In many countries, religion is connected to everyday life and culture. As a result, studying abroad provides you with an opportunity to learn about world religions and the effect it has on different cultures. Being exposed to different belief systems during your time abroad can help a you navigate through your own religious or spiritual identity. As a result, it is important for you to research about religious life in the country you will be living in prior to departure, and while abroad, it is important to have an open mind about religious practices. By being prepared and aware of the difference or similarities in the host country, you will be able to better understand where you are living.
Before departing, you may want to consider these questions:
- What is the dominant religion in my host country?
- Will I be part of the religious majority or minority abroad?
- Are there any laws regarding religion? Is there a separation between religion and government?
- How tolerant of other religions is the host society? Is there tolerance for atheists and agnostics?
- Is it safe for me to wear religious symbols or clothing?
- How will it feel to me when I participate in course-related excursions to sites of worship?
- Is it realistic for me to continue to practice my religion abroad in the same way I practice it at home or on campus? Are there any adjustments I am willing to make?
- Are there any places of worship I can visit? If not, how will you plan to practice your religion?
- Will religious dietary be accommodated in my host country? Am I open to living in a household with a different religious background than mine in a homestay?
- Are there any religious holidays that are celebrated as public events?
- Is there a dress code I should be conscious of for places of worship?
- U.S. State Department Religious Freedom Information: This annual report documents the status of religious freedom in every country around the globe.
- Religious Diversity Abroad: Diversity Abroad provides questions, answers and tips to help guide your religious journey abroad.
- KAHAL: Finding your Jewish home abroad.
- BBC Religion and Ethics
- Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project
- The Pluralism Project
“As a Jewish woman, I was worried about going abroad. I was so used to celebrating the High Holidays with my family, friends and peers in a place I’m very comfortable going to and wasn’t sure if I’d ever find a similar community. However, I discovered KAHAL, an organization providing Jewish students with various Jewish experiences throughout the world.” -Ariel Hylton ’20
Learn more about Ariel’s journey: Finding my religion in Madrid.
- FlipKey Study Abroad Scholarship is open to full-time students over the age of 18. Write a 1,000 word essay describing why travel is important to you.
- Masa Israel Journey provides grants and needs-based scholarships for your study abroad program in Israel.
For more information about your host country or countries of interest, contact your International Program Advisor. To learn more from your peers, we encourage you to reach out to Global Ambassadors. These are alum from various programs and locations that are willing to discuss their experiences with you and answer your questions!