Lydia A.

Lydia A.
Lydia A.

Lydia, who grew up in the small Alaska town of Haines, had a very un-Alaskan experience during spring break 2023.

“They took us to Morocco, and we got to camp in the Sahara and ride camels,” said the sophomore, who spent the semester in Madrid, Spain.

Lydia, a mechanical engineering major, knew she wanted to study abroad when she came to . So in January, she flew across the world to attend the University of Carlos III Madrid.

Lydia had a host family arranged by a private educational travel company, which also organized activities such as her Morocco visit. The family home sat in Madrid’s culturally diverse center.

“You walk two blocks and it’s like you’re in a new town,” she said. “And you always have GPS when you’re finally ready to go home.”

She spoke both English and Spanish with her host family. But university classes were in English, with many American students. “I don’t think I would have been able to survive Physics II in Spanish,” she said.

Lydia, a participant in ’s climate scholars program, hopes to use her degree to develop renewable energy in rural Alaska.

As a first-year student with support from ’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity, she compared a national lab’s model of solar radiation in Haines with data from local sensors. “It was surprisingly accurate,” she said of the model.

Lydia said she looked forward to returning to ’s “hands-on” engineering program in the new Usibelli Building. “Last semester, I just walked into the machine shop and I was like ‘I want to learn how these work,’” she said. “That’s been a great opportunity.”