For some TALK International students, spirituality and/or religion make up for a necessary and important part of their lives. When entering a new country our students may find it hard to find groups or places where they feel they can congregate with others who share their beliefs. For other students, perhaps, spirituality and religion may be something they have never considered or thought about.
Much like individuals themselves, nations are also distinguishable by theirdegrees, and nature, of religious or spiritual commitment and observance. Some countries have what is called a state religion, in where all daily religious life is prescribed. Countries like the US are characterized by their very varied and diverse religious practices, but other countries are more bound to a particular religion, but very tolerant of other belief systems including those citizens who do not necessarily observe any established religion.
In every culture, religion mostly remains a fundamental part of life. It influences behavior, shapes world-views, and is reflected in architecture, poetry and art. Whether you’re a student who honors the Hindu beliefs which originated in India, or the Christian influence which has led to the great Renaissance artists, or a Middle Eastern Islamist aesthetic, enshrined in mosques and the beautiful call to prayer, the special traits of that religion will stay with you and be embedded into your life no matter what other countries you later may visit.
How to Find Religious/Spiritual Companionship in your Host Country
When studying abroad, students are encouraged to participate in events which are spiritual or religion based to help further their understanding of different cultures and religions. Of course, they must feel comfortable and welcomed in these settings. Much more often than not, they will find great warmth and acceptance.
A great way to find religious companionship is to do some research about selected groups, gatherings that are available in your host city. If attending a different religious gathering to the ones you are used to attend, always be mindful and respectful of different beliefs, rituals, and believers there. Depending on the religion you are looking to experience, you may have to have respect and observe certain spiritual rules, such as covering yourself or parts of yourself, having your feet and hands washed, entering a place of worship barefoot, etc.