This weekend I attended the 55th birthday party of the Overseas School of Colombo. It was held in the grand ballroom of a nearby conference center. Not too shabby for a developing world location!

When Shaun and I announced that we were going to pack up our lives into a couple of backpacks (literally) and volunteer for a couple of years in Sri Lanka, we got mixed reactions. They ranged from many people commenting that they wished they could do the same to people saying “I didn’t think you were so stupid.” Most people back home often end by telling us they could never do such a thing.

I can see why; I mean as I spent last weekend soaking up the sun at our gym’s pool and sipping a gin and tonic, I couldn’t help but think, “Man, this volunteer gig is tough!” Sarcasm aside, our experience has been full of ups and downs, but hey isn’t life always? I expected life in Sri Lanka to be different, and it certainly is, but it is also the same in many ways.

We are in a large city with many things to do. As long as we don’t mind spending the money, we can acquire a large variety of foods. I have a gym I go to regularly. There is never a shortage of things to do on weekends. Having traveled quite a bit before, these were all things I expected to find in a city the size of Colombo, but there are other things that surprised me. For instance, the literacy rate in the country is 94%, the life expectancy is 74 years old and the fertility rate is 2.31 births per woman. These all stack up much closer than I thought to the Canadian rates of 99%, 80.8 years and 1.68 births per woman.

For more myth busting about the developing world and some general statistical insight on the way the world has been changing, check out this YouTube video. In this video, Hans Rosling busts through some misconceptions with the dynamics of a sports caster.

I’m interested to see what stat surprises you the most. Please post under the comments. (This is also a crooked way to get more comments on a post than Shaun ever has!)