet many Moldovan dishes can easily be made without meat, so there is no reason why you cannot maintain a healthy vegetarian diet in Moldova. Vegans will have a more difficult time maintaining their diet and should consult the health unit in Moldova about their situation.  
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===Transportation ===
 
===Transportation ===
  
Operation of motor vehicles of any kind (i.e., cars, motor scooters, and motorcycles) is prohibited for Peace Corps Volunteers. Violation of this policy will result in termination of your service. Although you may ride a bicycle, Peace Corps policy mandates the use of a bicycle helmet, which the Peace Corps provides, at all times.  
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Getting around via train, bus, or “maxi-taxi” is usually quite easy and reliable, albeit often slow, and the costs are reasonable. Some Volunteers may have a 12- to 14-hour train ride to travel to the Peace Corps office in Bucharest.  Volunteers in Romania are not allowed to own or drive cars or motorcycles, or to ride as a passenger on a motorcycle, for any reason.  
  
You will rely mostly on public transportation in Moldova. All the towns and villages in which Volunteers are placed have regularly scheduled bus or “maxi-taxi” service to Chisinau and other towns. In the case of an emergency, Peace Corps staff can get to any site within four hours by car.  
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International train and air service is readily available. The Peace Corps encourages you to travel within Romania or to other countries in eastern and central Europe on your vacations to enhance your understanding of the country and the region.
  
===Geography and Climate ===
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Some transportation websites in Romania include the following:
  
The landscape of Moldova consists of hilly plains with an average altitude of about 150 meters (495 feet) above sea level, which flatten gradually toward the southwest. Old forests called codrii cover the central part of the country. Moldova is in an earthquake zone connected to the Carpathian Mountains. The last major earthquake occurred in 1989.  
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[http://www.cdy.ro/home.php C&I Personal Transportation Minibus]
  
Moldova’s two major rivers are the Nistru and the Prut, and a short span of the Danube crosses the extreme southern part of the republic. There are more than 3,000 small rivers or tributaries, of which only seven are longer than 50 miles.  Moldova has more than 50 natural lakes and is rich in mineral-water springs.  
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[http://cfr.ro Mersul Ternurilor Train Schedule]
  
The country has a temperate climate with four definite seasons; some Volunteers liken it to Minnesota. Summers are warm and humid, with an average high temperature in July of 80 degrees Fahrenheit; hot days in the 90s are not unusual.  Winters are cold. Temperatures can remain below zero degrees Fahrenheit for weeks, and although snowfall is not extreme, it can remain on the ground for a month or more.  Some offices and classrooms are poorly heated during the winter, requiring Volunteers to dress warmly for work. Spring and autumn are usually beautiful with mild temperatures.
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===Geography and Climate ===
  
===Social Activities ===
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Romania is the largest central European country after Ukraine. The Danube River forms its southern border, and the U-shaped Transylvanian Alps and Carpathian Mountains extend through much of the central and northern regions. An eroded plateau with hills and valleys occupies the center of the U, while the Moldavian plateau lies to the east. Mountains account for about a third of Romania, with alpine pastures in the higher regions and thick forests below. Another third is covered by lower hills dotted with orchards and vineyards.  The final third, mostly in the south and east, is an agricultural plain.
  
Chisinau, the capital, offers a wide variety of cultural and entertainment possibilities, such as opera, ballet, theater, circuses, and nightclubs (at which Moldovans love to dance). The options decrease, however, in proportion to the population of the community. In towns, there are cinemas, community centers, and universities at which plays, concerts, and other cultural events are occasionally presented. In villages, people socialize with relatives and friends, getting together in someone’s home for fun and relaxation.  
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Romania has long winters (lasting from mid-November through March), a delightful spring (April through May), a hot summer (June through August), and a beautiful autumn (September through mid-November). The winter months can be extremely cold and windy, especially in the mountains and the northern part of the country. The summer months can be very hot and humid, especially in the lowland areas. Rainfall is heaviest from April through July, averaging five inches in June.  
  
