Doing an internship abroad in Romania might not seem like the most obvious destination at first glance, but it’s actually an extremely wise choice. Romania, often caricatured by Dracula, Cyprien (the youtuber) and Coca-Cola subsidies, suffers from a somewhat distorted image, even though it abounds in cultural riches, varied landscapes and a fascinating history.

Hi, it’s Esteban, and through this blog, I’m going to share with you my captivating experience in Romania. I had the opportunity to spend a week in this country of blue, yellow and red colors (in reference to its flag), precisely in its capital, Bucharest, in 2021.

You may be asking yourself, “What on earth possessed this guy to take it all the way to Romania?” Honestly, before I left, I didn’t really have an answer. However, once there, I quickly grasped the unsuspected charms of this country. Well, let me reveal, and let you understand how I ended up in Romania. After completing my first internship with the team, an experience that had gone wonderfully well, I found myself in a situation that was, to say the least, unexpected. As a thank you for my work, Hugo and Seb surprised me by inviting me to accompany them to Romania. An opportunity I couldn’t pass up. It was as if fate was offering me a unique opportunity to explore this country, to gain a better understanding of its culture, and above all, to dive into another internship abroad with the team.

So let me set the scene: I was accompanied by Seb, Hugo, Tom and Malo. We spent a short week in the heart of Bucharest, just a five-minute drive from the city center.

This trip was much more than just a getaway. It was a total immersion in a new environment, a good way to get a feel for how an internship abroad could be, especially in a country as intriguing as Romania. I had the opportunity to observe at close quarters how local companies operate, to familiarize myself with professional customs and to take on unprecedented challenges. By sharing this experience, I also hope to help you prepare for a similar adventure abroad.

Bucharest, a city of surprises!

Now, let’s turn to this singular experience in Eastern Europe, the land of Dracula and vampires. There’s so much to tell, but first I’d like to mention one essential aspect: the cost of living. In the year 2023, as I write these lines, inflation has risen significantly. Nevertheless, there’s no denying that prices remain incredibly affordable for a European capital. We took advantage of this to get around mainly by Uber or Bolt, and enjoy the pleasures of bars and restaurants without restraint. In comparison, the cost of living in Romania is around 40% lower than in France, giving us considerable financial leeway.

Another captivating aspect I must tell you about is the consequences of Romania’s occupation by the Soviet Union. Romania’s complex history under Soviet rule has left a profound mark on the country. The influence of the Soviet Union left lasting imprints on Romanian culture, politics and economy, and I can tell you that it struck us quite quickly when we saw all the buildings left to decay. The shadow of that period was omnipresent, even in the heart of modernity. That’s how we found ourselves in a Bucharest shopping mall, a huge structure covering a total area of 83,971 square meters spread over five floors. What left us speechless was what we discovered inside. From the second floor upwards, the shop windows were hopelessly empty, and the higher we climbed, the fewer stores were present. Suffice to say, the fifth floor looked more like an urbex vlog set than a bustling shopping area.

In a similar vein, I’d like to tell you about an architectural mountain: the Palace of Parliament, proof that when it comes to administrative buildings, Romania hasn’t cut any corners. In 1984, Nicolae Ceausescu decided that other rulers should have castles, so why not a huge palace to house everything to do with administration? Presidency, National Assembly, Council of Ministers, Supreme Court… all under one giant roof. The Palais du Parlement is as if someone had taken “Monopoly” a little too seriously. We didn’t visit it, but as we walked past, we could already feel the bureaucratic power emanating from the walls. And to think that some people are content with offices overlooking the parking lot.

The experience was a powerful illustration of the complexity of Romanian history and how the consequences of the past sometimes manifest themselves in unexpected ways in the present. The abandoned buildings and remnants of the Soviet era were a constant reminder of the challenges the country has faced and continues to face in forging its own future.

The experience was a powerful illustration of the complexity of Romanian history and how the consequences of the past sometimes manifest themselves in unexpected ways in the present. The abandoned buildings and remnants of the Soviet era were a constant reminder of the challenges the country has faced and continues to face in forging its own future.

they had the audacity to reproduce one of our most emblematic monuments. Well, to be fair, they didn’t really “steal” it, they actually built it. It’s actually a monument erected to celebrate the parade of victorious troops after the First World War. It’s rather flattering that our Parisian Arc de Triomphe should have inspired such a tribute thousands of miles away.

And to top it all off, this replica is nestled not far from Place Charles-de-Gaulle. Honestly, guys, calm down with the architectural “plagiarism”, it’s getting to be a lot! We almost expected to find an “Eiffel Tower 2.0” just around the corner.

After this foray into the curious Romanian replica of our beloved Arc de Triomphe, an edifice that arouses both astonishment and admiration, let’s now turn our attention to an equally crucial aspect: the weather. A crucial aspect that can influence the appreciation of a destination. My stay in Romania in October was a bit like transporting the weather of a good November in Finistère to Bucharest. It rained almost non-stop, creating an atmosphere that was both romantic and melancholy. The cobbled streets of the old quarter, while charming, proved to be potential traps for my feet. I came close to disaster on numerous occasions, almost sprawling on the wet cobblestones. The image of me trying to keep my balance on those slippery cobblestones will always make me smile.

The Romanian anecdote

Now it’s time to share a mini-anecdote that makes us laugh with hindsight. Two days after our arrival in Bucharest, we had an appointment with a local French-speaking guide whom we’ll call Maria. Her role was to immerse us in the history of the city and the country, peppering her explanations with interesting anecdotes. We were thirsty to learn, you might say. However, it soon became clear that Maria was perhaps not the most knowledgeable when it came to history, at least in terms of what she was trying to tell us. For each monument, statue or building, her discourse was limited to pronouncing the name followed by the now famous phrase she was so fond of: “it’s like that”. Quite a funny situation! I particularly remember a memorable moment when Maria introduced us to the bust of Georges Enesco, a Franco-Romanian composer. After carefully stating his name and reading the inscription underneath, she let loose her famous “c’est comme ça”. It was as if this phrase was her answer for everything.

Looking back, it’s clear that Maria wasn’t the most reliable source of historical information about her own country. Ironically, a simple 20-minute detour on Wikipedia would probably have sufficed for more accurate and verified details.

All in all, my stay in Romania was a superb international experience, and I wish I’d stayed longer to learn more about Romanian culture. It showed me that atypical destinations can reveal hidden treasures and offer unexpected lessons. Whether through the complexity of its history, the architectural curiosities or even the “golri” moments shared with new acquaintances, Romania offered me a unique and memorable experience. So, if you’re considering an internship abroad, don’t leave Romania off your list. Who knows what extraordinary surprises and discoveries await you there?

Anyway, if this little feedback has convinced you, and you’re hot to go and do your work experience abroad… For your future internship in Romania: contact us, the Team is mobilizing to answer any questions ? For more general questions, go to the International Horizons Internships Abroad FAQ.