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Northwestern College, in conjunction with the New Horizons Foundation of Romania, is pleased to offer a unique semester experience engaging the culture of post-communist Romania. Fallout from communism, in the form of high unemployment, low morale and deep despair, has contributed to corruption and moral apathy throughout Romania, which has affected its people dramatically. Through this program, students explore this magical and deeply moving place and are directly involved with New Horizons pioneering of experiential education (adventure education and service learning) to rebuild the moral and social fabric of Romanian youth. Participants study Romanian culture, history, and language, Eastern Orthodoxy, and sustainable development theory, combining these subjects with experiential and service-learning pedagogy among Romanian young people. The program is group oriented, and includes excursions, a mountain backpacking trip, and homestays with Romanian families. Dana Bates of New Horizons leads this program along with faculty and staff from New Horizons and Northwestern College.


Romania is a country of great contrasts and paradoxes—full of great beauty, rich mythology and hard truths. It is a land of majestic mountains, medieval castles and the legend of Dracula. And yet, in the Jiu Valley, the depressed coal-mining region which serves as the base for this program, one sees first-hand the devastating effects of communism. Participants spend much of their time in this area, in the city of Lupeni, where they have the opportunity to live with a Romanian host family and engage Romanian youth through various service-learning projects. Lupeni is located in the southeastern area of Romania, approximately 200 miles from Bucharest, the capital of Romania.

Faculty and Staff

Dr. Dana Bates serves as the primary faculty member for this program. He is the founder and executive director of New Horizons Foundation based in Lupeni, Romania, and holds a Ph.D. from Oxford Centre for Missions Studies at the University of Wales. Other faculty and staff members include Brandi Bates who heads up the student life area and other numerous Romanian scholars and NHF personnel.

Course and Credit

All participants will take four courses and receive 16 credits upon completion of the program, which includes meeting the general education cross-cultural requirement, as well as elective course equivalents in several majors (see courses below).  In addition, the semester fulfills the 16 elective credits of the Cultural Studies Minor and may be a substitute for four credits and/or serve as one of the Recommended Immersion Experiences in the Christian Community Development Minor.

  • Romanian Culture and History (4 credits) 

This class will explore Romanian culture and history through visits to historic sites and museums, home stays with Romanian families, language study, readings, and lectures by qualified specialists. Lectures will focus on gaining insight into the historical and social development of Romania's cultural values, especially the values Communism attempted to propagate and the devastating wake left by the realities of this failed ideology.

Academic application: Cross-cultural General Education requirement;
HIS 230: Topics in Cross-Cultural History

  • Eastern Orthodoxy (4 credits) 

This is an introductory course to give Western students a good understanding of Eastern Orthodox faith, dogma, aesthetics, liturgies, and lifestyle. Even though the Christian Church started in the East, the Eastern Orthodox Church is largely unknown to Western audiences. There will be several church visits and expert Orthodox authorities will speak on behalf of their Church, thus facilitating an authentic approach to Romanian Orthodoxy.

Academic application:
REL 385: Special Topics in Religion (2- 4)

  • Sustainable Development (4 credits)

This class will explore issues of poverty, underdevelopment, and human well-being correlating insights of the secular world (Athens) with that of Christian faith (Jerusalem). Special reference will be given to the theoretical aspects of various paradigms of human well-being: social capital and civil society, the HUman Development paradigm (the capability approach of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum), Basic Needs, Geographical (Jared Diamond), and Marxist inspired Communism. 

Academic application: PSC 230: Topics in International Problems  (2-4); ECO 305: Current Economic Problems (3); SOC 202: Social Problems

  • Experiential Education (4 credits)

This class has two principle aims. The first is to dig deeply into the theoretical (including theological) and historical foundations of experiential education. This class will therefore investigate the classical virtue and "wisdom" (phronesis) tradition, as well as its later refinements with Dewey and is desire for transformative praxis. The second main aim is to explore experiential education--adventure education and service-learning--,and as applied in post-Communist Romania. Thus the basics of adventure education will be addressed including a wilderness back-packing trip in the beautiful Carpathians of Transylvania, and working in solidarity with Romanian youth who are striving to improve their communities.

