Places you'll go will stay with you

The last time I wrote an article for the paper, I was headed off to study travel writing in Prague, Czech Republic. Two months later, I can confidently say that my time abroad was life changing.

While I was in Prague, I experienced gratitude and excitement for life like never before. I formed connections with the other students on the program, and we all went from strangers to friends in no time at all. I made memories that will live in my mind forever- swimming in a pond at sunset in the middle of the Czech town Ceský Krumlov, eating trdelník (think of the best dessert you've ever had) in a park in Old Town Square and exploring all the different restaurants and coffee shops in the city.

Every walk through the streets of Prague, every delicious latte, every laugh shared with the group and every memory made - good and bad - brought me closer to a version of myself that I had been hoping to find and reminded me of what it means to be truly alive. Between my comfortable routine of work, school and a social life, I think I had forgotten some of that. But my trip to Prague (as well as a quick stint in Berlin) made me remember.

After my trip, when I was writing a reflection about it for the Experiential Learning Office at the University of Georgia, I was asked how my long-term goals have changed. My answer to that is that they haven't - at least not much. I still hope to follow my passion for writing by becoming an editor or by writing my own book. But I have established one new goal. I want to try to live each day as I lived it in Prague - happy, grateful, hopeful and excited for what's to come.

Now, I'm back at UGA for my final year of college. I am finishing up my journalism classes, and I am working as an assistant editor of one of the desks at The Red and Black newspaper. Although I am dedicated to my school work and my new position, I also am determined to soak up every moment here that I have left - football games, dinners with my roommate, nights out with my new study abroad friends and all of the moments in between.

And although this year will inevitably end - I'll say goodbye to my friends and our four incredible years at UGA will become wonderful memories - I'll know I made the most of it. So even though I'm actually here in Georgia, I still feel like I'm in Prague - and that's a feeling I hope I'll never lose, no matter where life takes me.

- Katie Hughes of Hinsdale is a senior at the University of Georgia. Readers can email her at [email protected].