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Packing Guidance for Moldova

This guidance is designed to describe appropriate clothing, the cultural context where you will be living and working, and the professional expectations of your workplace.

As you decide what to bring, keep in mind there is a 100-pound weight limit on checked baggage.

In general, most items you will need are available in country and locally acquired items are often the best at helping you integrate into your community. However, locally available items may not be the brands, quality, prices, or sizes you are used to. Bringing some key items from home might make your transition to service more comfortable.

This guidance has been compiled by Peace Corps staff and Volunteers and is based on their experience. Use this information as an informal guide as you make your own packing list, bearing in mind that each experience is individual. There is no perfect packing list!

This packing guidance is designed to help you think through different categories of items and consider what you might want to bring, considering work expectations, cultural considerations, and your own personal preferences.

Moldova is a small country in Eastern Europe, it has a continental climate, with four seasons, spring, summer, fall and winter, with each season lasting for three months. The country has no access to the sea, but to the southeast, about 50 km (30 mi) beyond the border with Ukraine, is the Black Sea, which however does affect the climate of the country.

Being that it’s a flat and small country, the climate is homogeneous, however, sometimes there can be 4-5’C differences between the north and the south, in addition it can snow in the north and not in the south. Moldova is not a rainy country; the rainiest months of the year are June and July.

Spring months are March, April and May and fall months are September, October and December, these seasons are quite short and pleasant. In May and September the minimum and maximum temperatures are respectfully around 12’C and 22’C (53”F and 72”F). In Spring the first mild or warm days can be followed by sudden drops in temperature with possible snowfalls, especially in March and in early April. In fall, the cold days occur in November and sometimes in October.

Winter months are December, January, and February. Winters in Moldova are cold, with an average temperature in January around -2’C (28.5 ‘F) in the center-north part and -1’C (30’F) in the South. There is snow in winter, and it occurs in forms of light snow.

Summers months are June, July and August. Summers are warm with July and August being the warmest months. The average minimum temperature in summer is 16’C (61’F) in the north and 18’C (64’F) in the center-south, while the maximum temperature is around 27’C (81’F) in the north and 29’C (84’F) in the south. There might be rains with thunderstorms in June and July and waves of heat with temperature rising to around 35’C (95’F) and above for several days. The sun shines quite frequently, in fact there are about 9/9.5 hours of sunshine per day from June to August. There can be floods in summer mostly because of the heavy rains which occur in the Carpatian region and then swell the Nistru river, which has its sources in that mountain range in Ukraine.

For winter days you will need to have warm clothes and boots, sweaters or fleece, a coat, a hat, gloves and a woolen scarf and a raincoat and umbrella.

For summers you will need light clothes, comfortable clothes and shoes, T-shirts, long pants and skirts, dresses, light sweaters for evenings and for cool days, a raincoat and umbrella.

In this package we provide more specific information on items to wear during each season at work and during your personal time.

During pre-service training (PST) or prior to Volunteers moving to the communities where they will serve, Peace Corps Moldova provides Trainees and Volunteers with the following essential items:

  • SIM card with voice and data package and a basic smartphone
  • Water filter
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Smoke carbon monoxide alarm detector
  • Yak tracks
  • Mosquito net
  • Medical kit (see the list of items)

Living allowance

Peace Corps Moldova will establish a bank account in your name during PST. After the PST The you will receive a settling-in allowance to support your needs to settle into your community. Volunteers use this money for housekeeping items such as:

  • Bed linen
  • Towels
  • Blanket
  • Pillow
  • Kitchen pot and pan
  • Kettle
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Desk lamp
  • Extension cord
  • Broom, mop
  • Mats
  • Hangers
  • Flashlight
  • Storage containers

Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take:

  • Pets
  • Weapons
  • Explosives
  • Radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted)
  • Drones
  • Automobiles or motorcycles
  • Flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers
  • Valuables such as precious jewelry or family heirlooms

Drugs

Do not bring any drug that has not been authorized by the Peace Corps for medical purposes without prior consultation with Office of Health Services Pre-Service. This includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Illicit drugs, including marijuana and related products such as CBD and herbal substances such as kratom, are prohibited during Peace Corps service, even if they are legal in your home of residence. If you use, possess, or distribute illicit drugs, you will be administratively separated from service.

