Is This Where You Should Volunteer In Europe?
The opportunity to volunteer in Europe is here! We’ve recently added two new programs to our volunteer travel destinations; Italy and Romania. Most people know about Italy; where it’s located, what you can do there, and how much it has to offer. Romania however is somewhat like its history and folklore; mysterious and enigmatic.
If you’re reading this blog, then we have one thing in common; a love of volunteering abroad! So let’s start by looking at the awesome volunteer opportunities that the IVHQ Romania program offers.
You have the chance to participate on a number of different projects in Romania, which gives you the opportunity to become a part of the local community and contribute to its development. It’s all about sustainability, so can be assured that these projects are contributing to the achivement of important long-term social goals.
You have the chance to teach local children from disadvantaged backgrounds on the Teaching project, help engage and care for people with disabilities on the Special Needs Care project, or assist in looking after some of the 82,000 children that live in state care on the Childcare project.
You can participate in this valuable work all while living with a local family, getting to know them and sharing their everyday lives. Or, if you prefer, you can stay in a volunteer house, with other IVHQ volunteers from all over the world.
Romania as a place to visit has something to offer everyone; the more relaxed traveler and the adrenaline junkie, the scholar and the sports star, the foodie or the drinkie (did I just make up a word?). So find your niche below and discover why our Romania volunteer program is the right fit for you!
For Historians, reading enthusiasts and the superstitious
Are you a lover of literature, a history buff or, let’s be honest, a vampire hunter? Because if you are, then Romania might just tickle your fancy!
Whether you want to stay close to Miercurea Ciuc, where the IVHQ Romia program is based, or if you are keen to travel further afield, there is something historically impressive around every corner. You can visit the medieval Saxon towns of Sighișoara and bask in the glory of the most stunning and well preserved inhabited citadel in Europe. Or maybe you could try the Cultural Palace in Târgu Mureş (2 hours from the accommodation) and enjoy the opulent hallways, massive mirrors (imported from Venice of course!), Art Museum and Archaeological Museum that are housed there. Also, and I just have to add this in here for people like me who are big nerds, the Teleki Library has over 230,000 rare books. I could not be more excited!
Try visiting the Peleş Castle in Sinaia. Of all the castles in Transylvania, and there are many, this is a goodie. It is a castle straight out of a fairy tale; with turrets, wood-carved ceilings and rolling green meadows surrounding it. You could also visit Bran Castle, also known as Dracula’s Castle, which has a somewhat questionable connection with Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’. Regardless, it is an amazingly beautiful castle that has art, furniture and a small open air museum park exhibiting traditional Romanian peasant structures from all over Romania.
Which brings us to what most people think of when they hear ’Transylvania’ – vampires. Vampires, and other mythical creatures of folklore, are wrapped up in the perception of Transylvania, so much so that Transylvania has been known to be confused for a fictional place, existing only in vampire folklore and between the pages of books. The most famous example of this would be Bram Stoker’s book Dracula, which is arguably based on Transylvanian-born Vlad III Dracula of Wallachia.
For Outdoorsy, Sporty and Adventurous types
Some of you are probably thinking this all sounds a bit too… scholarly. Well calm right down because in Transylvania there is endless amounts of sports, adventures and outdoor exploits to sink your teeth into (haha see what I did there).
Transylvania means “the land across the forest” or “the land beyond the forest” and as the name suggests, there is a whole lot of forest to explore. Located near the Carpathian Mountains, volunteers on the IVHQ Romania program have the opportunity to spend time outdoors looking and exploring the spectacular landscape that includes the Olt river, hardwood forests, lush pastures and wildflower-filled meadows.
If sitting and enjoying the ambience and serenity is not your thing, you could partake in any of the myriad of adventures and sports that are readily available. Want to go skiing? No problem. Hiking, rafting, speed skating, walking, biking, fishing, horse riding, caving or rock climbing? Absolutely! The IVHQ local staff in Romania will be more than happy to help you arrange your activities and tours so that you can engage in any and all of these amazing opportunities.
For Foodies, Wine Connoisseurs and Those Who Like a Good Shop
Romanai is also for people who like to enjoy the good things in life; food, wine and shops. Although it is not known for the cuisine, there’s great food and more importantly, wine in Romania. Go and visit some of the chic sidewalk cafes in the surrounding towns and try some of the more traditional food options, such as the ever popular cold cuts and cheeses that are an ever present part of the Romanian culture. Or try the ciorbă ţărănească (vegetable soup, with or without meat), the Tocaniţă (meat stew seasoned with onions and/ or spices), or some sarmale “ (pickled cabbage leaves stuffed with a mix of minced meats, rice and spices).
Kurtoskalacs, or chimney cake, is an experience in itself. This utterly joyful pastry, whose origins is in provincial Transylvania, is achieved by wrapping a long rope of sweet yeast dough around in a spiral around a wooden form (like a rolling pin) and dusted with sugar. It is then slowly baked, turning on a rotating spit above an open flame.
Wine experts have called Transylvania the heart of wine growing in Romania, and I certainly can’t disagree. There are so many options to enjoy and you could have the opportunity to go and enjoy a drink or 2 at the wineries themselves. I would recommend making a weekend of it! Get together with the other IVHQ volunteers and experience a different part of Transylvania on a visit to the Tarnave Vineyards.
Plus, shopping! Some might say the best part of traveling… Okay, maybe not the best but certainly an essential for those of us who like to bring back memories in the form of ‘souvenirs’. The best part of shopping in Transylvania is the rich folk tradition that accompanies it. You can find hand-painted eggs, ceramic vases, folk costumes, locally made leather goods and linen.
Still need convincing?
Above all else, Romania is a place where as a volunteer you help out the local communities, become a small part of their lives and to learn from them, as much as they learn from you. Discover more on the IVHQ Romania page.