There are also a growing number of cafes and bars in Moldova, which offer alcoholic drinks ranging from vodka to champagne, and Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta, cigarettes, and snack foods like pizza.
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===Social Activities ===
  
It is extremely important to develop groups for social interaction, whether you live in a town or a village. Generally speaking, you should not expect to socialize with many single people of your own age. Moldovans tend to marry young and to stay married, so many young adults are likely to be married and have small children. Any single friends will probably be students.  
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The cultural and social life of Romania is one of its most enjoyable aspects. You will have opportunities to attend inexpensive concerts, operas, and ballets, some of which are outstanding. The works of Shakespeare are performed alongside those of contemporary foreign authors and classic Romanian writers such as Ion Luca Caragiale. Cinemas in larger towns often show English-language films with Romanian subtitles. Entertainment at your site will depend on the town’s size. Some sites have a cinema and various sporting activities. Soccer, basketball, handball, tennis, and karate are the most popular. Dance clubs and discos also exist in most sizable towns. For winter activities, you can ski in the mountains or ice skate at local rinks. During the summer, visiting the Black Sea coast and hiking in the mountains are favorite forms of recreation. Many social activities center around the family, and you will be invited to many family events at your site.  
  
 
===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior ===
 
===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior ===
  
One of the challenges of being a Peace Corps Volunteer is fitting into the local culture while maintaining your own cultural identity and acting as a professional all at the same time. It is not an easy situation to resolve, and we can only provide you with guidelines. As a member or representative of a school faculty, business development center, nongovernmental organization, farmers’ association, or health center, you will be expected to display sensitivity and respect toward your supervisor and colleagues in order to develop mutually beneficial working relationships.  
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One of the challenges for you as a Peace Corps Volunteer is fitting into the local culture while maintaining your own cultural identity and acting as a professional all at the same time. Your appearance at work can help set the appropriate tone and make your adjustment to your site easier. Romanians tend to dress up more for the office than Americans do, partly because it’s a luxury to be able to do so after so many years of communist rule. Because of this, they may react negatively to the equally extreme casualness of some American dress, such as baggy jeans. While you are at work, you will demonstrate respect and win credibility if you dress in a professional manner, as they do. Most of the people you work with will not have expensive clothes, or large quantities of clothes. For Volunteers, in most cases, pressed shirts, slacks, skirts and sweaters are fine. A suit or sports jacket or a dressy dress or skirt will be needed for special occasions.  
  
As a rule, Moldovans give a lot of attention to the way they dress. Dressing professionally and neatly is regarded as a sign of respect toward others and is important for gaining credibility with Moldovans. This cannot be overestimated. In general terms, Americans tend to dress casually and place more emphasis on what a person knows and what a person can do rather than on outward appearances. It can be difficult for Americans to understand the cultural significance of dressing appropriately and dressing well. Nonetheless, it is an expectation for Volunteers in Moldova to dress professionally when at the workplace. The more quickly you can adapt to this norm, the more easily you will integrate into your living and working communities in Moldova. Please plan the wardrobe you will bring with you accordingly. Obvious and multiple facial piercings are not acceptable for Volunteers serving in Moldova and highly visible tatoos may also need to be covered. Please contact the country desk if you have any questions.
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Observing what your co-workers wear is the best way to identify the appropriate dress code for different situations. As in the United States, people in larger cities tend to dress more formally than those in smaller cities and towns. Your program sector may also influence how you dress. Environment Volunteers can wear more casual clothes at work but still need some formal clothes for meetings with agencies and certain school activities. Community economic development and institutional development Volunteers dress in business-casual or business clothes, the latter meaning jackets and ties for men and dresses, skirts or pants with tops, or suits for women. In some organizations, particularly in smaller cities, jeans for men and women are the norm, except when meeting with authorities or attending special events. TEFL Volunteers work in schools, where women wear dresses and skirts or pants with tops and men wear slacks with shirts and sweaters (and sometimes ties). Younger Volunteers will boost their professional demeanor by dressing somewhat more conservatively than they might in the States.  
 
