my sri lankan life (so far)

It’s almost 1am on Saturday, September 10. I have been in Sri Lanka for two full days, and I’m apparently the only one of the nine of us who arrived together who isn’t affected by jet lag. Everyone has been asleep for several hours and I feel like I’m nowhere close. I’m laying in my bed in a hotel by the ocean, listening to cars drive past from one side and The Chainsmokers  blasting through the hallways from the other. I have the fan on, but the AC off, because being in a warm, muggy room reminds me of home.

The last few days have been packed with moving, meeting new people, discomfort, and sweat. It’s been cool for the last few days, apparently, but it still feels like a Canadian summer, only hotter. It’s not as hot as Southern Ontario was in the weeks before I left, though.

The trip here was long, of course, and unexpectedly comfortable. We were lucky enough to have a lot of empty seats on our flight from Philadelphia to Qatar, and I was able to stretch out and sleep across 3 seats. We’ve spent the first couple of days in Colombo, the capital city. Here we’ve met the WUSC Sri Lanka team and had some orientation courses to prepare ourselves for our new reality – including language lessons, which were simultaneously extremely helpful and so disheartening. I’m completely overwhelmed with information and even more eager, now, to get to Kandy and start my job. 

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The new Students Without Borders volunteers, from left: Katherine, our volunteer support from WUSC, Linda, Jessica, Karen, Ainishah, Banusha, Caroline, Margaret, Shiza, and Claude Goulet from the High Commissioner office

So far, the Sri Lankan people I have met have welcomed me with open arms and given me the sense that I’m going to be alright. The man I sat next to on the plane here invited me over for dinner (I didn’t get his address), and I have the number of an uber driver from Canada who wants to take me on a tour (I haven’t contacted him). On a more personal level, the people who know my name – the WUSC staff – have made our transition to being in Sri Lanka as easy as it possibly could be. (They’re taking good care of me, Mom!) I feel ready to be on my own, but at the same time I don’t. I still feel like we’re in a little bubble – all together, having someone guide us through everything. I’m trying to soak in as much as I can, because once I get to Kandy on Thursday, real life begins, and I’d like to pretend I have it mostly sorted out.

In the morning, we’re going to a village called Wilpotha where a group of locals have been gracious enough to open up their homes to us for the night. We’ll share meals, learn how to communicate across language barriers, and learn more about the life of a rural Sri Lankan. As I’ll be living and working in a large city, this might be my only exposure to a rural lifestyle and is an awesome chance to learn, however small an opportunity it is.

I’m not homesick yet, but I’ve only just gotten here. None of this feels real yet, and I expect it won’t until I’m on my own. Until then, I’m writing everything down and trying to remember to take pictures. I’ll catch you all up from Kandy!

Stay gold,

Linneah

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