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What A Typical Day Was Like While I Volunteered in Uganda

Posted by Emily Henkel on 9/2/22 11:37 AM


"I spent a whole semester living in Uganda and I got asked all the time — what was living there really like?"

I loved loved loved my ILP semesters ... I did one semester in Asia and when that wasn't quite enough, spent another semester in Europe. But now, ILP has tons of volunteer locations I wish were an option when I was looking! Truth be told, I'm just a bit jealous of the volunteers who get to spend a whole semester in Africa! 

Luckily, I have a friend who volunteered with International Language Programs in Uganda and got her to share all the details about her semester.

Wait, not an ILP volunteer yet? 
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First off, know that everyone in your ILP group is going to have a different experience even though they're all living in the same place, eating the same food, and sometimes even teaching the same kids. And that'll be the case no matter where you go with ILP!  Everyone is unique and reacts to situations differently. There are also things that change around from semester to semester (like your school schedule or group size) — but keeping that all in mind, here's a peek at what a typical day looked liked for my friend Lindsay, on her semester in Uganda: 

In The Morning

"We teach in the early morning here, so some of our teachers are up around 6:45 AM to grab breakfast. The go-getters are up earlier to help our lovely cook make it)! Breakfast is usually eggs, zucchini/banana bread, french toast with homemade syrup, or pancakes, with homemade juice (passion fruit, mangos, and pineapple — YUM)!

"After we eat and wash our dishes, we quickly get ready to be out the door in time for school. Both schools are just around the corner from where we live, but the walk is always interesting. We are usually walking by when the local neighbors are opening their shops — they love to say "hello, mzungu!" (it's a nickname for foreigners). The roads are crazy here, so we always walk in a single file line along the roads to avoid getting hit by any boda-bodas (motorcycles) zooming by."


Time For Teaching 

"The kids are FULL of energy, and they LOOOVE their "teachas"! First thing walking through the school gate is a mass group hug from all of the kids! Some teachers will share a big classroom, or the big outside courtyard area.  It takes a lot of effort to keep the kids under control here — they are very excited and easily distracted so the teachers always need to be reminding them to pay attention! Of course Kitchen is a big hit, but the kids are also always excited to make a craft! The more objects, the better (just make sure they can't snatch it out of your hands!).
"Song time is best when it's a song that gives them a chance to dance — these kids are adorable when they get a chance to bust a move!  These kids also love gym, which gives them a chance to use some energy (they have loads to spare)! They are also always wanting hugs and cuddles (which is impossible to resist!). These kids have SO MUCH energy, but thankfully they respond to routine which has been our best friend." 

A Typical Afternoon

"After school we come home to a delicious meal cooked by our cook  — think tacos, spaghetti, beef stew with chapati (like a thick tortilla), or curry are all lunch options. She loves trying new recipes and making things she knows we'll love. After lunch is over, everyone splits off to do their own thing. This could be taking a nap, catching up on laundry (plan on hand washing your clothes), reading, watching Netflix, or playing card games.

"Some days, we help with other projects around our community or go to the mall and get snacks, clothes, or ice cream (or to go see a movie). Or, we go to the African Craft Market and bargain for some souvenirs. There are way too many cool trinkets and cute dresses and perfect gifts here.
"Our group also likes to go to the second-hand markets and bargain for clothes and shoes — think $15 for a pair of name brand shoes, $4 for dresses and other clothes, and $2 for really cute earrings!  Our onsite staff loves coming with us on all of our adventures (and helping us snag a good price). Later in the day, we love to visit another nearby school where a lot of our students live. We go play games with them, sing songs, and they also love to play with our hair (haha)! Sometimes we get to help fill canteens (from the nearby fresh water spring a past ILP group help build) and take them inside the school to help out" 
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Dinner + Before Bed 

"Later in the evening, some of us will help our cook make dinner (we always switch off). Dinner is similar to lunch, plus some soup, since it cools down at night. In the evening we like to watch movies on the projector in the dining hall, plan upcoming vacations, or play games ... The power can go out at any moment (although luckily it isn't on the daily), so it's smart to have something to do that doesn't necessitate WiFi! Sometimes we'll do a High Fit workout as a group — evening is the perfect time to do it when it's not so hot.
"On any given day, there could be a downpour of rain for about 30 minutes and then it will go right back to sunshine. When it rains sometimes we have a dance party, other times we stay dry inside. But be sure to take at least a few rainstorms to dance in the rain! 
Quiet time is 10:30, so by that time we're all getting ready for bed since we have to get up early to teach — And that's it!" 

Thinking you could get used to living abroad for a semester? 

Come volunteer with ILP! We have countries all over the world where you can really dive into the culture and get to meet a group of fellow volunteers to teach, travel, and live with (but we have a real soft spot for Uganda). Get all of your questions answered below by someone who's volunteered with us before and can help you out. 

Discover Uganda






Topics: Africa

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