How to Find a Place of Worship
Verto Education is a community where students of all backgrounds can thrive, including students who observe a faith or spirituality. As you adjust to your new community during your experience with Verto, you may want to connect with people of the same faith.
So how do you find a new place of worship when studying abroad?
8 Tips For Finding Your Religious Community Abroad
Although it can be tough finding a place of worship abroad that feels like home, the challenge presents a unique opportunity to connect with your religion in a new way and immerse yourself in the local culture.
Whether you’re searching for a physical location to practice your faith, or a community of like-minded individuals, here are 8 tips for finding places of worship abroad:
1. Decide What You’re Looking For
To find the right fit for you, you may want to start with defining your criteria. What are you looking for in a place of worship? A space to attend worship services, or an active community where you can make friends and get involved?
Some aspects to consider might include:
- Logistics: Where is it located? Can you reach there easily? What times do they have services and do those times work with your schedule?
- Size: Do you prefer a smaller, more intimate vibe, or a bigger community?
- Opportunities: How might you want to get involved there? Are you looking for study groups, volunteer opportunities, social events, etc?
- Language: What languages are services offered in? Would attending services or events in a foreign language be of interest to you?
- Demographic: What is the average age group of the congregation? Is having other young people or students there important to you? Is the congregation diverse (racially, socio-economically, or otherwise)?
Being clear with your own criteria will help to make the search process easier in cities where you have multiple options.
2. Search on Google
The same way you’d search for a cafe or bookstore, you can search for places of worship abroad. Using Google and Google Maps is a great way to get informed on your options, since most religious communities tend to be listed online.
If there are a number of options in the city, you can even limit the search to your neighborhood to find a spot that is convenient.
Finding listings online can also allow you to scour through their websites, and maybe even listen to virtual sermons. This could help you narrow down your options too.
3. Utilize Social Media
Facebook groups can be a great way to find all sorts of communities when you’re studying abroad, and they’re just as helpful when it comes to finding religious communities.
You can try to search for your specific religious group or denomination, like “Buddhists in Florence” for example, or widen your search to something like “Expats in Florence” and pose a question in the group asking about local places of worship.
Additionally, you could try searching hashtags on Instagram, for example #LondonChurches or #LondonSynagogue.
4. Pop-in for a Visit
As you’re exploring the city, feel free to drop into places of worship that you’re interested in. Often you’ll be able to learn more information there, check out an events calendar, learn about their typical schedule, and more.
You may be able to find this information by checking online in advance, though it’s always nice to meet people in person and get a feel for the space.
If you’re in a city with famous or historical religious sites, you may want to stop by those as well. Even if the place of worship is not active, you may see posters about other opportunities or meet someone there who can point you in the right direction.
5. Try It On for Fit
In addition to an initial visit, you’ll most likely want to try out services or events at each option to determine where you feel most comfortable.
Notice how you feel after you leave. Did you have fun? Did something intrigue or inspire you? Did you meet a potential new friend?
Not sure? Don’t hesitate to attend a second service or event – no place is the same every week and it’s a healthy practice to give any new community several chances as you determine how deeply you want to engage.
6. Talk to Your Verto Peers
You might have peers who are looking for the same places of worship as you, or know of someone else who is. You never know – one of your peers may already have a lead on an awesome spot.
Having a buddy to tag along could also make your exploration more fun. If you don’t find someone with the same religious background, no sweat! Feel free to ask others if they’re interested in learning more about your religion and invite them along!
7. Get Involved
If your study abroad experience is located nearby to universities, you may want to check out their religious campus clubs. You could start with a google search like “University of London Jewish student clubs.”
There may also be other faith-based organizations near you that offer other ways to get involved with the religious community abroad, such as volunteering. You could search something like “Muslim volunteer groups in Seville” for example.
Joining religiously affiliated clubs and organizations can help you meet people of the same faith and get you closer to finding great spaces to practice in.
8. Start it Yourself
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Don’t give up just yet. With a bit of leadership,YOU can host your own place of worship or religious community abroad. That could look like starting a prayer group, book club, or religious text study squad. You could host a dinner party on your favorite holiday, or teach your host family one of your traditions!
Still stumped after trying any or all of the above?
Don’t hesitate to talk to your Student Onboarding Advisor in advance of your departure, or your Student Life Coordinator once you’re on-site with Verto.
They’ll be happy to walk you through your options when finding a place of worship abroad, and will support you with anything else that comes up during your time studying abroad!