The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of each month, and volunteers need to arrive in Miercurea Ciuc the day before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flight to arrive at Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport (OTP). Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee. We recommend that volunteers under the age of 18 travel internationally with a notarized letter from their parents to support their documentation. Alternatively, you can arrive into Cluj Napoca Airport (CLJ) which will incur an additional pick up fee of 400 lei (about $100).
When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night prior to your start date.
If you are traveling in Romania prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up from a pre-arranged location in Miercurea Ciuc the day before your program orientation.
Orientation is hosted by our Romania team at their office in Miercurea Ciuc. It begins Monday morning and lasts for a full day. The orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Romania – Introduction to Romania, Culture and Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities, Introduction to Project and Placement as well as a tour of the local area. The orientation will also give you a chance to sign up for language lessons, and to meet other volunteers with whom you can swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
There are two options for orientation in Romania:
The first option is a standard full-day induction on your selected start date that covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Romania. You’ll be provided with an introduction to Romania, including Transylvania, Szekelyfold and Harghita counties, meet the program staff and get an overview of procedures. You’ll learn about the history of Romania and Hungary, religion, festivals, customs and traditions, dress/clothing, safety issues, food, transportation and travel opportunities and go through details about your volunteer project and accommodation.
The afternoon includes an introduction to the Hungarian language and a city tour of Miercurea Ciuc which is provided by local volunteers. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
The second option is a one-week cultural orientation which takes place during the first week of your program. This orientation week has an extra cost of US$300 (CA$395) and is very popular among IVHQ volunteers. We recommend all volunteers take advantage of this week as it’s a great way to help settle the culture shock you can face when arriving in Romania.
The Orientation Week begins on your selected start date and your volunteer work will start the following week. If you wish to participate in the one-week orientation, you’ll need to indicate this to your IVHQ Program Manager in advance. You need to book a place and pay for this week prior before your volunteer program starts. The schedule for the week is outlined below:
Day 1 (Monday): You will get an introduction to Romania, including Transylvania, Szekelyfold and Harghita counties, and be introduced to the program staff and their procedures. They will prepare you for your time volunteering with information on Romania and its Hungarian influences, as well as festivals, customs and traditions, dress/clothing, safety issues, food, transportation and travel opportunities. You will also be given your orientation week schedule and receive details about your volunteer project and accommodation for the following week. You’ll be treated to a welcome lunch and an afternoon city tour of Miercurea Ciuc.
Day 2 (Tuesday): The day begins with an introduction to the Hungarian language followed by a look at travel opportunities in the area and the awesome weekend activities available nearby. In the afternoon you will take a trip to a beautiful castle and Franciscan monastery where you can enjoy the history. You’ll also take a trip to the renowned Red Lake and the impressive road through Bicaz Gorge, with its sheer vertical cliffs and narrow openings.
Day 3 (Wednesday): On the agenda for Wednesday is a visit to a controversial local 72-foot high statue of Jesus Christ, set with a spectacular view of the countryside. You will also visit local villages, known for their intricate pottery and authentic markets. The day concludes with a visit to the spectacular salt mines in Praid, 390 feet below ground.
Day 4 (Thursday): In the morning, you’ll have another Hungarian Language Lesson covering basic letters, greetings and useful vocabulary and expressions. This will help assist you at your volunteer placement. In the afternoon you will visit the ethnographic museum and hike a nearby mountain known as Somlyó, where you can enjoy the panoramic views of Miercurea Ciuc.
Day 5 (Friday): Your first stop on Friday will be a visit to the local natural water springs where you will be able to taste the naturally carbonated mineral water. You will also visit the historical Székely gates and Sighişoara, a medieval Saxon city where you will have lunch at a traditional restaurant and experience a tour of the city. Sighişoara is home to an iconic traditional citadel, which is a UNESCO world heritage site encompassing traditional pastel-colored buildings and unique protective walls and watchtowers.
You’ll have the weekend free to do as you please before your specific placement orientation the following Monday. A local team member will go through the specific details of your volunteering and provide additional guidance and advice where needed.
Please note, daily itineraries are subject to change depending on the weather, venue closures and your specific interests.