Going on international exchange provides students with diverse and enriching experiences, but it is important to recognize the cultural and political barriers that might affect students’ faith and thus, their experience. When researching potential exchange schools, students are encouraged to consider how their faith is perceived and treated in their destination country. If you are not a person of faith, you should also consider how you will function visiting a country where religion plays a large role. Thus, we encourage every student to research the religion in their destination country.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before deciding on your international exchange and resources for when you go on the exchange.
- To what extent is the country you are hoping to travel to familiar with your religious practices?
- Are there accommodations for religious practices (e.g. private spaces to pray) in your planned host country/city/university?
- What is the perception of your religion in the destination culture and your perception of the dominant religion in the destination culture?
- Do you know what perceptions/laws related to religious dressing are in your destination country (e.g., some countries do not allow religious expression in public).
- Will you have access to a community that shares your faith and to what extent is this important to you?
- Is the country I am planning to travel to inclusive and respectful of my religion? / If the country is not inclusive of my religion, how adversely will it affect my experience?
- Are there legal issues with my religion in my destination country?
- I have a strong sense of obligation to my faith but, can I hold that sense of obligation with humility while I travel and be gracious to my hosts?
- If I express my religion through my clothing (e.g., wearing hijabs, turbans or cross necklaces), will I potentially be treated differently?
- Is it important for me to have access to religious places of worship (e.g., church, temple, mosque) while on my exchange? If yes, will I have access to these places?
- Are religious holidays of my faith celebrated or acknowledged in the country that I will be going to?
- Does my host institution have resources/ student clubs supporting my faith?
- Will my religious dietary restrictions be accommodated in my destination country?
- Hindu Temples Locator