I am looking forward to having my preconceptions challenged as I spend almost four months experiencing life as an international student at the University of Havana.
I’ve been asked why I am going to Cuba, as opposed to other countries. It’s a good question, as many students go to countries like Spain, Mexico, and Costa Rica to learn Spanish. I’ve wanted to go to Cuba for so long that it’s hard for me to answer. I’ve also had classmates show me pictures from their recent trips to Cuba, and I must admit I was a little jealous.
Anyone that knows me knows that I am both a fan of jazz music and something of a nostalgist. So, it is hard for me not to romanticize Cuba as its prevalent images are classic cars, salsa dancing, and Afro-Cuban jazz. I was able to catch a Buena Vista Social Club (one of the most internationally known Cuban musical groups) concert on their final tour back in 2015. I first heard their eponymous album while surfing the web for music back in high school. I fell in love immediately with it by the end of its first track. I think of a combination of all of this made Cuba the destination for me!
I have a few goals for myself while I am there. Primarily, I want to practice Spanish, explore the city, and meet local students. I am also hoping to practice journal writing and mindfulness while I don’t have constant internet connection (and therefore constant distractions).
I know most of my time will be spent studying for classes, and I’m sure that the first month will be rough adjusting to the cultural differences and language barriers. But I hope I come out a better traveler, student, and world citizen by the end of the program.
I am very lucky to be going in the first place. I am grateful that my parents believed in my dream and supported it, as they have always done for me. I would not have this incredible opportunity if it were not for them.
In my next entry, I will be on the ground in Cuba. Hopefully exchanging currency (Cuba has a dual currency system) and getting an internet card (necessary to access the internet there) won’t be too difficult.
I am looking forward to sharing my adventures in Cuba!