Spend your week full of snuggling and singing to the children in the orphanage before venturing out of your steeple-filled city to discover colorful neighboring towns for the weekend.
Romania is a country home to old traditions — the perfect place to uncover legends you grew up on (like Dracula), site-see the most stunning castles, or delve into quaint farming villages, sprinkled across rolling hills dotted with sheep and towering churches. Whatever part of Romania’s untapped charm steals your heart, know that the children you’ll be spending time with will really be the reason you love this country.
EXPLORING EUROPE —
Romania may be small, but it’s packed full of colorful and peaceful towns hidden away from the tourist crowds. While we love exploring Romania (and highly recommend that you do!), it is also situated conveniently close to several favorite travel destinations allowing you to country hop on your vacations. Cross the border and be in another country in less than a day. In fact, Iasi is only 38 miles from Moldova and 135 miles from Ukraine! Easily cross off more than a handful of countries from your bucket list.
Not only do you get to explore Romania, but you can also vacation throughout the European Union and Ukraine. Here’s just a few of our recommended spots to choose from …
Brasov, Romania — Heavily influenced by Germany, this city makes you feel like you just stepped into western Europe. Visit old churches and of course … the oh so famous Dracula’s castle. Also home to the narrowest street in Europe (4 feet wide!).
Sibiu, Romania — Spend the day wandering just one of our favorite hidden gem towns in Romania. Take photos of the streets lined with colorful buildings, wander art museums, and snag some treats from a vendor on the street.
Italy — Eat to your heart’s content in Naples, stand in awe of historic architecture in Rome, and take a boat tour of Venice.
Poland — Learn WWII history firsthand by touring historic sites like Auschwitz and the Jewish District, spend the day exploring Old Town Krakow, and take a trip out to the mountains.
Czech Republic — Arrive early, before other tourists, to walk along famous Charles Bridge, walk up the hill to Prague castle, and shop in this capital city.
Austria — Visit museums and photograph incredibly detailed and beautiful architecture in tranquil Vienna.
Ukraine — Visit castles at Kamianets-Podilskyi, soak up the sun at the Black Sea by visiting Odessa, spend a day in charming Lviv and don’t forget the capital, Kiev.
France — Fulfill your childhood dreams by having a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower, spend an afternoon in the Louvre, and soak up the sun on the coast.
Slovenia — Boat across the lake to medieval Bled castle, take the train through the underground network of caves, and hike through ravines and canyons.
Bulgaria — Stroll the streets of the capital, relax in famous mineral spas, and bike the mountains along the Black Sea coast.
Moldova — Explore cave monasteries, beautiful churches, and another chance to head to the coast. Get the true feel of a Russian culture here.
Croatia — Ancient coastal towns like Dubrovnik, Roman amphitheaters, and some of the most beautiful coastlines in Europe.
Greece — Head to one of the top destinations in the world. The Parthenon, Mykonos, hilltop monasteries, incredible town views…need we say more?
Slovakia — Take a boat ride to historic castle ruins, stroll through and have lunch on the streets of Old Town Bratislava, and climb the hillside to views of the city and a Soviet War Memorial.
Hungary — Spend the weekend in Budapest, relaxing in famous thermal spas, walk around castle hill, and take a short cruise for sites of both Buda and Pest.
PROGRAM DETAILS —
Live in an apartment with other volunteers! There’s usually around 10-15 volunteers each semester, so you’ll have built in travel buddies for your semester abroad. Try out delicious breads, cheeses, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Practice learning Romanian, learn about the local traditions and customs, and wander the streets to find the beautiful churches on every corner.
Check out a what a typical day looks like for an ILP volunteer and can’t miss experiences in Romania here.
Spring Semester: Depart early January — return home the end of April.
Summer Semester: Depart the end of April or early May — return home the middle of August.
Fall Semester: Depart the end of August — return home the middle of December, just in time for Christmas.
Romania is one of ILP’s Humanitarian programs and is really unique because it’s the only location where you are not teaching English. Here your service goes towards children in an orphanage and helping them progress towards the ultimate goal of being adopted into a loving family; you’ll have the chance to show your kids the love and care that a parent would. Hold young babies, crawl around with young children, and play games outside in the yard with the older children. Serve in the apartments with orphans who have progressed, helping them get ready for family-like life before being adopted.
$5,470 — Includes your roundtrip airfare to Romania, visa, housing, meals, language and culture classes, and training and support throughout the entire experience.
ILP volunteers live in Iasi, a city on the northern border of Romania.
How will I be helping in the orphanage?
In ILP’s orphanage program the kids you’ll be working with have shelter, food, and everything they need to live. What they lack is enough people who have time to provide them with one-on-one interactions where they would learn simple things such as how to stand up, turn the pages in a picture book, or kick a ball. They need the direct support a parent might have been able to give as they progress both physically and emotionally.
In addition to learning basic skills, many of the children you work with have severe disabilities. For a child who can’t hear or see, you holding and hugging them may be the only interaction that they have. For a child who can’t walk, you taking them out to the playground may be the only time they feel the breeze or the sunshine. What you’ll do takes a lot of patience, effort, and can be challenging at times. Some of these children have real difficulties in life that you won’t be able to fix, but you’ll be able to make life for them a little bit more enjoyable because of your care.
Volunteers also have the opportunity to support and help orphans who are preparing for adoption. As part of their progression, orphans will live in an apartment setting and become more familiar with what life will be like in a family setting (which is very different from what they’re been used to). Work with these children as they learn to become more independent, comfortable in social settings, and more prepared for a new chapter of their life.