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Teachers in Moldova tend to dress more formally than teachers do in the United States. Business casual is the appropriate attire for men, whether working for a nongovernmental organization or a school. Most women may wear professional-looking dresses or skirts and tops, but nice slacks are also acceptable in most places.
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Another cultural issue that you will need to manage is the drinking of alcohol. This is an extremely delicate issue in Moldova because you must strike a balance between being an active participant in Moldovan culture while appropriately representing Americans and the Peace Corps. Many Moldovans make their own wine, and they will want you to try it. Being very good hosts, they will make sure that your glass is always full and insist that you keep drinking. You will have to decide for yourself how much it is appropriate to drink or learn to refuse politely but firmly if you do not want to drink at all. While cultural sensitivity and social graces are important, it is more important that you know your limits and not endanger your health or your safety, or those of others.  
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===Personal Safety ===
 
===Personal Safety ===
  
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 (oftentimes 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 the vast majority of Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents.  
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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 (oftentimes 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 Romania Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents. The most common crime reported by many foreigners and tourists in Romania is pickpocketing. The next most common street crime involves the non-existent "Tourist Police." No plainclothes police officers will ever approach you on the streets. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be reviewed once you arrive in Romania. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.
 
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The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Moldova.  These policies include limits on your travel within Moldova, when you can be out of the country, and the need to keep Peace Corps informed of your whereabouts. Such policies can be frustrating for Volunteers, but they are meant not only for your safety, but to ensure that your service is productive and rewarding. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.  
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===Rewards and Frustrations ===
 
===Rewards and Frustrations ===
  
Although the potential for job satisfaction in Moldova is quite high, like all Volunteers, you will encounter numerous frustrations. Because of financial or other challenges, collaborating agencies do not always provide the support they promised. In addition, the pace of work and life is slower than what most Americans are accustomed to, and some people you work with may be hesitant to change long-held practices and traditions, including some stemming from the Soviet era.  
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The Peace Corps experience can be described as a series of emotional peaks and valleys that occur as you adapt to a new culture and environment. The potential for being productive and satisfied with your service is high, but so is the probability of being frustrated. Your school or organization may not always provide the support that you want, or it may not be sure about what it wants you to do. The pace and focus of life and work may be different from what you expect, and many people will be reluctant to change age-old practices.  
  
You will be given a high degree of responsibility and independence in your work—perhaps more than in any other job you have had or will have. You will often find yourself in situations that require an ability to motivate yourself and your counterparts with little guidance from supervisors. You might work for months without seeing any visible impact from, or without receiving feedback on, your work. Development is a slow process. Positive progress most often comes after the combined efforts of several Volunteers over the course of many years. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without seeing immediate results.  
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On the positive side, you will be given a high degree of responsibility and independence in your work—perhaps more than in any other job you have had. You will find yourself in situations that require an ability to motivate yourself and your co-workers with little support or guidance from supervisors. You may work for months without seeing any visible impact from, or without receiving any supportive feedback on, your work. Development is a slow process. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without seeing immediate results.  
  
To overcome these difficulties, you will need maturity, flexibility, open-mindedness, and resourcefulness. Moldovans are warm, friendly, and hospitable, and the Peace Corps staff, your co-workers, and fellow Volunteers will support you during times of challenge as well as in moments of success. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the rewards of service are well worth the difficult times, and most Volunteers leave Moldova feeling that they have gained much more than they sacrificed during their service. If you are able to make the commitment to integrate into your community and work hard, you will be a successful Volunteer.  
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To overcome these difficulties, you will need maturity, flexibility, open-mindedness, and resourcefulness. Romanians are warm, friendly, and hospitable, and the Peace Corps staff, your co-workers, and fellow Volunteers will support you during times of challenge as well as in moments of success. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the peaks are well worth the difficult times, and most Volunteers leave Romania feeling that they have gained much more than they gave during their service. If you make the commitment to integrate into your community and work hard, you will be a successful and satisfied Volunteer.  
  
