Religion and Spirituality
Whether you will be practicing your own religious/spiritual traditions while studying away, or navigating an entirely different and perhaps deeply religious culture, you will want to consider the impact this may have on your program choice, preparation, and your entire travel experience.
In coordination with Macalester’s Center for Religious and Spiritual Life (CRSL), we offer the following questions for your consideration, with a list of resources to assist you. Both CRSL staff and our CSA staff welcome your questions, comments and concerns. We invite them at any time: as you decide where to study, as you prepare to leave, at any time throughout your semester away, and after you return. Please never hesitate to email, call, stop by or make an appointment with any of us who are here to support you in the CSA and CRSL.
Questions to Ask—Selecting a Program
- How do you plan to practice your own religious tradition while abroad?
- Is religious practice/observance a consideration for you as you consider study away?
- It may be helpful for you to consider your own observance practices as you think about:
- travel during holy days/seasons
- availability to a community of spiritual/religious practice
- privacy of living/housing arrangements
- diet and culture of the country to which you are traveling
- relationships with other students
Questions to Ask in Personal Reflection and/or in Reaching Out to an Advisor or Chaplain Before You Study Away
- Are you coming from a religious or spiritual tradition?
- If so: How do you navigate this experience at Macalester?
How will you live out your own observance in a new environment and context? Can you articulate your religious needs and the ways you can be flexible with them in a new environment?
- If not: What experiences have you already had encountering religious traditions and practitioners? How comfortable was that for you? What tools would you like to engage to learn about these traditions and people?
- If so: How do you navigate this experience at Macalester?
- Will you be encountering a new religious or spiritual tradition during your time away?
- What do you anticipate in this experience?
- What questions do you have about what it may be like to experience this tradition?
- How can you learn about what customs, practices, dress, food ways, etc. are culturally appropriate for the place or family with whom you will be staying? Consider these questions before packing your bags!
- Read online about the traditions and place
- Ask your program leaders or host family
- Meet up with peers who have studied there
Would you be interested in talking with a Macalester College Chaplain about any of these questions or other concerns regarding study away? Please contact the staff directly here.
Tradition- and Culture- Specific Resources for Study Away
- Zabihah: Directory of halal restaurants and stores worldwide.
- Islamic Finder: Directory of prayer times, Islamic organizations, and mosques worldwide.
- Salatomatic – Find a mosque near you!
- Halal Trip – Prayer direction, & in-flight prayer times
- Federation of Student Islamic Societies – For Muslim students studying in the UK
- KAHAL: Resources for Jewish students studying away, including information on how to keep Kosher.
- European Union of Jewish Students – Contains a listing of Jewish student organizations in Europe.
- All Hindu Temples: Hindu temple directory in more than 50 countries.
- Church Finder: Directory of international church listings.
- World Buddhist Directory: Searchable directory of Buddhist centers around the world.
- International Humanist and Ethical Union: IHEU is the world union of over a hundred Humanist, rationalist, secular, ethical culture, atheist and freethought organizations in more than 40 countries.
Resources for Learning about Global Religious Traditions
- Macalester Center for Study Away Staff
- Macalester Chaplains! Reach out before, during, or after your study away — we’re glad to reflect with you and offer tools.
- Diversity Abroad: Tips and must ask questions about religion for study away students (part of a broader guide about diversity and inclusion abroad).
- Pluralism Project: This 25 year study (hosted by Harvard University) provides a reliable database of information about world religions, places of worship, and is a trusted repository for articles, scholarly research and interfaith dialogue.
- The Changing Global Religious Landscape (Pew Study)
- Pew Research Center studies religion and demographics in the U.S. and globally; explore this study and many others.
- BBC Guide to World Religions: Brief overview of religions around the world with links to additional resources.
- U.S. Department of State International Religious Freedom Report: The Department of State’s annual report to congress on international religious freedom, describes the status of religious freedom in every country.
- Feeding my Faith as a Global Citizen , by Charles McKinney
Once You Return from Study Away
- Did you identify with a religion/faith/spiritual tradition before studying away?
- If so, how did you live out your own observance in a new environment and context? What did you learn?
- What were some challenges, joys, or growth moments of this experience?
- Did your experience of your tradition or its practice change in any way while you were away?
- Did you encounter your own religious tradition while away? What was this experience like?
- Did you witness, experience, or engage a new religious or faith tradition during your time away? What was it like?
- Whether or not you already had a tradition, how did you navigate this new religious tradition? What were some joys and/or challenges of this experience? What surprised you?
We Want Your Feedback
We recognize that you came to this website looking for information and resources. If there is something specific you were looking for but didn’t find, please let us know using the feedback form link below. We will do our best to help you find resources that meet your needs and add them here as well. We also welcome suggestions for including resources that you have found on your own that we have missed.