My Daily Life Volunteering in Sri Lanka


Now that I’ve been doing research as a volunteer in Sri Lanka for a week now, I feel as if I’ve gotten comfortable to the daily routine. Each day seems quite similar to the last, yet with each new day I find myself awe-inspired by something new and memorable.

Here is what our daily schedule looks like:


8 am: Wake up, get ready for the day, put on bug spray and sunscreen, and then eat breakfast. Breakfast has included homemade string hoppers, rice and cooked vegetables, pita bread, and fresh pineapple.

9 am: Depart for morning activity, which changes daily. So far, we have done elephant transect (finding and dissecting elephant dung to determine what they have been eating), and inspecting sand traps (daily visit to 9 pre-determined sand traps and look for animal tracks).


12 pm: Break time! We find our way back to the field house to have a few hours of free time. This includes lunch time! Lunch is always a light meal, consisting of rice and veggies. This is also the hottest point in the day, and calls for some much needed shade and water. A few times this week we went swimming in the lake nearby, which is so nice because it overlooks the mountains.

3:30 pm: Depart for evening activity. The evening activity is always subject to change, but so far we have gone to the tree hut. The tree hut was built by the local staff and sits atop of a tall tree. We sit in the hut and take note of all observations of human and/or elephant activity. I have noticed that the more human traffic there is, the farther away elephants keep their distance. Many Tuk tuks (3 wheeled rickshaws), motorbikes, bicycles, and trucks drive past during the few hours of observation.


7 pm: As the sun is setting, we head back to the camp site to end our day. Dinner is served, and is always my favorite meal of the day (no matter where I am in the world). For dinner we have had noodles, rice with veggies,  fresh fish, and fresh pineapple. We have also watched this Indian soap opera that plays weekday nights at 8 pm called Jodha and Akbar. The other volunteers and I always like to play card games as well. I’ve gotten pretty good at playing “Speed!”

9:30-10:30 pm-: Time for bed! At home I’m usually a night owl, but after a long day’s work, in addition to about 90-100 degree weather, I’m exhausted! I go to sleep in my bed surrounded by a mosquito net filled with excitement for tomorrow’s agenda.

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