[[Category:Moldova]]
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[[Category:Romania]]

Revision as of 09:35, 8 December 2015

Country Resources

Communications

Mail

Mail service in Romania is quite reliable. Mail from the United States takes a minimum of one to two weeks to arrive. Advise your family and friends to write “Airmail” and “Par Avion” on their envelopes.

Your mailing address during pre-service training (for letters only) will be:

“Your Name”
Peace Corps/Romania
Str. Negustori, Nr. 16
Sector 2, Bucharest
023954 Romania

Do not have packages sent to you during the 10-week training period. All packages go to a central post office in Bucharest, and you must pick them up personally to prove who you are and pay the customs fees. This will be virtually impossible for you to do during training and the Peace Corps cannot do it for you, so you could lose anything that is sent. The Peace Corps will forward letters sent to the Peace Corps office in Bucharest to the training site on a regular basis. Once you have been sworn-in as a Volunteer, you will have your own mailing address at your new site. Express mail from the United States is becoming more common, and DHL, UPS, and World Express all offer services in Romania.

Alternatives to Mail

Since the U.S. Postal Service ceased the surface shipping service worldwide in May 2007, sending goods overseas can seem prohibitively expensive. However, viable, economical options do exist to Romania.

Romanian-born Americans have a very strong tradition of sending parcels back to family and friends in Romania. Because of the high volumes involved, a number of independent small shipping companies have cropped up in areas of the United States with concentrations of Romanian immigrants. Particularly strong in Chicago and Detroit, such agents also exist in other places.

The cost is in the range of $0.80 to $1.20 per pound. An additional advantage is that because the duties are paid in advance by the sender there is no need for the recipients to go to the vama (customs office) to claim the packages. They are therefore delivered directly to the home/work site in Romania without further cost.

The most recent list of known shippers is contained in the Files Section of the "peacecorpsromania" Yahoo Group.

Telephones

Telephone service in Romania is not as reliable as what you are accustomed to in the United States, although it is improving in most places, especially as mobile phone services increase. Sprint, MCI, and AT&T provide international long-distance services in Romania, and you can access such services from public phones or post office phones. Regular long-distance calls from private phones are possible but expensive. Many Volunteers purchase their own mobile phones as the best option for making calls. Prepaid cards that offer a variety of discounts for both telephone and Internet access are available locally.

Cell phones purchased in the US may work in Romania, provided they are unlocked to accept out-of-network SIMM cards and are tri-/quad-band phones compatible with Romanian frequencies. Many volunteers with internet access find Media:http://www.skype.com (also available in netcafes) to be a superior option.

Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access

Many Volunteers find having their own laptop computer very useful. Access to the Internet is available at some organizations, though some will have older, slower systems.

If you decide to bring a laptop, we advise you to insure it against breakage and theft. The Peace Corps will not reimburse any expenses for repairs or lost or stolen equipment; nor does it provide technical support to Volunteers. If you choose to obtain Internet service where you live, you will have to pay for it out of your living allowance. Refurbished desktop computers with warranties can be bought in some Romanian cities for $200 to $300. There are also cybercafes at which you can access the Internet (at varying connection speeds).

Housing and Site Location

You will live with a Romanian family in your assigned site for one to two months after being sworn-in as a Volunteer. Living with a family will give you an anchor in your new community.

The connection to a family will help ensure your safety and security as well as integrate you into the community.

Through this experience, you will improve your language skills and gain a better understanding of Romanian culture and the norms of your local community. After your initial months at site with a Romanian family, you and your host organization will locate appropriate permanent housing for you.

Your host organization will identify housing for you that meets Peace Corps standards for safety, privacy, a healthy environment, and proximity to shopping and work. The Peace Corps asks host organizations to provide housing, but contributes part of or even the entire rental cost, if necessary. The populations of towns and cities where Volunteers live range from 5,000 to 300,000, and the type and availability of housing varies accordingly. Volunteers serve throughout Romania except in Bucharest, and there are regional differences in housing as well. The most common accommodation is a small, one-room apartment in a large building.

