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Instructions and Advice for going to Romania

Instructions and Advice for going to Romania

What to Pack

I am a strong believer in travel light. Take with you what you absolutely need and it’s difficult to acquire locally (you can always buy a shirt). Passport and money are a must!  So is medication (don’t expect to find drug refills so bring all you prescriptions with you). The rest is optional J.  One check-in (verify weight limit with your carrier but it’s typically one 50 lbs/23 kg for free for international travel), one carry-on and one personal item per person are plenty. Pack for warm weather (July temperatures in Sibiu are a bit cooler than here) but make sure you have warm jacket or sweater for potential cold evenings and definitely pack rain gear (it rains a lot more in Sibiu than here).  For company work, you need to dress up in business casual (not formal): slacks and shirts for men, pants or skirts/dresses (not too mini!) and blouses for women but no need for jackets and ties; no flip-flops either but decent walking shoes or sandals. Be prepared to walk on foot A LOT so bring comfortable shoes (men bring a pair of street shoes in addition to sneakers; women, be careful with high heels – opt better for some comfortable flats). For fun/sightseeing activities have comfortable cool outfits (shorts, t-shirts, again comfortable walking shoes/sandals). You can run and exercise in the park nearby (beautiful alleys) so bring running shoes if you need them. If you want to do the day hike in Fagarasi mountains bring hiking shoes. Add a hat for sun, sunglasses, sunscreen (we’ll probably find it there too but you may have your own brand preference), swim suit if you want to go to Ocna Sibiului (there is also a swimming pool/rec center close to the dorm). Bring a laptop – you’ll need it for the project and company work (I’m also bringing my ipad). Also bring your smart phone if you want it (more about it below).

For all electrical devices note that Romania is on 220V/50Hz. Most digital devices (computers, phones, cameras) and shavers have adapters that work both at 110V and 220V. Even my hair curling iron works in both systems. If you need a hair dryer I recommend you buy a cheap one over there. For any other devices which don’t work at 220V you will need a transformer – they’re expensive and not much worth though so better refrain from using them. However, for ALL your electrical plugs you will need ADAPTERS – you can buy them here but Mark Uhde has quite a few extras and he’s ready to sell them to you.  

Finally try to pack some little things that make good gifts from Montana. It’s a nice gesture to give something to the people you work with there. If you have extra room in your bags and you leave from Missoula, I have several textbooks I want to donate to ULBS so come grab a book from my office.

How to communicate via phone and email

Besides many places that have free wireless internet in Sibiu, ULBS will also provide us free internet access on campus and dorms. You can use an Ethernet cable for your computer or connect wireless with your computer/tablet/phone. We’ll get instructions there as well but it will be much faster if you follow Mark’s instructions below which were confirmed by the local IT manager (he says if you set up your devices here to connect to EDUROAM you don’t need to do anything else over there but to turn your wireless on). Your US cell phone won’t work in Europe. You can buy a cheap prepaid phone over there or if you have a smartphone you can get a SIM card (I recommend Orange network) when you arrive in Otopeni. Check with Verizon (or whatever carrier you have) to make sure your phone is unlocked and can take a local SIM card. Note that you will have to buy minutes ahead of time (pre-paid) for your phone and you will have a new local phone number (so it’s not the same US phone number you have now). Once you have your new phone number you can get calls on it from US (it will be pretty expensive to call US from Romania). Here is Mark Uhde’s advice (contact Mark for help if you need it; I don’t understand much but I intend to follow his advice):  

“Wi-Fi on Campus at ULBS: ULBS participates in the same Wi-Fi sharing agreement the U of M does, eduroam. PLEASE connect your devices to eduroam instead of UMwpa BEFORE leaving campus here in Missoula to ensure your authentication is routed correctly! Setup is similar to UMwpa, but add "@umontana.edu" to your NetID. NetID is your xx000000 number, not your 790 number.

Username: [netID]@umontana.edu

Password: [your netID password]

EAP Method (if requested): LEAP or TTLS. LEAP is officially supported by the U of M, but I've actually had fewer issues with TTLS. Try both, probably starting with TTLS. Windows, Macs, iPhones, and iPads won't ask for this. Android and Linux will.

Phase 2 authentication (if requested): MSCHAPv2

Again, it's very important to connect to eduroam here BEFORE YOU LEAVE. Otherwise, authentication issues will be much harder to resolve. I'll be able to help some, but I won't be able to do a ton unless you also happen to be a journalism student!

Mobile Service: Unlocked phones supporting UMTS2100 are needed. Any Verizon LTE world phone will work fine, due to some government discounts on spectrum, Verizon agreed not to lock their LTE phones, so any "world phone" LTE phone (not all are) will take a local SIM. For AT&T customers (like myself), if you have a handset sold by AT&T you will need to call to find out if you're eligible for an unlock. Do this early as they take a week or two to process the request. Orange seems to have the simplest prepaid SIM plans for travelers, with prices for data-only (use Viber, Facebook, LINE, Google Hangouts, TextNow, etc to communicate back home) ranging from 5-13 EUR for the month, depending on data needs. VPN Service: If anyone wants access to US based content while in Romania, I can highly recommend the great guys at VPN.ac who provide a very fast, stable VPN service at a great price with a strong commitment to security.”

Important note: my phone number will change so email me if you need to contact me before meeting in Romania. However, Liviu has a functional cellphone: 40-751-281700 (please save this somewhere handy! FYI 40 is the country code) Call him if there’s anything you need or if your travel plans change and you don’t arrive at the scheduled time in OPT (please don’t scare us, surprises are NOT cool!)

