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Study Abroad

Study Abroad Course, May 12-30, 2014

Pilgrimage Sites in Europe

The Department of Religious Studies will be offering its third study abroad program this May! Dr. David Bell will be teaching Pilgrimage (RELS 4290/6290, 3 hours credit, Maymester dates) on location at two pilgrimage sites in Europe: Lourdes in southern France and the island of Iona in northwestern Scotland.


The course will offer the experience to see two very different historical pilgrimage sites, as well as provide shorter stays in the larger cities of Paris and Edinburgh. Drawing over a million pilgrims a year, Lourdes is located in the south of France along the Pyrenees Mountains and draws multitudes seeking both physical and spiritual healing. From here, students will be able to study the real world experience of pilgrimage, as well as explore the centuries old sites in this historic town. Following a stop in Paris, students will then travel to the remote island of Iona on the western coast of Scotland. A stunning location for a pilgrimage site, Iona is home to a 1400-year-old monastery with a spiritual community that focuses on both contemplative practice and social justice issues. Following this time, the students will conclude the trip with 2-3 days in the vibrant city of Edinburgh.

What will you learn?

Most importantly, students will engage in the theories and methods of the field of religious studies through direct observation of the religious practice. Specifically, students will learn about the central role of pilgrimage in the religious lives of the pilgrims, the cultural contexts of the two pilgrimage sites, and how to study a religious practice using interdisciplinary methods. Students will keep a pilgrimage journal, meet for daily class sessions, and write a final paper upon their return to Atlanta. While some days will include organized excursions to surrounding towns, mountains, and islands, many afternoons and evenings will be free for the students to explore the sites of Lourdes, Paris, Iona, and Edinburgh.

How can I go?

As one of the least expensive study abroad programs offered by GSU, the program costs is tentatively $2725, including lodging, travel between France and Scotland, and approximately half of the meals. The price does not include airfare to Europe or GSU tuition. Many scholarships are available for students, including Hope for the tuition, students loans can be applied, and the GSU Study Abroad Office assists students in making the trip as affordable as possible. If you are interested, please send an email to The deadline for the first deposit is January 31, 2014, although the program may be filled by this time so register early! You can begin an application at the study abroad website

See you in Europe!