In rural communities, there are often only single-floor houses and privacy can become a difficult matter. If assigned to a rural community, you may need to live with a host family for the entire two years of your service.

In the winter, you may lack central heating, hot water, and perhaps cooking gas, which are controlled by the government. Electricity is usually reliable. The availability of hot water depends upon the town in which you live. Many towns have hot water every other day for two to three hours. The Peace Corps supplies electric space heaters to Volunteers who need them.

If you choose to move into your own housing, Peace Corps must ensure that it meets our housing criteria. This includes safety, private space, healthy environment, proximity to shopping and work, basic furniture with cooking space, and a private bathroom.

Living Allowance and Money Management

You will receive a monthly living allowance in Romanian lei, which the Peace Corps will transfer by wire directly into your bank account. The exchange rate in February 2008 was approximately 2.51 RON (Romanian New Lei) to the dollar. The living allowance is intended to cover the costs of food, utilities, household supplies, clothing, recreation and entertainment, local transportation, reading materials, and other incidentals. The Peace Corps discourages you from supplementing your living allowance with additional money from home. You are expected to live in an unpretentious manner in order to fit in with your community.

Credit cards can be used on a limited basis in Bucharest and other large cities—usually only at expensive restaurants, shops, and hotels (do not let them out of your sight, accompany the clerk/waiter to the machine to scan the card). Bank ATMs are quite common throughout Romania and most of them support withdrawals from stateside bank accounts, but check with the issuing bank before going. Personal checks cannot be cashed in Romania, so it is advisable to bring some pristine American currency (worn or old notes or those with marks of any kind may not be accepted) in $10 and $20 denominations for vacation travel. Exchange bureaus in Romania will not change $1 bills and may not change $5 bills. Traveler’s checks are another option for vacation travel, yet are not commonly accepted in Eastern Europe.

Food and Diet

The variety of food in Romania is steadily increasing, especially in larger towns. In the summer, fresh vegetables and fruits of very good quality are widely available. In the winter, apples, oranges, and bananas are likely to be available, but there are fewer fresh vegetables. Meat and bread are the predominant foods in the Romanian diet and are usually eaten at every meal. As the Romanian economy moves toward a free market, the availability of imported foods is increasing dramatically, although the imports are more expensive than locally produced items. American and local fast-food restaurants also exist in many parts of the country.

Vegetarians may have a difficult time in Romania during the winter months when fewer fresh vegetables are available. They may need to adjust their diet to stay healthy. In addition, being offered meals heavy on meat will be a challenge when visiting Romanian families.

Transportation

Getting around via train, bus, or “maxi-taxi” is usually quite easy and reliable, albeit often slow, and the costs are reasonable. Some Volunteers may have a 12- to 14-hour train ride to travel to the Peace Corps office in Bucharest. Volunteers in Romania are not allowed to own or drive cars or motorcycles, or to ride as a passenger on a motorcycle, for any reason.

International train and air service is readily available. The Peace Corps encourages you to travel within Romania or to other countries in eastern and central Europe on your vacations to enhance your understanding of the country and the region.

Some transportation websites in Romania include the following:

C&I Personal Transportation Minibus

Mersul Ternurilor Train Schedule

Geography and Climate

Romania is the largest central European country after Ukraine. The Danube River forms its southern border, and the U-shaped Transylvanian Alps and Carpathian Mountains extend through much of the central and northern regions. An eroded plateau with hills and valleys occupies the center of the U, while the Moldavian plateau lies to the east. Mountains account for about a third of Romania, with alpine pastures in the higher regions and thick forests below. Another third is covered by lower hills dotted with orchards and vineyards. The final third, mostly in the south and east, is an agricultural plain.

Romania has long winters (lasting from mid-November through March), a delightful spring (April through May), a hot summer (June through August), and a beautiful autumn (September through mid-November). The winter months can be extremely cold and windy, especially in the mountains and the northern part of the country. The summer months can be very hot and humid, especially in the lowland areas. Rainfall is heaviest from April through July, averaging five inches in June.

