Georgetown University Student Katya Schwenk Named IES Abroad Correspondent of the Year

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From an impressive pool of 132 Correspondents considered for the award, Katya Schwenk (IES Abroad Rabat | Spring 2019) has been selected as the 2018-19 Correspondent of the Year. 

Through her IES Abroad Blog, Katya proved that she’s a sharp observer of the world around her. Among other things, her writing touched on the value of spending sufficient time in a city to truly experience it, the meditative awareness that comes from living and moving in the unfamiliar, and the necessity of dialogue in intercultural exchange.

Currently studying government, creative writing, and Arabic at Georgetown University, Katya was selected as Correspondent of the Year for her skill, perception, and authenticity as a writer, which were present in all of her nine blog posts. Whether her subject was multilingualism or the dubious nature of time, Katya regularly displayed the touch of a seasoned writer and the openness to experience of a global citizen.

Here are some of our favorite quotes that exemplify those qualities:

I love learning words with no English equivalent; it feels like when someone flips on a light in a room you didn’t realize had grown dark.How to Think in Five Languages at Once

In Morocco, the big dipper is upside-down. Like it might spill soup all over the night sky.Notes from the Sahara

In truth, I chose to fast during Ramadan, yes, out of respect to our family and the people around us, their religion—but also out of curiosity. Islam and its traditions are beautiful, and I saw and heard that each day in Rabat, as the calls to prayer echoed through the city. Yet I felt a great distance from the religion. When I have lived with Catholic host families, for example, I would attend mass with them, though I am not Catholic. In Rabat, I could not go to the mosque, as a non-Muslim. I thought fasting through Ramadan might bring me closer to the religion.10 Days of Ramadan

That’s the trouble with travel—you’re left, often, with a lot of the insubstantial. I can quantify the four months if I try: 1,394 photos, 107 days, four classes, et cetera. That falls flat, doesn’t it? Or I could arrange before me the gifts and knick-knacks I brought home, can hold in my hands here in New England, so far away: a silver teapot, an orange scarf, tile fragments I found on a beach, a trilobite fossil. They’re lovely, but they don’t add up to much of anything.

It’s difficult to pay any kind of decent tribute to my time in such a stunning, complicated place—to the relationships I made, the words I learned, the tea I drank. It’s hard to make it a story. If I could, though, I know where I’d start it: Staring up at Tangier from the docks, into the blinding white unknown.Memories of Morocco

In a recent interview, she told us about her year abroad, how blogging had an impact on her study abroad experience, and her advice for future study abroad students and bloggers.

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Congrats, Katya!

Get the real-life scoop on study abroad from IES Abroad Blogs, where our Correspondents share their unique adventures across the world through writing, photo, video, and more.

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