Villanova University Student Mary Kaitlin Enright Named IES Abroad Correspondent of the Year

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IES Abroad
August 26, 2020

From an impressive pool of 119 Correspondents considered for the award, Mary Kaitlin Enright (IES Abroad Cape Town | Spring 2020) has been selected as the 2020 Correspondent of the Year. 

Through her IES Abroad Blog, Mary Kaitlin presented the unpredictable and varied experience that study abroad can provide. Among other things, her writing addressed recognizing her own privilege, being a responsible visitor in a new country, studying abroad and expressing gratitude during the COVID-19 pandemic, her desire and ability to continue to learn about Cape Town even after returning home, and how to maximize your time abroad when the experience is unexpectedly cut short. 

Currently studying Marketing, Creative Writing, and Communication at Villanova University, Mary Kaitlin was selected as Correspondent of the Year for her writing ability, thoughtfulness, and self-awareness in a new environment, all of which were present in her 10 blog posts. Whether her subject was the emotionality of study abroad or the sunsets in Cape Town, Mary put those creative writing and communication skills on display for all of us to enjoy. 

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

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

I cried the first night that I arrived in Cape Town. I’ll admit it. It was scary and overwhelming.

But then the three weeks that followed were fantastic. I met people from all over the U.S., and South Africa, and the world, with experiences like mine and unlike mine—people who have since become my friends. We explored Cape Town, and saw the incredible views and experiences it has to offer. I climbed ladders up the Chutes and Ladders: Abroad Edition game, feeling closer and closer to feeling settled and happy in my new environment. The Emotionality of Studying Abroad: A Game of Chutes and Ladders

It may feel like an experience to us, like a time away from home to explore and enjoy a new culture, a time to study and learn from new and international perspectives. Yes, studying abroad is all of these things. But it is also a time to take a step back and recognize what role we play in the larger picture of the countries that we are visiting. 

Studying abroad is a responsibility. And I hope to take that responsibility with a full heart and a heavy intention. Who’s with me? – The Responsibility of Studying Abroad

Having access to an excellent education, and a robust set of resources to support it, is a privilege...and not one to be taken lightly. As we tread the waters of this difficult time, try to keep this in mind. An Open Letter of Gratitude in the Wake of COVID-19

There are so many ways for me to interact with the nature of my study abroad experience. Through doing the things listed above and more, I will continue to learn from my South African peers and professors (and Nelson Mandela himself in his book!) about the educational, communicational, religious, cultural, economic, historical, and political contexts of studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa.

With my eyes still focused on the same goals and intentions that I set at the beginning of this semester, I look forward to the learning and growth that I will continue to gain through my study abroad experience, therefore crossing those t's and dotting those i's. That way, when I return to South Africa one day in the future (because Cape Town, I’m not done with you just yet!), I will return with learnt insights in my back pocket and see its existence through that lens. Crossing the T in Study Abroad


Congrats, Mary Kaitlin!

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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