Religion & Faith

Students who have specific religious or faith practices may experience unique opportunities and challenges while studying off campus.  In many parts of the world, religion and faith play a large role in the local culture, customs, and norms.  This offers students a unique opportunity to practice, explore, and experience their traditions in another context – or juxtaposed with and/or alongside other religious or faith traditions.

Helpful Links:
A Roamin’ Catholic: Maintaining Faith Abroad – IES Blog
Diversity Abroad – Religious Diversity Abroad
For God’s Sake: Religion & Study Abroad – CAPA Blog
Keeping the Faith: religious Difference and Experience Abroad – IES Blog
The Pluralism Project – Harvard University 
The U.S. State Department – International Religious Freedom

Additional Considerations:
– Do your research!  How is the religious or faith tradition practiced in your host community?  Can you attend services, holidays, events, etc.?
– What does the religious or faith community look like in your host community?  How visible are they?  Are their organizations you can join?
– What is the dominant practice in the host community?  How does the dominant practice relate to your traditions and/or observations?
– How can you support the religious or faith needs, traditions, etc. of peers, your host family, etc.?
– Is your host community tolerant or accepting of other religions or faiths – how about of a-religious, atheist, and agnostic identified individuals?
– Is is safe and/or legal for you to practice, wear religious symbols/clothing, etc.?
– If you are interested in doing so, what are the cultural appropriate ways you can participate in religion and faith practices, holidays, traditions,etc. that are not yours in the host community?
– Will your host community observe times of fasting while you are on your program?  If so, how will you participate or not?  If you do not plan to participate, consider how you may access food during the fasting period (if shops and restaurants are closed).
– How might you react if your host community or program challenges your beliefs or practices?
– What are the host community laws around religion and faith?  Is there separation between religion and government?
– How flexible is your schedule in terms of practicing your religion or faith?  Do you need specific times made available to you?  IOS strongly encourages you to speak with us, College Ministry, or with the on-site faculty or program directors about what your needs may be while off campus.