After receiving a brochure in the mail for an opportunity to study abroad, Riverbank High School senior Lydia Hodges packed her bags and made her way to the United Kingdom.
In December, Hodges signed up for the Oxbridge Academic Program where high school students have the opportunity to study specific subjects at universities like Harvard, Oxford, and Cambridge for a few weeks. Since she was able to do priority registration, Hodges selected Engineering as her major and Neuropsychology as her minor selecting also to study at the University of Oxford. There was an optional program called the Paris connection which she also participated in that allowed her to spend one week in Paris.
Although there is a cost associated with the program in the range of $10,000 some students have the opportunity to obtain scholarships to help offset that cost.
Spending part of the summer studying at Oxford and being a tourist in Paris, Hodges made some new friends and had a great experience.
With approximately 400 students from 40 different countries, there were several teens sharing the overseas experience.
“We actually had a couple kids from England that were there,” said Hodges. “They were telling us all these little nuances and things of being in England and then our teachers for the most part were from England.
“So just getting to see the different culture and we had an open campus so when we weren’t in class or at meals we could wander around all of Oxford because Oxford the University is basically this small town.”
The open campus allowed students to explore; however, they were not allowed to use the public transportation.
Hodges was part of the engineering team and they had different projects to work together on like building a robot, a motor and creating something out of Jenga blocks.
“They teach the Oxford way which is the tutorial system,” stated Hodges. “In the tutorial system you have one or two kids who have a tutor who is an upper classman. We would refer to them as a mentor but (with) difference in languages they call it a tutor.
“When you first apply to Oxford you actually have an interview with your potential mentor, part of getting in is if they think that you are interesting and if they think you can handle being at Oxford.”
The mentors meet with the students once a week to discuss their classes, the social scene, and will tutor if necessary.
The students that participated in the Paris connection flew from London to Paris for a week of activities and exploration.
“Paris was a lot of fun but very busy,” expressed Hodges. “They had us doing a morning activity and an evening activity so we would go to a museum in the morning and then a different museum in the afternoon. We had about an hour at each place so we were busy all day and we didn’t spend very much time in one area.
“We still got a lot done.”
One of the museums that stood out to Hodges was the Pompidou, which is a modern art museum. Hodges explained that the design of the building itself is art with all the plumbing and pipes on the outside so people can see them.
Traveling overseas alone and going to a place where she did not know anyone made the experience an adventure.
“It (the program) really teaches a lot of responsibility and independence,” expressed Hodges. “It really shows you where you are going. It kind of showed me if this is really what I want to do for the rest of my life.
“It basically solidified for me that yes, I do want to major in engineering.”
Along with classes Hodges also participated in punting and rowing, which led her to join the Stockton Rowing Club when she returned.
Hodges will be graduating from Riverbank High School and has plans to attend Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo because of their engineering programs.