Though there may be commitment to religious diversity and freedom in the United States, this may not be the case in the country where you'll be living and studying. While abroad, you will likely have encounters that challenge your notions of spirituality.
Take the opportunity to understand the social and historical views of religious acceptance and tolerance within your host country. In doing so, you may also question your own values and beliefs and arrive at a better understanding of yourself.
Being familiar with the world's religions and how religious diversity is defined and understood across cultures will help you have a rewarding and safe international experience.
Making friends with those who have grown up in a different culture is one of the most rewarding aspects of studying abroad. You can alleviate potential misunderstandings by learning in advance as much as you can about the culture where you'll be living. Please feel at ease to discuss your questions and concerns about this or any other issue with any of the Office for International Study staff members.
How to Prepare
Begin researching now by looking at the resources below, talking with international students and program alumni on campus. While abroad, talk with your new friends, host family, conversation partner, teachers and others who are interested in discussing religion, faith, spirituality and the ways these issues are understood.
CU-Boulder's Resource Center for Media, Religion and Culture: highlights resources for understanding how the mass media are playing a role in commemoration, stereotyping and global peacemaking.
The Pluralism Project: engages students with the realities of religious diversity through research, outreach and the active dissemination of resources. This site offers extensive information on world religions and focuses on emerging meanings of religious pluralism.
U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report: detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom and individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide.
World Religions: a comprehensive list of Web sites about world religions.