If you get value from spiritual studies at home, keep that going while you're living abroad. Four months and lots of the free time is the perfect time to complete a goal, like a spiritual study.
Having spiritual goals are even better when you have the resources to help you get there. We've gathered up some of our favorite classes put out by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or its members geared towards improving your personal study.
You don't need these tips unless your trip is planned!
Click here to start your application for your ILP semester abroad
When I was volunteering with the ILP program and living in China a couple years ago, our church building was a three hour drive away and it cost $30, which added up quickly. We would do devotionals on Sundays with some of the other volunteers in my group, but I think I got the most out of independent study. Some of the things that were most helpful to me were:
- Come Follow Me
Attend an Institute class: In person and Online
Scripture Study Group
Free BYU Religion Study
Come Follow Me
This is probably my number one choice for ways to dive into the scriptures! I personally love having the actual book handy to write down notes, thoughts and impressions as it guides me through the scriptures. If you don't already have your own, you can usually buy an affordable copy at Desert Book. But the online version is super user friendly too!
Come Follow Me is a great way to study the scriptures and you can even stay on track with studying the same things that your friends and family are studying back at home. You can follow the prompts and not skip a beat with getting the spiritual knowledge that you are looking for.
One of the things that I love about this program is that it is filled with videos and activities as well. Just download the free Gospel Library app and then click on "Come Follow Me" to have a more interactive study.
There are multiple programs geared towards different age groups. I love the course for "Individuals and Families".
Do you already have specific subjects that you would like to study? These manuals are super helpful for that. You can browse through these Institute subjects to get a deeper understanding of the gospel and specific doctrine. I always have a more effective study session when I am actively writing down what I am learning. Just like taking notes in school, it helps the information stick in your brain just a little bit better.
One thing that ILP volunteers don't usually realize up front is how much free time you actually have during your semester abroad. So why not make the most of it and get to know the locals in your country! There could also be institute classes happening in the wards and branches in your city and it's a great way to dive into the scriptures and make some new friends. Just ask around at your local Ward or Branch to see if there are classes available.
Scripture Study and FHE Groups
This is a really easy one to do, it just takes a few times to get into the habit of actually committing to it! I sometimes lose track of what I am studying if I am not around people to talk about it. I think that there is so much you can get out of a group scripture study.
Are you living by yourself with a host family? You could always Facetime or video call other volunteers in your group, or give your family a call and tell them all of the amazing things that you've been learning. You don't even have to pack those heavy scriptures if your suitcase is filled to the brim with school supplies and your go to snack that you pack to survive your semester abroad. Think about it...you have all of the books in the scriptures, a hymn book, every Ensign/ conference talk/ and teachers' manuals in the history of forever right in the palm of your hand. Literally.
I feel like every time I listen to podcasts it's like a mini pep talk and I absolutely love it. Living abroad is challenging and some days just knock you right over. You love those kids with all of your heart, but sometimes after being the supportive one for so long, you need a little boost yourself and that is totally okay and normal. We have an ongoing list of podcasts in the ILP office. One of the favorites is "Better Than Happy" by Jody Moore.
To give you a gist of what the podcast is about: An LDS wife and mom goes over EVERY personal issue with goals, spouses, friends, family members, body image ... you name it. She is super relate-able and explains everything super simply in my opinion. She teaches you techniques that help you grow within yourself, and listening helps a ton with changing your thoughts and outlook. It totally helps with turning negativity into positivity.
Free BYU Religion Classes
Did you know Brigham Young University offers free courses to dive deeper into tons of different categories? And you don't even have to be a student!
Some that sound the most interesting to me are Personal Development and Teachings of the Living Prophets. This is similar to Come Follow Me and the Institute Manuals listed above, but if you miss taking those college classes and have some extra free time, this is a great option too!
Living on your own for the first time is a great time to create and stick to spiritual habits. It can be a little bit of a challenge at first if you aren't used to this habit. But there is no better time to start than now! You will be amazed at what choosing even just one of these tools to try will do for you and for your life.
Considering joining a group of American volunteers for a semester abroad?
Many ILP volunteers are members of the Church of Jesus Christ and it's a great way to meet new friends who have values similar to yours. Get an extra spiritual boost, learn more about the culture you are living in, make new friends .... what are you waiting for?! Click that button below to learn more about volunteering abroad with ILP — International Language Programs sends college-aged volunteers to countries all over the world to teach English or volunteer in an orphanage.