Below is guidance on clothing expectations and cultural norms for work as well as leisure and recreation.

General clothing

Bring clothes that are comfortable, can be mixed and matched, that are easy to wash by hand and do not easily wrinkle. Although many Volunteer houses have washing machines, not all do. Dry cleaning exists but is unreliable, expensive, and generally not available in the villages. Moldovan families dry their clothing on a clothing line/rack outside and ironing the clothes is important. How much you bring really depends on how much you think you’ll personally need for two years. Bring as much multi-purpose clothing as possible. This means clothing you can wear in as many seasons as possible and clothing you’ll want to wear both to work and outside of work.

For the cold season (late fall and winter) most houses have gas boilers to heat their houses but majority will rely on ceramic stoves, called sobas, that are built into the walls and burn wood, coal, or corncobs for heating, which might be turned on late and during these times, it’s going to be cold in the building and you’ll want to have layers to wear. During the late fall and winter months it becomes dark as early as 4 p.m. and few villages have streetlights. Walking after dark can be hazardous, streets and sidewalks are muddy for a large part, so have good walking boots or shoes for this part of the year.

For hot summers, bring loose cotton dresses, knee length skirts, and breathable shirts.

Have at least two dressy outfits for events, as Volunteers are often invited to baptisms, weddings and other events and you may want to have more than one nice outfit.

The list of recommended items below was compiled by formerly serving Volunteers. You should consider carefully your own needs when making decisions what to bring.

Work clothing

There is a saying in Moldova: “You are welcomed by the way you are dressed.” According to Moldovan cultural norms, professionals are not expected to wear a different outfit every day, but instead ensure that your clothing is clean and pressed. Being neat and cleanly dressed is a sign of respect and pride in Moldova. Dirty or ripped clothing is unacceptable in professional and public environments.

Volunteers in Moldova are expected to dress professionally at the workplace and during Peace Corps training events. Dress code for Peace Corps trainings, including PST, is business casual. Slacks, dress shirts, and dress shoes, professional-looking dresses, pants or skirts and tops are appropriate attire. Skirts and dresses should come to the knees or longer. This is also the appropriate attire whether working for a nongovernmental organization or as a schoolteacher.

Very casual outfits like shorts, short skirts, leggings, tops that expose the stomach or lower back, low-rise pants, backless dresses, tank tops, spaghetti straps or strapless tops, flip-flops and rubber boots are considered inappropriate in rural and professional settings. On weekends, when you are not in training classes, you can wear jeans and more casual shirts and sweaters (plain, without sport or funny images and texts). In general, public schools and organizations pay a lot of attention to the way you dress that is why Peace Corps holds you to the same standards during your training.

Bring variety of business casual clothing for work, have some 5-6 outfits. Most items are reworn, even within the same week. Once you get to your community, you will be able to observe and adjust your outfit as appropriate.

You may wear a more formal or Moldovan traditional dress for your Swearing-In Ceremony and other official receptions.

Although most clothes are available locally, larger sizes may be difficult to find in Moldova. You can get pretty much anything you want in Moldova, but it’s easier to come prepared. Clothing prices in Moldova tend to be relatively similar to the U.S. so you may not save much money by waiting to buy clothing – similarly, you will not find that you have time to do this during PST.

Remember that you are going to have at least 6-7 hours of training every day, six days a week, and the classrooms don’t have air-conditioning or significant heating. So, make sure you choose appropriate to the season and comfortable business casual clothing. In addition, your training clusters will be located in rural areas and you will have to walk up to 45 minutes every day on unpaved roads. It is hot and humid during the summer in Moldova, and cold and muddy during fall and winter so be sure to have proper clothing for both work and relaxation. You will need comfortable shoes for walking and with a change to business casual shoes for classes (especially on rainy days and muddy roads).

Leisure and recreational clothing

Leisure

  • Undershirts, tank tops, lightweight T-Shirts, shorts, yoga pants, loose sweatsuit(s) leggings are appropriate for sleep and lounging at home and also often worn when helping with the work in the yard or gardens.
  • If working in the garden interests you, bring a comfortable, lightweight long-sleeve shirt and long pants that you don’t mind getting dirty. A baseball cap also helps because it can get hot.
  • Have some shirts that represents your university, this helps with having a connection with home and talking with people in your village about schools in America.

