When it comes to studying abroad in college, most students will agree with Senior Sarah Endorf, who believes that everyone should go abroad as much as possible. Elon University grants students multiple opportunities to study abroad during their college career, from the many full semester programs to the popular Winter Term trips. Yet how do the two compare for one’s experience outside of the Elon bubble?

Winter Term Abroad

Most winter term trips travel to multiple cities and countries in three weeks, an experience that allows them to explore a variety of different cultures and environments. Each course has an outlined plan of trips and sites the group will do together, as well as some down time for students to explore on their own. For those who have never been out of the country, the “hand-holding” that usually takes place in the structured setting of these trips is highly beneficial and comforting. Students can feel challenged by the new culture, but have an Elon family to fall back on and reflect with through their shared experiences. Junior Aly Yarwood says that the tighter course schedule enables students to “take advantage of every opportunity that cities have to offer.” Having been abroad for both a semester and Winter Term, Aly believes that the one big downside to Winter Term is that “what a student doesn’t get is a sense of home.”


  • Great opportunity for a first taste at the study abroad experience
  • Structured and organized travel
  • “Hand-holding” through new experience
  • Travel all over a country or multiple countries
  • Close bonding with group of fellow Elon students
  • Unique course focus 
  • Constant pressure to “do and see” everything, wanting to make the most of the short time period
  • Constantly with class as a group = less independent free time
  • Can be difficult cooperating with a large group while traveling
  • No sense of home or belonging in a new environment

Semester Abroad

A student that studies abroad for a whole semester in one country has the opportunity to live and completely immerse themselves in a new culture and lifestyle. For some, this idea can be daunting, particularly when a different language comes into play. But one of the greatest rewards for most students is the ability to explore a place they eventually begin to call home. Sarah Endorf studied abroad in Costa Rica and said that she learned a lot about herself, gaining more confidence and independence than ever before. She said it was “humbling to really feel like you are a minority. It’s something everyone should experience – being an outsider.” Meredith Kornfeind, who spent her fall semester in Cape Town, South Africa, says it was the most amazing four months of her life. She formed such a deep attachment to those she met that it was a difficult adjustment to transition back afterwards. Students who study abroad for a semester often have trouble transitioning back home after the life-altering revelations and self-discovery that occurred in a country nothing like their own. The post-abroad life takes time when one recognizes that while they’ve changed so much in the past three to five months, their surroundings haven’t.   

  • Fully immersed in culture
  • Independent travel plans
  • Mastering new public transportation
  • Develop skills in a different language
  • Living with a host family
  • Learn from your mistakes, self-discovery
  • Homesickness
  • Taking a full course load that can interfere with exploration
  • More consistently vulnerable and outside of your comfort zone
  • Faced with new challenges in daily life
  • Difficulty re-entering U.S.: you’re different, but Elon isn’t.