FAQs about Peace Corps in Moldova

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

For information see Welcomebooks

How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Moldova?

Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds those limits. 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 Peace Corps’ 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 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. Please check the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website for a detailed list of permitted and prohibited items at http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permittedprohibited-items.shtm.

What is the electric current in Moldova?

The current in Moldova is 220 volts. If you bring American electronics (which generally run on 110 volts) with you, you will need both a transformer to convert the 110 volts into 220 volts and a converter to fit the American-style plug into a Moldovan outlet. Transformers come in varying wattages, but they are designed to be used primarily with blow dryers, irons, and the like; they are not designed for more sensitive equipment like laptops. It is important to read the documentation carefully before buying a transformer for use in Moldova.

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. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs. There is no restriction on how much money you can bring into Moldova, but make sure you claim it or any undeclared money may be confiscated. You will be able to deposit this money in a U.S. dollar bank account.

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, the first three months of service, or the last three months of service, except in conjunction with an authorized emergency leave. 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 Moldova 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 bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses and minibuses to trucks and lots of walking.

What should I bring as gifts for Moldovan friends and my host family?

While this is not a requirement, it is culturally appropriate. 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 approximately the eighth week of pre-service training. This gives Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills prior to assigning sites, in addition to finalizing site selections with their ministry counterparts. You will have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, and living conditions.

However, 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. Most Volunteers live in small towns or in rural villages and are usually within one hour from the nearest Volunteer. Some Volunteers are assigned to the regional centers, and two or three are assigned to the capital. Some sites require a five- to six-hour trip from the capital via public transportation.

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.

Can I call home from Moldova?

The cost of international calls 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. Moldova CyberCommunity calling cards for calling the United States from Moldova are readily available at kiosks in Chisinau for a reasonable price. If your home does not have a phone, you should be able to use a neighbor’s phone or the local telephone office. International lines are clearest early in the mornings and on weekends. Moldovan time is seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

Should I bring a cellular phone with me?

Moldova has cellular phone service that covers most of the country. All Peace Corps staff members are equipped with cellphones to attend to emergency calls, and many Volunteers buy phones. However, differences in technology make most U.S. cellphones incompatible with the Moldovan systems. The GSM network is available here, but such phones need to be unlocked. One exception is the Motorola RZR series which is a Quad band phone. Unlocking can be done in Moldova for about $10. Volunteers who want to own a cellphone will need to buy it and pay for the service plan themselves. Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?

There are a number of Internet service providers in Chisinau, including America Online, but the cost of service, which the Peace Corps will not pay for, can be expensive on a Volunteer’s budget (the basic charge is approximately $10 to $25 per month). However that is a new option that allows you internet access from any landline phone and you only pay by the minute. You may be able to access e-mail at your work site, and there are several Internet cafes in Chisinau that you can use when you are in the capital. Several of the larger towns in Moldova also have Internet access.

Volunteers who have brought a laptop with them generally are glad they did. If you plan to bring a laptop, there are some things to consider: You must have a computer that is able to handle 220 volts because you cannot use an external transformer with a laptop. You also need a converter that will allow you to plug into local outlets (converters are available in Moldova for $1 to $2). Because Moldovan phone lines are slow, you will be unable to connect at high speeds, so a slower modem should suffice. Bring a good carrying case for lugging your computer around. It is a good idea to check your warranty to see what options are available in Europe for any needed repairs. Load your software on your computer before you leave and bring only the manuals and disks you believe will be critical to have in Moldova. You should also insure your computer.