Religion & Spirituality Abroad

The topics of religion and spirituality are good ones to explore, especially if they play a prominent role in a student's life and/or in the culture of a student's host country.  Students who practice a particular religion may want to learn more about how their practices and beliefs align with the practices and beliefs of their host culture.  Students who are interested in studying abroad in a country where religion plays a major part in day-to-day life, including people's diets, social norms, and national laws, may want to learn more about that aspect of their host culture before traveling there, regardless of their own religious or spiritual practices.

Things to Consider Before Going Abroad

Adapted from Northwestern University's "Identity & Diversity: Religion & Spirituality Abroad" webpage:
and Diversity Abroad's "Diversity & Inclusion Abroad Guide: Religious Diversity Abroad":

  • How much do I know about the religion(s) of my host country and the role religion plays in society? What is the dominant religion?
  • Will I be a part of the religious majority or minority in my host country?
  • What is the attitude of people in my host country toward other religions?
  • How will people perceive my religion? Is my religion legal in my host country?
  • Are there any laws, in general, regarding religion in my host country? Is there a separation between religion and government?
  • Will I have access to my religion's place of worship or religious groups? If not, how will I adjust my religious practice while abroad?
  • Will my religion's holidays be observed in my host country? If they are not, how do I plan to observe them in my own way?
  • Will my religious dietary restrictions be accommodated in my host country?
  • If I plan to live in a homestay, am I open to living in a homestay with a diverse religious background from myself?

Things to Consider While Abroad

Adapted from Diversity Abroad's "Diversity & Inclusion Abroad Guide: Religious Diversity Abroad":

  • How does the role of religion in my host country compare to the role of religion in the U.S.?
  • How tolerant is the host country of other religions? How tolerant are they of atheists and agnostics?
  • What places of worship and/or religious communities exsit in my host country?
  • What are the ways that I can respect the religion of my host country and participate in cultural events, even if I don't practice that religion?
  • Is it safe for me to wear religious symbols or clothing in my host country?

Highlighted Resources

Suggested Articles

Suggested Websites

  • The Pluralism Project, Harvard University. Selected Links. This website acts a hub for links to resources about religion and spirituality around the world.
  • U.S. State Department. International Religious Freedom. This website links to an annual report issued by the U.S. State Department regarding the status of religious freedom around the world. 

Additional Resources