Interview with A World-Traveler from Sri Lanka

This is an interview with my roommate, Umanga, who came here to Minnesota from Sri Lanka. In the past year that we have lived together, we’ve gotten very close. Her wisdom has inspired me to look at life in new ways and I’m so happy she agreed to let me interview her about her travel and life experiences. Enjoy!

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On Sri Lanka..

Describe Sri Lanka in 5 words

“Exotic, sunny, beautiful, crowded, smiling people”

Are there any proverbs or sayings in Sri Lanka that you live by?

“Yes, the first is: barking dogs don’t bite and the second is: a pot filled full doesn’t spill water”

What do you want people to know about Sri Lanka who’ve never been there?

“How beautiful it is and how people are friendly. There are some ancient ruins from BC which are interesting to see- temples and statues too. Most of the food is spicy but we have avocados, pineapple, rambutan, papaya, mango, and there’s this green colored fruit- I think it’s grapefruit? But the main food is rice! There are lots of combinations of foods because Sri Lanka was colonized by the Portuguese, British, and Dutch so we have some of their food blended into our culture.”

On Travel..

What countries have you traveled to?

“I’ve traveled to Thailand, Vietnam, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, France, Italy, and the U.S.”

Across the different places you’ve been to what has been common across cultures and what has been different?

“People are different everywhere! People in Thailand have their own culture so they’re much different than the other countries that I’ve been to, but I would say European culture and U.S. culture is pretty similar.

What country has been your favorite so far, why?

“I liked European countries because of the history, but I liked Thailand because of the food. My favorite meal there was this chicken salad I had. They also had this delicious raw papaya salad. Thailand has so much natural beauty- they have mountains and beaches.”

 What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned from travel that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise?

“I’ve learned to survive by myself in difficult situations or unexpected situations like traveling with plans and not taking into account the weather, spending the money to get somewhere, and not being able to do what I wanted to do because of it.”

What advice would you give someone who aspires to travel alone but is scared?

“You should take risks! Go new places, take chances, I also love this saying that was mentioned in eat pray love it goes like this:

‘there was a begger who goes to see god everyday and asks a statue “dear god, please please give me some money”, one day the exasperated statue came to life and told him “dear man go and buy a lottery ticket first and I will give you money”

So it’s like winning a lottery ticket every time you travel and you have to try for it and only then will you achieve it’

that’s what was implied in the movie.”

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