Sri Lanka has been described by some as "India lite". Similar to its northern neighbor, locals are open and inviting, there's a strong love of curries, and many lush, tropical jungles to explore. At the same time, Sri Lanka retains a very laid-back island vibe and has a history and identity that's uniquely its own.
Since the nation re-opened its doors to tourism in 2010, several opportunities for high school abroad programs in Sri Lanka have also popped up (though, they are still few in number). These programs focus on immersing high schoolers in everyday Sri Lankan life and teaching students about Sri Lanka's culture, history, or wildlife. It's a fascinating country to explore, and currently is at a unique point in its history. Go, spend part of your high school years exploring Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is great for students who love wildlife, want to volunteer with elephants, or have an interest in South Asian culture and history.
On one of the few high school study abroad programs offered in Sri Lanka, students will have the opportunity to focus on medicine, Sri Lankan culture and history, and / or development. Some programs also involve a volunteer component or travel to nearby countries.
Volunteer programs are more flexible for high school students in Sri Lanka and will generally have a focus on education, community development, conservation work (particularly with elephants), or healthcare.
Both volunteer and study abroad programs for high schoolers are offered during the summer months in Sri Lanka.
Most high school students won't be in Sri Lanka for more than 30 days and, as such, can enter on a tourist visa (American, Canadian, and EU citizens at least). You can receive one on arrival, but we'd recommend applying and paying for your visa in advance. Learn more at the Immigration Services of Sri Lanka.
The dry season in Sri Lanka is from December through March, and the rainy season in the west and north west is from May until December and in the east coast and northern region from October to February. Throughout the year, Sri Lanka has hot, tropical weather. Be sure to pack:
- A flashlight (in case of power outages)
- Breathable sneakers / trail runners for hiking
- Lightweight clothing
- Bug spray
- First aid kit
- A quick dry towel
The capital is Colombo and is Sri Lanka’s largest city. It’s rich with art and culture, and students will find many activities and, though most travelers only pass through, is a great place to visit markets and try any Sri Lankan food you haven't been able to find elsewhere.
The second largest city in Sri Lanka is Kandy. It's only a few hours by train away from Colombo and a popular spot for travelers, volunteers, and students. Kandy is also a sacred Buddhist site in Sri Lanka, and is a wonderful place to learn about the religion and traditions of this country.
Negombo is a stunning beach town and another popular city in Sri Lanka, and is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sri Lanka is very inexpensive and students can get by with a budget of $15-30 per day (less if you're in a rural area and your program fees cover your meals). A meal at a restaurant is around $2 USD and water is around $.30.
Whether students are in a shared hostel or a homestay, expect for the accommodations in Sri Lanka to be very basic. Electricity and running water should be available (though you may not have hot water or electricity 24/7) but A/C isn't common in budget accommodations. Mosquitos are a problem, especially at night, but your program / accommodation should provide you with mosquito nets.
There are no required vaccinations for Sri Lanka. However, students should still be up to date on any routine vaccinations. There's also a low risk of malaria in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is considered to be a pretty safe country. However, it's best not to walk around at night (both in urban and rural areas -- each for different reasons) and to be aware of your surroundings.
Always follow your program provider's instructions when it comes to dealing with wildlife and behaving in a culturally appropriate manner.