Exercise

  • It is appropriate to wear shorts and tank-tops for sports and exercise. If shorts are worn for exercise, they should be knee-length or longer.
  • Sports bras and tight-fitting leggings should be covered for public exercise.

Essentials

  • Pajamas for hot and cold weather.
  • Large size bras and sport bras. (It may be difficult to find in Moldova).
  • Socks, both wool and cotton, thin and thick for summer and layering, hiking socks such as smart wool, darn tough or others.

Underwear

  • Simple, no show, quick dry ½ sets of long cotton underwear for winter.
  • Pantyhose and tights, one fleece lined for in winter (are also available in Moldova). A few pairs of different colors that work well with the skirts and dresses you are brining. It helps with layering and making an outfit more professional in a school setting.
  • Several pairs of black tights and colorful tights if that’s your style. Fleece-lined tights are also lifesavers in the winter and are great for layering under pants.

Accessories

  • You may want to bring a few staple pieces you can wear regularly, and a few special items to wear for special occasions.
  • Have one or two ties.
  • Belts, money belt or pouch or small purse.
  • Nail care items such as clippers and emery boards.
  • Hairbrush, ponytail bands, hairpins, headbands, hairclips.
  • Sunglasses.

Shoes for work

  • You may want to bring comfortable shoes for walking and change them to business casual shoes for the professional environment.
  • For the warm season select comfortable styles with sturdy, thick soles, bring some dress sandals that are suitable for hot weather.
  • Shoes with straps are good for walking on uneven ground.
  • Flats or shoes with thin soles will likely not last very long. Have one or two pairs of comfortable and nice flats or short heels. Moldovan women wear high heels a lot but only wear them if you’re comfortable.
  • For the cold season, have one or two pairs of nice and comfortable ankle boots with a zipper not ties, one pair something fashionable, warm and preferably dressier. The dressier boots can substitute for work shoes during the winter. Warm, professional winter boots can be found for a good price in small towns in Moldova. Waterproof boots (e.g., rubber duck boots with removable lining) can be bought here cheaply. There is a lot of mud in winter in the villages. Many volunteers wear winter boots when it is snowy or muddy and switch boots once they get to work.

Leisure shoes

  • Running shoes, sneakers that you can walk on rocky dirt roads with, or other shoes that are easy to slip on and off.
  • Flip flops or sandals with straps. Sandals with straps are better if you are using them in the village.
  • A pair of easy slip-on outside shoes that will be dirtied by walking through mud, the garden, and with animals. These will be worn when moving around the host family’s land or when going to the outhouse.

You should bring a three-month supply of any prescription and/or over the counter medications you use that are authorized/approved by the Peace Corps.

Note: Prior to service, Peace Corps supplies all volunteers with a medical kit containing basic, over-the-counter medications, as well as multivitamins.

See a detailed list of items included in the medical kit.

The medical unit will replenish prescriptions after the initial three-month training.

If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pairs (of the current prescription) with you. Contact lens use will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

See additional guidance from the Office of Medical Services.

  • European chargers for dual-voltage devices when possible so there’s no need for converters or power converter for electrical appliances that require them.
  • Potentially a universal plug surge protector with a C outlet plug so you can charge multiple devices at once and also keep your computer safe in case of power surges.
  • Phone and computer chargers and extra charging cords, preferably one small one and one with multiple charges.
  • External battery in case the power is out during a storm or while traveling or a solar charger.
  • Volunteers who have brought their smartphones, laptops, or tablets have found them helpful.
  • Laptop power cord, carrying case (no matter which sector you are in, you will need a laptop to do your work)
  • Headphones. Bring multiple pairs, because cheap headphones in country will stop working after a couple of days.
  • Electronics are available and accessible in Moldova, but they are poor quality and very expensive.

Based on your interests and personal preferences there may be additional items you will want to consider bringing with you. Below is a description of the common activities Volunteers engage in and what different Volunteers have said they enjoy having that might be more difficult to find in-country. Note: these items are not required or even recommended, but they might be nice to have.

