1. The landscape and climate. Driving across the country really is something out of a story book.
Moldova’s natural beauty is breathtaking: endless fields of sunflowers during the summer, the trees turning yellow, orange, and red in the fall, a layer of fresh snow blanketing a sleepy village during the winter, and the roses and fruit trees blossoming in the spring. In Moldova, you get to experience the beauty of all four seasons – a rarity in Peace Corps.
2. Where’s Moldova? Until very recently Moldova was almost unheard of by the general public in the US. This offers you the chance to really educate your friends and family about a new country, before, during and after your service.
More than that, it also means there will be a lot of people wherever you go in Moldova that have either never met another American, or the only Americans they have met are Peace Corps Volunteers.
3. Up and Coming Economy. Huge potential for developing into a thriving economy and flourishing society, with reason to hope that the people you work with will make this happen you can be inspired everyday to play your part in speeding up this jump.
4. It’s Europe. Tons of history, beautiful old churches, and you’re a stone’s throw away from popular European vacation spots like Turkey, Greece, Croatia, Austria and Hungary where you can meet your friends and family from home or go with fellow PCVs. And while Moldova is a Peace Corps country, it’s arguably one of the most developed so there’s a good chance you’ll have hot running water, fast internet, and dare I get your expectations up, a washing machine.
5. Untouched Beauty. Moldova may be near all of Europe, but Moldova itself also has a lot to offer to a tourist interested in off the beaten track beauty. Moldova has all kinds of untouched amazing sites to see. From Orhei Vechi Complex to an amazing landscape reserve, The Codru, and to the 8th longest cave in the world.
Cultural Historical Complex “Orheiul Vechi” is 40 km north of Chisinau. This complex boasts ruins of a fortress built in the 14th century, cave monasteries, a sacred shrine and church of St. Mary, built in the 1st century, and more.
The “Codru” Reserve is home to nearly 1,000 varieties of protected plants, (half of the flora characteristic for Moldova) and about 200 species land vertebrates.
“Emil Racovita” cave is located near the Criva village in the Edinet raion. The cave was discovered in 1959 and stretches more than 89,000 m, with many levels.
The Nistru River, which begins in the Carpathian Mountains and continues to the Black Sea. This river stretches almost 1400 km, more than half of which is located in Moldova. The banks of this river host many of the resorts in Moldova such as Vadul lui Voda.
6. The culture. From the Moldovan Music and the traditional dance to the amazing traditional foods of Moldova.
Moldovan Music and the Hora. “Moldovan music” is usually comprised of violins, trumpets, drums and accordions with an up-tempo beat and a catchy tune. The “Hora” is a traditional and extremely popular dance that you’ll see at any celebration or public event, involving a number of people dancing around in a circle together holding hands and kicking out their feet in unison. You can’t help yourself but to jump right in.
Sarmale and Placinta. Rice and meat wrapped in cabbage or grape leaves and cooked on the stove. Cheese, shredded cabbage, or fruit-filled pastries. Two very traditional dishes in Moldova and boy, are they delicious.
7. Moldovan hospitality. Your host mom might try to overfeed you, neighbors might invite you over to chat over a cup of tea, and your work partner might invite you to their daughter’s wedding.
If you meet someone on the street in the village they will immediately invite you over to their home cooked “masa” (aka feast) and insist that you try some of their family’s homemade wine.
One thing’s for certain though: you’ll be treated like family and greeted with open arms everywhere you’ll go.
8. The juiciest fruits and the freshest vegetables. The most delicious fresh fruits and vegetables you’ve ever tasted. Most Moldovan families grow their own produce at home in their gardens, and you will get the opportunity to share your host family’s garden or have your very own. Moldova used to supply all fruits and veggies to the entire Soviet Union because the soil was so good and you will taste the difference. The fruits and vegetables here are out-of-this-world!
9. Learn a second AND third language. There are two main languages in Moldova: Romanian and Russian, and they are often used interchangeably even though they are very different from one another (one Latin, the other Cyrillic). During Pre-Service Training you will learn one, but over the course of your service you will have the opportunity to learn and use both.
Romanian is a romance language which makes it a lot easier to learn if you have a background in Spanish, will help you in the future if you ever want to learn another romance language and is the language closest to original Latin.
Russian, while far from romantic sounding, is a fantastic language with rich history and culture and a multitude of off the beaten path places to travel if you know it. Plus it comes with a bonus 50 grams of vodka.
10. Alcohol flows free-er than water. Automatic enrollment into an informal 2-year degree in “Wine & Liquor Making, Tasting, and Appreciation.” Lots of wine, raciu (homemade liquor) and its all homemade, natural and delicious!
Winemaking in Moldova has been around for at least 4000 years. Almost every Moldovan household makes their own house wine each fall. The Mileștii Mici winery in Moldova is the largest wine cellar in the world. The second largest, Cricova winery, is also in Moldova. Moldova has the greatest density of vineyards in the world, and even though it’s the 139th largest country in the world by area, it is the world’s 14th biggest wine producer (2012). Any way you look at it, Moldova is wine country.
Bonus reason! It’s small. As in it’s the-size-of-Maryland small. You can travel top to bottom in as little as 8 hours by car, and it takes half that time to travel across it. Therefore, you can easily visit other volunteers and work with them on projects, and Peace Corps HQ in the capital, Chisinau, is no more than 5 hours away by car (which is a huge plus in terms of Medical visits, needing to talk with Administration, and picking up care packages).