 

How to Pay for Things

The official currency in Romania is the leu (not Euros). There’s no point in exchanging dollars to euros for Romania. You don’t need to worry about most expenses as they will be paid from your course fee but you may still want to buy your own things and have a meal or a drink on your own. I recommend you bring $200 cash and change it in lei in the airport or at a bank in Sibiu (and you should keep some cash in USD as well). Romania has made significant transition to plastic but the reality is that it’s still mostly a cash economy. Visa/MC/Amex works but you need to have a pin so better use checking cards than credits cards (I have no idea what my pin is on my credit cards). You’ll find ATMs and banks everywhere. I intend to have cash with me and one Visa checking card. But if you want to be more sophisticated I would like to share with you Mark’s advice here (he knows a great deal about travel to Europe, much more than I do!)

“Many credit card terminals, even at places that accept Visa/MC are set up by default to use PIN authentication for swiped transactions. You can request a cash advance PIN from your bank, transactions will still be coded as purchases. Even better, due to swipe acceptance issues throughout Europe, is to request a contact chip (EMV) card from your bank. In most cases, a chip and signature card is fine because the CVM list on the card will be honoured, unlike the magstripe service code. Bank of America offers the Travel Rewards card, 1.5% rewards, zero FTF, chip and signature with a cash advance PIN that works fine in situations demanding a PIN. For cash access, the Schwab High-Yield Investor Checking account offers totally free ATM use worldwide, with no fees and a refund of all ATM owner fees. In all cases, it is critical to avoid DCC - dynamic currency conversion - this is where a shop or ATM attempts to charge you in dollars (or whatever your card currency is) instead of in the local currency. The exchange rates on this service are 3-10% worse than interbank rates AND, adding insult to injury, most banks still charge a foreign transaction fee since it's a transaction fee not an exchange fee! According to http://www.ezpayltd.co.uk/escape-travel/exchange-rates/currency-converter/dynamic-conversion/, the Romanian phrase to request to avoid this is Doresc să folosesc ca monedă de plată Leul românesc.” (Well, this is what Mark found online; I never needed to do it but the Romanian is correct J)

In stores all prices are fixed but if you go to the free market or buy souvenirs from street stands be prepared to negotiate and never pay what you’re asked for.

How to Prepare for International Travel

It is CRITICAL that you have medical and travel insurance. All of you who are registered UM students in this course are covered by the UM group travel policy (that’s why I asked for your medical forms) and the insurance is paid from the course fee.  Our HTH Comprehensive Insurance Policy provides coverage for $150,000 in medical expenses, $150,000 for medical evacuation and $15,000 for repatriation. Please note that the group is covered for ONE month. Given some of yours’ travel plans I selected the coverage dates as June 21 to July 20.  Outside these dates you are not covered.  Partners are NOT covered by UM: Vickie and Hawk Sehy, Dylan Fullerton, and Amy Sullivan, you need to make sure you buy your own international health & travel insurance.

It is also highly recommended you register your international travel with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.  We don’t expect anything serious to happen but it’s always good to do it (more on safety below). If you worry about vaccinations and such, Romania is not listed for any medical concerns but you may want to read these two websites recommended by our international travel expert, Mark: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/romania.html and http://www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk/destinations/europe--russia/romania.aspx. He found a recommendation for Hep A immunization, which is got for $35 at Curry (again, this is all up to you).  

How to Stay Safe while you “Mingle with the Locals”  

First of all, good and bad people are everywhere and in Romania you will come in contact with both. There’s the risk of stealing and robbery but probably not much higher than what you’d find in Washington DC… You need to be smart and be aware of your surroundings and not to stupid things. Don’t walk alone at dark in questionable places. Don’t leave your purse unattended and guard your money and passport at all time. Remember that US passports are a very valuable item in certain circles so keep it on you and out of sight all the time. About this: Scan and print the first pages (picture and info pages) of your passport. Keep a printout with you in a different location than the passport. Email me the scan so I can keep it for you as well. The international programs director here asked to have your passport copy as well. So in case of robbery you have a quick and sure access to the proof of who you are. I want to get your scanned passport first page this week (sorry I just learned about this). Please send me the passport scan for ALL participants (student and your traveling family members).

Public transportation is quite safe and dependable. You will most like take the bus to go to your company every day. Taxi cabs are a possibility when in need but do NOT hail or hop in them on the street (some are company legit others are not). Call and order a cab to pick you up if needed. For those of you who need to travel between Otopeni and Bucharest on your own, request a cab in the airport. Better take the bus. In Sibiu we’ll figure out how to get some weekly passes. You could rent a car and drive if you really need and want it but Romanian traffic is absolutely horrible and you don’t know how to navigate it (and yell at other drivers). I recommend you stay the hell away from it (you will NOT drive during the course time; before and after it’s your business…)

When you walk on the street stay away from panhandlers, do not give cash to anybody, in general avoid any interaction with unsavory characters. You’ll see gypsies old and young asking for help – don’t get emotional. Also, in the airport do NOT accept help with your bags from anybody – you’ll be mobbed by people who are only too willing to carry your bags (sometime you have to be rude and shove them way). Best to yell at them: NU! Or a nice polite “nu multzumesc” (no, thank you). Some other good words: “Pleaca!” (go away) or “Fa Loc” (make room).  Since we’re at it, how about some nice words: “buna ziua” (“good day” meaning a polite hello); the simpler hello is “salut”; “multzumesc” or the simpler French “mersi” (thank you); “multzumesc frumos” (thank you very much); “la revedere” (good bye); “noroc” (good luck or cheers when you have a drink) – you’ll use this one a lot, but be careful, Romanians will drink you under the table quite fast and the local tzuica (plum schnapps) is very strong.  

 

 I am sure I missed something – ask and ye shall receive…