Why should I study abroad?
Studying abroad exposes you to cultures different from your own. Instead of reading about or attending lectures on another culture, you experience it first hand.
Why choose the Romanian Studies Program?
The RSP centers on being immersed in the culture by living with a host family and working alongside Romanians in service opportunities. Instead of living separately, you live among the people from whom you desire to learn. It gives you a unique perspective of true life in Romania, and enriches your learning and service experiences. You are academically challenged, but everything is very practical. You learn by doing.
How do you say Sighișoara?
See-gee-SHWAH-rah (rolling the “R”). Many foreigners affectionately call it “Sighi” for short.
Do I need a visa?
No. American citizens can come to Romania for a total of 90 days without a visa. This is why we expect you to leave the country for a few days on your mid-semester break. If you stay more than 90 days, you have to get a visa which is a very complicated and expensive process, or risk a fine as you leave the country.
Besides a passport, what other documentation is required?
Bring 2 copies of your passport, and your Student ID from your home institution. An International Student ID may be useful in getting you reductions at museums and palaces when you travel outside of Romania on your mid-semester break: https://www.isic.org/get-your-card/ Leave a copy of your passport at home with your parents in case of emergency. RSP students are not allowed to drive in Romania, so you do not need to bring your driver’s license.
Can I bring my laptop or tablet to Romania?
Yes. Before you come, check that your power supply can operate on 220 V. (Note: most power supplies are now made to handle 100-240V.) You can buy an electrical adapter in Sighișoara so your plug will fit the outlets here. If you choose to buy one in the US, Romania follows continental Europe’s electrical system.
Will I have a cell phone in Romania?
As in the US, having a cell phone in Romania will make life much simpler. You have two basic options: bring your own or buy one once you arrive in Romania.
You are welcome to bring your US cell phone if you have an international plan. If you have a quad-band cell phone, you can use it here. If you get it “unlocked” before you leave home, you can buy a pre-paid SIM card in Romania and top it up as needed. Otherwise you can buy an inexpensive card here and pay as you go.
Should I bring my computer?
Yes, we strongly recommend that you bring a laptop, though it is not required. Having a computer will be helpful in completing assignments, connecting to the Internet and staying in touch with loved ones back home. Most host families now have WiFi, as do Veritas buildings. There are also several cafes in the town center where you can pick up WiFi. If you do not bring a computer, you will be able to use a desk-top computer at the House on the Rock, Veritas Educational Center where you will have classes.
How can I best communicate with my family?
The best way to keep in touch is through your computer, by e-mail or Facebook. Another great option is Skype. One challenge is scheduling a call as Romania is seven hours ahead of New York or Boston. The other challenge is the temptation to spend so much time connected to friends and family back home that you neglect opportunities to spend time developing relationships with Romanians. In the early days of the RSP students typically received one or two letters a month from people back home. Today communication is so easy, but discipline is needed to maintain a good balance.
Can I receive mail while I am in the RSP?
Yes. Letters or packages can be sent to: [Your name], c/o Veritas, Strada Horea Teculescu Nr 34-36, Sighișoara, Romania. It generally takes just over a week for a letter to arrive from the US, and anywhere from 3-6 weeks for packages to arrive. Please note you may be required to open your package for customs officials, and will be charged import duty on packages valuing $30 or more. New items are less likely to be taxed if removed from original packaging.
How much of the language will I actually learn?
That depends on you! Some students get to the place where they can carry on lengthy conversations in Romanian, others make considerably less progress. Learning a language requires discipline and hard work. Some students absorb grammar and new vocabulary quickly and make every effort to communicate in Romanian. Others tend to stay around English speakers and, consequently, do not learn to use the Romanian language effectively. It all depends on the effort you put into it, previous experience you have learning languages, and your willingness to use what you have learned even if you make mistakes. Students who know Spanish, French or Italian find Romanian easier as they are all Romance languages (cousins).
What do I pay for?