Social Activities

The cultural and social life of Romania is one of its most enjoyable aspects. You will have opportunities to attend inexpensive concerts, operas, and ballets, some of which are outstanding. The works of Shakespeare are performed alongside those of contemporary foreign authors and classic Romanian writers such as Ion Luca Caragiale. Cinemas in larger towns often show English-language films with Romanian subtitles. Entertainment at your site will depend on the town’s size. Some sites have a cinema and various sporting activities. Soccer, basketball, handball, tennis, and karate are the most popular. Dance clubs and discos also exist in most sizable towns. For winter activities, you can ski in the mountains or ice skate at local rinks. During the summer, visiting the Black Sea coast and hiking in the mountains are favorite forms of recreation. Many social activities center around the family, and you will be invited to many family events at your site.

Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior

One of the challenges for you as a Peace Corps Volunteer is fitting into the local culture while maintaining your own cultural identity and acting as a professional all at the same time. Your appearance at work can help set the appropriate tone and make your adjustment to your site easier. Romanians tend to dress up more for the office than Americans do, partly because it’s a luxury to be able to do so after so many years of communist rule. Because of this, they may react negatively to the equally extreme casualness of some American dress, such as baggy jeans. While you are at work, you will demonstrate respect and win credibility if you dress in a professional manner, as they do. Most of the people you work with will not have expensive clothes, or large quantities of clothes. For Volunteers, in most cases, pressed shirts, slacks, skirts and sweaters are fine. A suit or sports jacket or a dressy dress or skirt will be needed for special occasions.

Observing what your co-workers wear is the best way to identify the appropriate dress code for different situations. As in the United States, people in larger cities tend to dress more formally than those in smaller cities and towns. Your program sector may also influence how you dress. Environment Volunteers can wear more casual clothes at work but still need some formal clothes for meetings with agencies and certain school activities. Community economic development and institutional development Volunteers dress in business-casual or business clothes, the latter meaning jackets and ties for men and dresses, skirts or pants with tops, or suits for women. In some organizations, particularly in smaller cities, jeans for men and women are the norm, except when meeting with authorities or attending special events. TEFL Volunteers work in schools, where women wear dresses and skirts or pants with tops and men wear slacks with shirts and sweaters (and sometimes ties). Younger Volunteers will boost their professional demeanor by dressing somewhat more conservatively than they might in the States.

Personal Safety

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 (oftentimes 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 Romania Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents. The most common crime reported by many foreigners and tourists in Romania is pickpocketing. The next most common street crime involves the non-existent "Tourist Police." No plainclothes police officers will ever approach you on the streets. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be reviewed once you arrive in Romania. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.

Rewards and Frustrations

The Peace Corps experience can be described as a series of emotional peaks and valleys that occur as you adapt to a new culture and environment. The potential for being productive and satisfied with your service is high, but so is the probability of being frustrated. Your school or organization may not always provide the support that you want, or it may not be sure about what it wants you to do. The pace and focus of life and work may be different from what you expect, and many people will be reluctant to change age-old practices.

On the positive side, you will be given a high degree of responsibility and independence in your work—perhaps more than in any other job you have had. You will find yourself in situations that require an ability to motivate yourself and your co-workers with little support or guidance from supervisors. You may work for months without seeing any visible impact from, or without receiving any supportive feedback on, your work. Development is a slow process. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without seeing immediate results.

To overcome these difficulties, you will need maturity, flexibility, open-mindedness, and resourcefulness. Romanians are warm, friendly, and hospitable, and the Peace Corps staff, your co-workers, and fellow Volunteers will support you during times of challenge as well as in moments of success. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the peaks are well worth the difficult times, and most Volunteers leave Romania feeling that they have gained much more than they gave during their service. If you make the commitment to integrate into your community and work hard, you will be a successful and satisfied Volunteer.