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Keeping up with your faith

Before coming to Costa Rica, I was wondering how I was going to stay active with my faith while abroad. I was a little nervous because my whole life, I’ve grown up in a Christian household where it was part of our routine to go to church every Sunday along with other religious activities throughout the week. I’ve never been on my own for an entire semester; nor have I had to figure out where I was going to go to church by myself. My faith is something that’s important to me and I wanted to make sure I maintained it while in Costa Rica.

Visiting a Catholic church on a field trip.
Visiting a Catholic church on a field trip.

But, it hasn’t been as easy as I thought. My time abroad so far has been filled with schedule changes, unpredictable situations, and me just trying to enjoy the country. Here are a few things I’ve done to try to keep my faith active even though I have been busy.

Be open about my faith

I’m the type of person that isn’t super vocal about my faith unless asked directly about it. While in Costa Rica, I’ve been more proactive about saying out loud what I believe or my religious interests. For example, I’ve mentioned to multiple people what denomination I’m part of, my beliefs, or that I want to visit churches while I’m here. It surprised me how many other students I’ve encountered that have beliefs similar to mine or are very open and accepting of what I’ve told them about my faith. Religion can be a tricky subject to talk about with others especially if you aren’t sure where they stand on the topic, which is why I don’t tend to be as vocal about what I believe. But, talking to other students in my program about it has made me feel a lot more comfortable knowing there are others like me who believe similar things and may have the same interests as me, such as finding a church to go to. 

Visit a church

I’ve only been able to visit one church since I’ve been here, but I plan to visit another and hopefully attend every Sunday. Everyone was very nice and welcoming at the church I visited but it was a little hard to understand the sermon because it was in Spanish. It kind of reminded me of my church back home with the structure and the fellowshipping that happened afterwards between the congregation. It was an interesting experience.

The church I visited that's conveniently close to where I'm living.
The church I visited that’s conveniently close to where I’m living.

For me, I think finding a church to visit will provide some comfort since I can create a similar routine that I grew up doing with my family. It also will allow me to come into contact with other believers and possibly form new relationships. And, since I’ve mentioned wanting to visit churches to some people in my program, I’ve found a few friends that are interested in visiting with me. I’m generally used to being one of the only Christians in programs I’ve joined in the past or just with my friends in general so I was expecting to be visiting places alone. Finding friends to go with has definitely been a blessing. It can make the experience of going somewhere where you don’t know anyone a bit less intimidating.

Devotions

I would define devotions as spending time with God, whether that be reading the Bible, praying, meditating, or many other activities. Engaging in devotions has been more of a goal of mine since arriving in Costa Rica because I haven’t done them a lot. But, I’ve done them consistently at home before and have experienced the impact it can have, so it’s something I want to do more of while I’m here. It has brought me relief from stress and closer to God. It helps me to realize I’m not alone in the things I go through. I would recommend doing devotions while abroad for anyone, but especially for people who want to stay active in their faith while being away from home. 

It definitely has not been an easy journey since I’ve been here, but trying is what counts. I hope this can encourage someone who has been or is in a similar situation as me.

Read about another student’s experience abroad navigating religious traditions here

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