You pay your home institution the same as you would for a semester on campus (tuition plus room and board). This includes your tuition, meals, housing and transportation once you are in Romania, translators when necessary, use of text books, and other educational and cross-cultural experiences. In addition to what you pay your home institution, you are responsible for the cost of your plane ticket, passport and other travel documents, and souvenirs and gifts you want to buy in Romania.
How much money should I bring with me?
The money you pay to your school for participation in the RSP covers all of your necessary expenses:
- airport transfers
- room and board
- lunches at Veritas
- group excursions
Each week you will receive an additional allowance to pay for extra snacks or food. You will need about $100 a month for personal items: toiletries, stamps, souvenirs, or an occasional pizza. The easiest way to access money is with a debit card from an ATM – the card should have a “chip”, and you should notify your bank ahead of time that you will be in Romania. You should find out too what the charge is for international ATM withdrawals. If you bring cash with you, it should be in crisp, new bills of $20, $50 or $100, and not be torn, creased, stained or scribbled on. You will need additional money to cover travel outside of Romania on your mid-semester break.
Will I be the only American there?
No. The number of semester-abroad students varies from semester to semester, sometimes there are as many as seven or eight, at other times only one or two. However, you will join several short-term and seasoned missionaries from the United States, Great Britain, and other parts of the world. Students and professors in the RSP join other westerners each week for a time of dinner, encouragement, and prayer for one another, and periodically get together for a trip, a hike or a social time together.
Can I have visitors while I’m in Romania?
The purpose of the Romanian Studies Program is to provide cross-cultural service learning opportunities and immersion into Romanian culture. This cannot be accomplished if too much of the students’ time is spent hosting friends or family. However, upon permission of the RSP director, friends or family members may come for a short visit, which will help students be able to share their experience with loved ones at home.
Do I need special immunizations?
No special immunizations are required. Check with your health care provider to make sure your immunizations up to date and won’t expire while you are in Romania. Recommended vaccinations: tetanus, hepatitis A & B before coming to Romania and a PPD (Tuberculosis skin screening) 6 months after returning to the US. Hepatitis and tuberculosis are not uncommon among poor Romanians who live in substandard housing. In 20 years only one student out of nearly 500 has contracted hepatitis, no-one has gone home with tuberculosis.
Is Romania safe?
Americans generally feel that they are much safer on the streets of Romania than they are in the United States. Very few Romanians own firearms, and because fewer people own cars, there are more people walking on the streets at all time of day and late into the evening. Students are expected to use caution walking alone at night, and to take good care of their valuables – petty theft is a big problem in Romania. However, in a small town there is little likelihood of a terrorist attack and Romania is not currently dealing with negative effects of the European migrant crisis.
The Ukraine is a neighboring country (the capital Kiev and the Crimean Peninsula are both about two days’ drive from here), and so some Americans have worried that Romania might also become a victim of Russian aggression. Romania is a member of NATO and of the European Union, both of which assure it of protection. Romanians feel empathy for Ukrainians but no longer live in fear of the Russian threat.
What happens if I decide to come back to Romania in the future?
If you are thinking of coming back to see Romanian friends, it would be good to let the RSP and Veritas staff know that you are coming. They will want to see you. Several students have chosen to return to Romania as volunteers for short or longer periods of time, following their exposure to Romania as a student. You may choose to volunteer directly with Veritas or to come through Nazarene Mission Corps, which has the advantage of giving you a structure for fund-raising, insurance etc. Your first step should be to contact Veritas at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask how you can be of service and to establish dates when you might usefully come. You will receive an application form that includes a request for references, a document outlining policies and expectations for volunteers, and up-to-date budget information.
To what city should I fly?
If flying directly to Romania from the US, plan to travel to the Henri Coandă International Airport (OTP) in Bucharest, Romania. Bucharest is five hours by road from Sighisoara – RSP will send someone to meet you. If you expect to travel in Europe before arriving in Romania, you can check to see if there are convenient cheap flights into Targu Mures, only an hour’s drive from Sighisoara.