Romania is a fascinating country with much to offer adventurous PhD students. From the sprawling metropolis of Bucharest to charming villages in the rural hinterlands, Romania is a nation of contrasts.
This page will give you an overview of PhD student life in Romania, covering essentials like accommodation, living costs, transport and culture.
Located in Eastern Europe, Romania shares borders with five countries: Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Moldova. It also enjoys a 275km-long stretch of Black Sea coastline – perfect for a well-earned weekend getaway from the library or lab!
Romania is one of the most geographically diverse countries in Europe, encompassing the snow-capped Carpathian Mountains, the Danube Delta and Transylvania’s dense forests.
The capital of Bucharest is home to a diverse range of architecture, from towering Communist-era apartment blocks to elegant mansions dating back to the 19th century. Perhaps the most famous building in Bucharest is the Palace of Parliament, begun in the 1980s on the orders of dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. One of the largest buildings in the world, the parliament is an imposing monument to authoritarianism.
Happily, modern-day Romania is a dynamic young democracy with a growing tourism sector. Outside of Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca is a vibrant university town with a stunning Gothic church and bohemian atmosphere.
A visit to Romania wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Bran Castle, hidden deep in the Transylvanian foothills. Embedded in popular culture as the apparent source of the legend of Count Dracula, Bran Castle’s spooky spires are creepily atmospheric.
Romania is blessed with a varied selection of landscapes, from snowy mountaintops in Transylvania and Moldavia to the Danube Delta, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site. As such, the country is a popular destination for adventurous hikers looking to experience some of Europe’s greatest wildernesses.
In terms of sports, football is the most popular sport in Romania, which has produced many great players over the years (Gheorghe Hagi, Adrian Mutu and Gabriel Tamaș, to name a few).
Handball is another popular sport, with the Romanian national team winning the world cup on a joint-record four occasions.
Romanian cuisine is typically hearty and fresh, with influences from bordering countries and traditions. One of the most common Romanian staples is mămăligă, a cornmeal-based dish akin to polenta. Sarmale, meanwhile, are stuffed vine or cabbage leaves that can be found on kitchen tables across the country.
Bucharest street food encompasses delicacies such as shoarma wraps, gogoși doughnuts and covrigi pretzels.
There are plenty of affordable accommodation options for PhD students in Romania. A shared room in a university dormitory will cost around €60 per month.
If you prefer to rent privately, a studio in a major Romanian city will cost between €120 and €300 per month. For a two-bedroom apartment, you should expect to pay between €200 and €300 per month.
The cost of living in Romania is low by Western European standards. You should budget between €100 and €300 per month for food and around €200 for entertainment.
This table shows the typical costs of some student essentials in Romania.
|Monthly Travel Pass||€14.80|
|Based on crowdsourced data published by Numbeo.|
Romania has generous terms for international students hoping to work part-time during their studies. You don’t need an extra work permit, as long as you have a valid residence permit.
If you’re an EU, EA or Swiss national, there aren’t any restrictions on the number of hours you can work in Romania (although it’s not a good idea to work full-time during your PhD!).
Non-EU / EEA / Swiss nationals can work up to four hours a day without a separate work permit.
It’s a good idea to open a bank account fairly soon after your arrival in Romania. There are plenty of commercial banks to choose from, so make sure you shop around to find one that offers a good deal on fees and has a branch close to where you’re living.
You’ll usually need to bring the following documents with you when opening a new bank account:
The local currency in Romania is the Romanian leu (lei is the plural).
Romania is a sizeable country but its decent transportation network means that it’s not too difficult to get from one region to another cheaply and relatively quickly.
Trains are a reliable way of travelling between cities and beyond Romania’s borders to other countries. There are a few different varieties, with the InterCity (IC) trains usually the fastest and most modern.
Buses are another way of travelling around the country, although it can be tricky to get your head around the system, with many private operators plying similar routes and using different bus stations. If in doubt, ask a local for advice.
Romania is home to several international airports, serving destinations from across Europe and beyond. Henri Coandă International Airport in Bucharest is the largest airport in the country, used by many low-cost airlines as well as long-haul flights.
Public transport in Romanian cities is good, with a combination of buses, trams and trolleybuses. Bucharest also has its own underground metro system.
Taxis are another useful way to get around cities, providing a convenient and affordable mode of transport.
Last updated - 01/11/2019