Academic application: KIN 345: Outdoor Recreation


Current plans have students flying as a group roundtrip, Omaha or Sioux Falls—Bucharest. Generally, all in-country transportation costs will be covered by the program or via a per diem.  NWC will arrange group tickets from Omaha, NE, or Sioux Falls, SD. Non-NWC students will be provided specific travel instructions in a timely manner.

Housing and Meals

Participants will spend part of their time in Romania living with Romania host families, one of the best ways to experience local culture and language. When not living with the host families or on a retreat, participants will be housed in dormitory style housing provided for by the program. Generally, all meals will be provided either by host families or the program (via a per diem or in group meals). Students will camp and make their own food during the Retezat backpacking trip.


Excursions and Day Trips

Participants will enjoy a variety of planned excursions. Current plans have the group visiting the Hunedoara Castle, a monastery in Prislop, Timisoara, Cluj-Napoca, as well as Bucharest, among others.

Program Costs

The program fee is the same as NWC on-campus semester costs. It includes tuition for 16 credits, in-country transportation, housing/home stay, most meals or meal per diem, orientation, and all program excursions and retreats. All participants will need to cover books (est. $100-$150), passport and pictures, required wilderness excursion gear, immunizations/vaccines, international insurance and individual travel and spending money, among other items.

Financial Aid

All applicable Northwestern College financial aid applies. NWC students receive a $1,200 stipend to be used towards airfare. See the Global Education Center for more information.


NWC sophomores, juniors and seniors with a minimum GPA of 2.0 are eligible to apply. This program is also available to non-NWC students on a space available basis. 

International Insurance

All program participants must purchase separate international travel insurance that will provide basic medical, medical evacuation and repatriation coverage (approximately $120).  The Global Education Center will make the actual purchase when all payments are in.  Insurance will cover from day left to day returned. International Student Identification Cards are also available for purchase from NWC Global Education Center.

Vaccinations and Health Information

The Centers for Disease Control ( recommends that all travelers to Romania be up to date on routine immunizations. The program requires that participants have up-to-date tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccinations and receive Hep A vaccinations. Other immunization decisions should be made in consultation with your personal physician. Please plan ahead and visit your doctor at least six weeks prior to departure as certain immunizations require several visits or need several weeks to take effect. Specific health threats for visitors to Romania and Eastern Europe include traveler’s diarrhea among others. Please visit the Center for Disease Control ( for more information and complete details.

Passport and Visa

For U.S. Citizens, a passport is required for travel to Romania. Participants are responsible for applying for and obtaining their own passport. American citizens are allowed to visit Romania without a visa for a total of 90 days within 6 months from their arrival. The program will assist with obtaining a temporary residency permit (permis de sedere) once on-site. For more information, please contact NWC’s Global Education Center. Complete information on entry/exit requirements for Romania is also available at


Upon acceptance into the program, a $250.00 deposit (cash or check made payable to NWC) will be required to hold a participant’s spot. This deposit will be applied to the final program fee.  

Pre-Departure Orientation

All students must complete all pre-departure requirements to participate in NWC study abroad programs. This includes attending your country-specific pre-departure orientation. There are no exceptions.  Further information and dates will be provided and confirmed upon acceptance into the program.

Application Materials

The Romania Semester Program application is online and consists of a study abroad application form, three recommendations (two from  faculty members, one from a resident director), and an academic transcript. Non-NWC students must fill out a  guest application to NWC and be accepted before applying to Romania Semester. Scroll down for more information.

Application Process

All eligible applicants are encouraged to apply online. Online applications will not be considered complete until ALL sections of the online application are completed and all other required documents and reference letters submitted. Application Deadline is February 10. After the deadline, call 712-707-7225 for space availability information. The online application process goes live online the November before the next school year.

Apply Now

Northwestern students:

Non-Northwestern students:
Begin the application process

You should review your answers carefully to ensure the accuracy of your application. You cannot edit your application once it is e-submitted.

Romania Semester Guide Fall 2014

Program Brochures and Posters

Dr. Boryana Dobreva
Director of Global Education

Mrs. Nancy Landhuis
Off-Campus Program Coordinator