Cookware

  • Measuring cups and measuring spoons. You might want to cook foods from back home and not having to convert recipes to metrics will make it easier. Your host family also will almost certainly not have either.
  • A set of bamboo silverware.
  • Spices (some that are popular with Americans may be hard to find locally); popular items to bring include taco seasoning, hot sauce and ranch dip. Most spices can be found in the capital. Red pepper flakes, spicy spices are hard to find.
  • Brown sugar if you bake.
  • Water flavoring (Crystal light, etc)
  • Baking mixes (chocolate chip cookies, brownies, cakes, etc)
  • Plastic food storage zipper bags and Rubbermaid containers.
  • Starbucks Via packets (pumpkin spice and peppermint flavors). French press or stovetop espresso maker.
  • Your favorite ground coffee if you’re a big coffee drinker and thermos. Instant coffee is the norm here so if you want brewed coffee these are your best bet. These can also be bought here if you don’t want to pack them. Ground coffee can be found here too in most major grocery stores but less so in the villages.
  • Reese’s peanut butter cups, sour/gummy candy, or other “comfort food” items that are not available/hard to find in Moldova i.e. Goldfish, Taki’s, granola bars, Hot Cheetos

Gifts

While by no means required, a small gift can be a nice way to make early connections with host families and community members.

American candy, magnets, key holders, calendars of American scenes, coffee table books, and small knickknacks are very much appreciated.

Miscellaneous

  • Map of the U.S. to show your friends and co-workers where you are from.
  • Pictures of your family and friends.
  • Anything that will make you happy and feel at home (personal touches).
  • Depending on your interests, items to pass the time (alone or with others): small games, craft or art supplies, musical instrument (if you play one and can tolerate possible damage to it from the climate), sports or yoga equipment, etc.
  • Music: consider downloading a preferred app to your device while in the States.
  • Lightweight sleeping bag (good for overnight stays at other Volunteers’ homes).
  • Anything peculiar to the U.S. or specific to where you are from to share with friends and family during training and at your site: knickknacks, calendar with photos of US, small plastic toys, playing cards, stickers, postcards, coloring books, etc.
  • Cash. If you choose to bring cash, make sure it is not worn, torn, or written on, and that the bills are fairly new.
  • Reusable water bottle, a reusable to-go mug and long scrub brush to clean them is a version that comes as an attachment to your current water bottle.
  • Headlamp/flashlight when walking to the outhouse at night.
  • Small tool kit, you can also buy them at the local market.

Teacher’s supplies

  • Teachers should bring a good set of markers, some Sharpies (students love metallic colors and the black ones come in handy for projects), and a set of stickers. Colored pencils and crayons are a must.
  • A day planner if you like to use it.
  • Gel pens or a set of pens with fun colors.
  • A teacher's roster/gradebook is very useful for education volunteers.
  • Clear scotch tape and duct tape. Moldova does not have good quality scotch tape and every time.
  • Small overnight bag. Large tote bag to bring books back and forth to school for the first 2 months. An over-the-shoulder bag for teachers to carry laptop, books etc. and for shopping at the local markets. In most cases volunteers are taken less seriously if they show up to school on a daily basis with a backpack instead of a tote/purse.
  • Books. Peace Corps Moldova office has a library for volunteers with lots of books, as well.
  • Envelopes of various sizes and U.S. postage stamps.

Personal hygiene

  • Bath towel, wash rag, and shower shoes
  • Travel-sized toiletry kit or travel tubes so you can take product from your bigger bottles for short trips out of site, (IST, workshops, etc.)
  • Electric razor and regular disposable razors.
  • Laundry bag.
  • Set of towels (bath, hand, and face) and of bed sheets – can be bought in Moldova, too.
  • Wrinkle release spray for clothing.

Sports

  • You will have many opportunities to enjoy sports! Primarily football (soccer), but also basketball, and kickball. Sports can be a great way to connect with your community and students. Football and basketball equipment is available locally, but other types of sports equipment can be harder to find, such as baseballs/gloves, etc.
  • Travel yoga mat if you want to keep an exercise regimen in your first 2 months before you can go shopping. (You can buy a yoga mat in the capital after Pre-Service Training).