The topics of religion and spirituality are important ones to explore, especially if they play a prominent role in your life and/or in the culture of your host country.
Students who practice a particular religion may want to learn more about how their practices and beliefs align with those of their host culture.
If you are interested in studying in a country where religion plays a major part in day-to-day life, including people’s diets, social norms, and national laws, you will want to learn more about that aspect of the host culture before traveling there, regardless of your own religious or spiritual practices.
Things to Consider Before Going Abroad
Adapted from Northwestern University’s “Identity Abroad: Religion & Spirituality” 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 religious background different from my own?
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 my host country of other religions? How tolerant are they of atheists and agnostics?
- What places of worship and/or religious communities exist 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?
- IES Abroad. Religion & Spirituality Resources
- Nayeem, Thamine. “I Choose Openness” (Video)
- U.S. State Department. International Religious Freedom.
- Brown, Morgan. “Keeping the Faith While Abroad.” IES Abroad: Blogs. 16 Feb. 2020.
- Brown University. Religion & Spirituality Abroad
- George Washington University. Religious & Non-Religious Students Abroad
- Kahal: Your Jewish Home Abroad
- Mckinney, Charles. Feeding My Faith as a Global Citizen. Diversity Abroad: Study Abroad Articles, 21 January 2015.
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