FAQs about Peace Corps in Romania
- 1 How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Romania?
- 2 What is the electric current in Romania?
- 3 How much money should I bring?
- 4 When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- 5 Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- 6 Do I need an international driver’s license?
- 7 What should I bring as gifts for Romanian friends and my host family?
- 8 Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- 9 How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- 10 Can I call home from Romania?
- 11 Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
- 12 Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Romania?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.