Religious and Non-religious Travelers
Religion and spirituality are large parts of cultures and customs around the world. Education Abroad programs offer students a unique opportunity to explore these fascinating elements of life in different countries, enriching students’ knowledge and understanding of the world around them and their place in it.
In addition to gaining an understanding of the countries and cultures students are directly exposed to in their programs, exposure to different belief systems while living and studying abroad may prompt questions about your own religious identity and may cause you to reflect more about your religious or spiritual practice.
To best prepare for your experience abroad, we recommend researching religion and spirituality, as well as attitudes towards differing belief systems, as it pertains to your host country before you go abroad. While abroad, keep an open mind to ensure that you get the most out of your experience.
Things to Consider
- Will you be part of a religious majority or a religious minority abroad?
- For some students, studying abroad may be their first experience as a member of the religious majority or minority. This change in perspective can be educational, but it is important to consider how that affects daily practice of your religion. Students should consider whether it will be appropriate to wear religious symbols or clothing, as well as the availability of places of worship or worship services. This may be difficult to research online, but students can connect with their Study Abroad Advisor for assistance.
- If you are planning to practice your religion abroad, are there any places of worship you can visit? If not, how will you plan to practice your religion?
- What do you need to know before visiting religious sites, whether or not you'll be practicing there (dress code, etc.)?
- How tolerant is your host country about religion and spirituality? How are atheists or agnostics perceived?
- If you have religious dietary restrictions, will they be accommodated in your host country?
- Students with dietary restrictions should discuss them with advisors to ensure that they will have access to appropriate food options. It is likely that every program will be able to accommodate your needs, but discussing it with advisors will prevent possible discomfort or inconvenience later.
- What religious holiday are celebrated as public events in your host country?
- U.S. Department of State Annual Report
- U.S. Department of State Human Rights Report
- U.S. Department of State Advancing Freedom and Democracy Report
- BBC World Religions page
- Diversity Abroad
For students searching for a particular religious or spiritual group abroad, the following sites may provide helpful information: