Moldova

Living Conditions

Communications

Mail

Letters to and from Moldova typically arrive in two to three weeks. Advise family and friends not to send anything of value via flat mail. During pre-service training, letters should be sent to you at the following address: 

Your Name, PCT
Corpul Pacii
Str. Grigore Ureche 12
2001 Chisinau
Republica Moldova

Once you move to your site, you can make arrangements to receive mail and packages there, or continue to receive mail at the Peace Corps Office. 

Telephones

There are a number of ways to call the United States, but the cost 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. Unlocked GSM cell phone purchased in the United States will typically work here, but other cellular technologies will not.

Internet

If you have a laptop computer, you should consider bringing it, although Internet service in villages may be limited dial up or via the cellular phone network. Volunteers can access e-mail at the Peace Corps office or at cybercafes. Personal property insurance against damages or theft is a good idea.

Housing and Site Location

You will live with one host family during pre-service training and with another family for at least the first three months at your permanent site. You will have your own room, but you are likely to share kitchen, bath, and toilet facilities with the entire family. Houses seldom have indoor plumbing in most rural areas, so you may not have running water or an indoor toilet. 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. After your first three months at site, you will have the option of finding other housing that meets Peace Corps‘ safety requirements, and can be leased within the Peace Corps‘ housing allowance. Most Volunteers choose to live with a family throughout their two years of service and find the experience rewarding. Heating in winter can be problematic, as many municipalities cannot afford to turn on the heat until long after the weather has turned cold, and, even then, heating may be minimal or nonexistent for periods of time. For this reason, host families are required to have independent heating sources. Most families in villages rely on ceramic stoves which are built into the walls and burn wood, coal, or corncobs. In larger towns or cities, houses may have their own gas boiler.

Living Allowance and Money Management

After pre-service training, you will receive a monthly living allowance in local currency that will allow you to maintain your health and safety while living at a standard comparable to your Moldovan counterparts. Moldova has a cash economy, and Moldovan banks and currency exchange offices are stringent about the condition of the U.S. banknotes they will accept due to concerns about counterfeit currency. Make sure that any U.S. currency you bring is not worn, torn, or written on, and that the bills are fairly new. A few banks accept traveler‘s checks; others allow cash withdrawals via credit card or ATM card. There are increasing numbers of the machines in both Chisinau and regional centers, although Volunteers are advised to be cautious about which machines they use as ATM crimes are common. We discourage you from having cash sent to you from home, as sending money through international mail is risky. Furthermore, having your Peace Corps allowances substantially subsidized by funds from home runs counter to Peace Corps‘ philosophy of living at a similar level to those people with whom you work and serve. In an emergency, you can have money sent through Western Union or international bank transfer. 


Most businesses, including restaurants and hotels, do not accept traveler‘s checks or credit cards. Those that do, most commonly accept Visa. Some will charge you more for paying with a credit card. If possible, we recommend that you keep an U.S. bank account with ATM capabilities to assist you with accessing occasional or emergency money from home. It will be the easiest way for Peace Corps to provide you with your Readjustment Allowance when you complete your Volunteer service, and is typically easier and quicker than having a check mailed to your U.S. home of record. Once again, it is important to recognize that your Moldovan co-workers and friends will not have large sums of money or credit cards so conspicuous displays of wealth on your part could drive a wedge between you and them. The Peace Corps discourages you from living beyond your monthly allowance.

Food and Diet

Moldovans love to cook, and they love their guests to eat a lot. Many traditional Moldovan dishes have roots in the Slavic and Romanian cultures. Pork is the meat of choice, followed by chicken, turkey, beef, and rabbit. The national dish of Moldova is mamaliga, which is made from cornmeal and tastes somewhat like polenta or grits. It is served with soft cheese, meat, eggs, butter, or fish. Vegetarians may find it challenging to maintain their usual diet. It may also be difficult to explain why you are a vegetarian in a meat-and-potatoes culture. Although the concept of vegetarianism will not be entirely new to most Moldovans, you should expect some surprise and confusion. You will have to be clear about what you can and cannot eat. You will also have to be sensitive and gracious when Moldovans try to prepare special food for you.

Transportation

Operation of motor vehicles of any kind (e.g., cars, motor scooters, and motorcycles) is prohibited for Peace Corps Volunteers. Violation of this policy will result in termination of your service. Peace Corps policy also requires the use of a bicycle helmet, which the Peace Corps provides, when riding bicycles. Volunteers will rely mostly on public transportation in Moldova. All the towns and villages in which Volunteers are placed have regularly scheduled bus or maxi-taxi service to Chisinau and other towns. In the case of an emergency, Peace Corps staff can get to any site by car within four hours.

Social Activities

Chisinau, the capital, offers a wide variety of cultural and entertainment possibilities, such as opera, ballet, theater, circuses, and nightclubs (at which Moldovans love to dance). The options decrease, however, in proportion to the population of the community. In the smaller cities, there are cinemas, community centers, and universities at which plays, concerts, and other cultural events are occasionally presented. In villages, people socialize with relatives and friends, getting together in someone‘s home for fun and relaxation. It is extremely important to develop a network of friends for social interaction, whether you live in a town or a village. Generally speaking, you should not expect to socialize with many single people of your own age. Moldovans tend to marry young and to stay married, so most adults are likely to be married and have children. Any single friends will probably be students.

Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior

Dressing professionally and neatly is regarded as a sign of respect toward others and is important for gaining credibility with Moldovans. It can be difficult for Americans to understand the cultural significance of dressing appropriately and dressing well. Nonetheless, it is an expectation for Volunteers in Moldova to dress professionally when at the workplace. The more quickly you can adapt to this norm, the more easily you will integrate into your living and working communities in Moldova. In order to help Trainees and Volunteers to get off to the best start possible with host families, neighbors, and future work partners, Peace Corps Moldova staff strongly recommend Volunteers to remove obvious and multiple facial piercings and cover highly visible tattoos to aid Volunteers to be accepted initially by host families, supervisors, partners, students, and neighbors. Please contact the country desk if you have any questions. Teachers in Moldova tend to dress more formally than teachers do in the United States. Business casual (slacks, dress shirts, and dress shoes) is appropriate attire for men, whether working for a non-governmental organization or a school. Most women may wear professional-looking dresses or skirts and tops, but nice slacks are also acceptable in most places.