The faculty in the Religious Studies Department is well-traveled. We teach about religious traditions throughout the world, and some of our members conduct their scholarly research in various foreign countries. For that reason, we encourage our students to enrich their study of religion by means of college-sponsored study abroad programs. In the recent past our students have studied on six of the seven continents of the world-North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. The religious studies courses that our students take in foreign institutions count toward their religious studies major or minor at Gettysburg. Although most of our students study abroad for a single semester, students are permitted to study for two semesters in two different locations. Therefore, we encourage students to study abroad during the sophomore year, so that they can go abroad again during one of the two semesters of their junior year or during the first semester of their senior year. As you will see from the testimonials that some of our majors and minors have written, study abroad adds an important dimension to one's educational experience at Gettysburg College.
My experience of studying abroad in Japan for two semesters was amazing and enriching. Being afforded the experience of living in my ethnic homeland helped me find my own identity as an Asian-American. I learned a tremendous amount about the culture, customs, as well as the religion in the country. Already being born in a Japanese speaking household, I thought that my advances in the languages would be negligible but I was mistaken. There are many subtle intricacies with any language that one can only grasp when immersed in that culture. Going abroad to Japan was the best decision I made at Gettysburg College.
Nantes is a city steeped in its history, identity, and culture bumping up headlong against modern nationalism and centralization. Traveling there gave me a glimpse into this border between cultures, the France of Paris and the government, and the France of the provinces. Living there with a host family gave me a sense of the rhythms of their life, their traditions, and their delicious food. Studying there at the local university gave me a sense of how the French view themselves, how their popular culture is visibly similar yet deeply different from our own. Most of all, studying abroad in France for a year encouraged me to meet many new people, learn about them, and, through exploring our differences and similarities, learn surprising things about myself. You will too, if you go abroad!
During the spring semester I spent four months living in Rabat, Morocco enrolled in the School for International Training (SIT)’s program focusing on Multiculturalism and Human Rights. During this time period I lived with a Moroccan host family within the Old Medina (Old City) of Rabat. One of the highlights of my semester was being able to travel to the Sahara Desert. During the last month of the semester, I was able to conduct independent research on interfaith relations in Morocco. I interviewed community members and leaders from the Moroccan Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities in order to explore the complex dynamics of interfaith and intercultural interactions within Morocco.
I spent my spring semester abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France, which is located in the southeast section of France. I took classes at the Institute of American Universities and lived with a wonderful host family. While in France, I got to travel to different towns in my region as well as Paris, and other surrounding countries such as Ireland and Germany. Study abroad was easily the best experience I've had during my time at Gettysburg. I learned so much living in another culture, with people who didn't speak my language, and got to learn about life in another part of the world.