Religious and spiritual beliefs are crucial components of cultures around the globe. Some countries have state-sponsored religions, in which religious doctrine weaves into legal and social codes, while other countries have separation of church and state. Even in countries with formal separation of church and state, religious tenets may still significantly influence cultural practices. Take a moment to research the role of religion in your host country, and if possible the region/community you will live in, especially if you may be part of a religious minority while abroad. You might consider the following questions:
- What is the degree of religious freedom in your host country? Is it safe to wear religious symbols and/or clothing? If you plan to practice your religion abroad, are there places of worship in your community? Is there a stigma attached to atheists or agnostics? Are there any cultural practices that specifically address women or men?
- Familiarize yourself with the dominant religion and customs of your host country. Keep this information in mind when it comes to your dress, appearance, and behavior in public.
- Department of State Reports on International Religious Freedom
Each year, the U.S. State Department publishes a report on international religious freedom. You can search by country, and find detailed information about laws and practices.
- DiversityAbroad.com's section on "Religious Diversity for Study Abroad"