In the spirit of trying new things while studying abroad, I decided to take up one of my Bajan friend’s request to accompany her to church. Growing up in a nondenominational Christian household, I am no stranger to attending church; however, I knew very little about the Seventh Day Adventist denomination. Although Anglicanism is the most popular denomination in Barbados, there are several different prevalent denominations, including Seventh Day Adventist.  

While studying abroad in Ghana last semester, religion was a very important part of the local culture. The exchange students would often joke that the locals would only want to talk about family, school, and religion. Although I did not attend church while living in Ghana, there was an on-campus organization that held a church service very close to my dorm. The services were often so loud that it felt like there were speakers broadcasting it into my dorm room. In Ghana, it was common to have church services on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights, as well as all day on Saturdays and Sundays. On some occasions, we were actually happy that the electricity was out because it meant the service could not be broadcasted through giant speakers at full volume. Because we essentially attended church five days a week in Ghana without intending too, we didn’t feel the need to physically go to the service; but it was something on my Barbados bucket list because it is such as big part of the culture. 

My friend picked us up at 9:45 AM and we began our drive to the service. Unfortunately, we were rather underdressed for the occasion, but my friend said it didn’t matter because everyone knew we were visitors because we were the only people in the congregation who were Caucasian. It was a longer service because they were celebrating communion. Later I learned in the Seventh Day Adventist denomination, communion is celebrated at the beginning of each quarter. Although I could not understand the preacher very well, it was interesting to listen to him. I sat next to a very kind stranger who realized I couldn’t understand the preacher and let me read her Bible from her tablet. Halfway through the service, everyone from the church walked downstairs to wash each other’s feet, as is customary at Seventh Day Adventist services. At first I was apprehensive about touching a stranger’s feet, as I don’t like feet to begin with, but my friend’s daughter persuaded me to go with her. She taught me about the sentimentality aspect of cleaning someone else’s feet (which only consists of pouring clean cupped water over the top of someone’s feet). She taught me how the act symbolizes humility and is also a way used to “clear the air” after people have been fighting.  

After we went back up and listened to the rest of the service and the church members participated in communion. Everyone was very welcoming and friendly. Some of my friend’s friends even offered to take us parasailing before we come back to California. Everyone wanted to meet us, we must have met over 60 different people. After the service, it is customary for everyone in the church to eat together. Everyone brings food, potluck style, and sits in small groups enjoying their feat. Although it is not required as part of the religion, Seventh Day Adventism encourages vegetarianism. We had the best vegetarian feast I could have ever imagined. We are even meeting up with one of the church members to learn how to make the (DELICIOUS) lentil patties and cashew/walnut spread! The community was very welcoming and overall it was a positive experience. 

After church, we went to Farley Hill National Park. For anyone visiting Barbados, Farley Hill is a must-see attraction. The view from the top was specular and we were able to see the grounds of the once regal Farley Hill. Despite it being a Saturday afternoon, the park was almost completely empty, which only added to its beauty and serenity.  


At the top of the hill there is a beautiful view overlooking Barbados. Unfortunately, it was a little bit foggy the day we went, so the view was obscured; but being a San Francisco Bay Area native, I’ve always enjoyed the fog. It was truly a site for sore eyes.  

 If you are in Barbados, one of the best parts about visiting Farley Hill is that right across the street is the Barbados Wildlife Reserve. While I have not yet gone, I’ve heard amazing things about it and when I visited wild life reserves in South Africa last November, they were one of the best highlights of the trip. 

The moral of the story here is don’t be afraid to try things that are totally different from your routine at home. You never know what experiences will find you. 



Angela Howard studied abroad in Cave Hill, Barbados, in Spring 2017: