It is easy to take for granted the religious freedom we experience in the United States. Other countries may not be as tolerant of other religions or belief systems. Before going abroad, students should learn about the religion(s) in their host countries and its impact on government and society.
Spending time in a country with a religion different than one's own is a great opportunity for students to learn about different beliefs and religious traditions. This may lead students to question their own beliefs. Many students say they come home with a better understanding of their religion or spirituality and themselves.
Things to Consider As You Prepare to Study Abroad:
- How will people perceive your religion?
- Is your religion represented among the host country nationals you may interact with?
- Is it possible for you to openly observe your religion in your host country? Is your religion legal in your host country? Are there any religious observances that will be difficult or impossible for you to participate in abroad? Is it safe to wear religious symbols and/or clothing?
- Are there laws regarding religion (e.g., proselytizing Christianity is banned under Chinese law)?
- Are their places of worship or other community locations for your religion that you can access in your study abroad location?
- What is the attitude of people in your host country towards other religions in general?
- How are atheists and agnostics perceived in the host country?
- What do you know about the religion(s) of your host country and the role it/they play/s?
- How are religious holidays observed and celebrated? Will you want to participate/is that possible?