While Count Dracula may be stuff of legends, the country of Romania has a long and fascinating history which beckons exploration nonetheless. From magnificent ancient castles to thriving modern cities, the European Union’s seventh most populous country is an enticing destination for volunteers from all over the world to come make a difference. Whether teaching English to children or working to preserve the large native brown bear population, volunteering abroad in Romania will be a fun and adventurous experience volunteers will not soon forget.
Bucharest, the nation’s capital, is the sixth largest city in the European Union and the center of cultural and financial activity in Romania. The city has had a long and very interesting history, which has most recently seen it withstand two world wars and communist occupation. Today, Bucharest is a highly flourishing city with beautiful architecture, many landmarks and museums, and a rejuvenated drive for economic development. Bucharest is by far the largest city in Romania, and indeed on of the most important hubs of activity in all of Eastern Europe, so those who are interested in volunteering in Romania will find plenty of opportunities in the nation’s capital.
The medieval city of Brasov is another popular location for volunteering in Romania. Centered in the infamous province of Transylvania, Brasov features a very well preserved historical center and is located near many attractions throughout the countryside.
Other potential cities where you may find volunteer work in Romania include Cluj-Napoca, Oradea, and Sinaia. Sweeping gothic architecture and medieval castles make these smaller cities truly rapturing sights to behold.
Projects & Placements
Education is a popular area of volunteering in Romania, and there are many openings to teach English throughout the cities and rural areas of the country. Volunteers who are interested in teaching in Romania can also enlist to help at community centers, after-school programs, or as private tutors teaching English or other subjects.
There are also many organizations which work to bring aid to community development throughout Romania. Though the country is developing respectably from its days behind the Iron Curtain, there are still many places which face significant infrastructural challenges. Working at an orphanage helping with childcare is a very common volunteer placement in Romania, and there are also many volunteer opportunities in healthcare, construction, and youth development.
Another fun option for volunteer work in Romania, for those interested in environmental conservation and habitat preservation, is volunteering to help protect the indigenous brown bear population. Romania contains about 50 percent of all brown bears in Europe, a demographic which faces the constantly increasing threat of human expansion. Volunteers can work everyday in defense of our furry friends and gain invaluable experience in the beautiful wooded areas of Romania.
Costs & Affordability
Good news – Romania is quite an affordable destination for volunteering abroad, as far as European countries go. The local currency is the Romanian leu, and most costs of living generally hover around 70 cents to $1. The upfront program fees are likely to be the most expensive part of volunteering abroad in Romania, but fundraising with friends and family or via crowdsourcing is a great way to cover part of the expenses.
Accommodation & Visas
Homestays are a very popular housing options for individuals who volunteer in Romania, providing volunteers with intimate exposure to local family life and the opportunity to make deep connections that last a lifetime. Many volunteer programs in Romania will also organize other group living options for volunteers, such as in an apartment or a flat. Living conditions will vary depending on what program you choose and where in Romania you are placed, but in general you can expect safe and comfortable accommodation.
Romania is a member of the European Union, so volunteers from most Western countries will only need to obtain a visa if they plan to volunteer in Romania for longer than the allotted 90 day stay. If you do plan on volunteering in Romania for over three months, then consult your specific volunteer program provider about what the right visa will be to do so.
Benefits & Challenges
Volunteering abroad in Romania will be a unique and challenging experience, one well worth your while in the sense that you are seeing a part of Europe not often travelled and at the same time giving back to underserved sectors of society.
From ancient to medieval to present times, Romania has been a land somewhat shrouded in mystery. For those ready to take the leap and volunteer abroad in Romania, programs will prove to be highly informative experiences in one of the most beautiful and culturally rich countries in Eastern Europe.