I knew that I wanted to make my very last semester of college special, so what better way than studying abroad? I had to study somewhere in Latin America because of my major, but Cuba is actually one of the places I had never really thought about visiting. I learned more about the country in a couple of my major classes and became interested in the complicated relationship between our country and theirs. I also learned a little about the culture and the aspect of creativity all throughout Cuba. It just so happened that this year’s Cuba Study Abroad program offered all of the classes I needed to graduate so that really sealed the deal.
When we arrived in Cuba, we were amazed by all the beautiful old cars at the airport. When I think of this memory, I think if something my Spanish teacher said to our class while we were there. She said “All the colors in Cuba are brighter. The skies are more blue and the plants more green”. We thought that it was funny that she said that but now that I am home, whenever I think about the adventures we had in Cuba, my memories are always bright.
We drove about an hour to get to the houses we would be staying in. All the homes in Havana are originals, none of the buildings have really been renovated because they do not have very many construction materials to work with. The houses were homey but spacious, and all of the families were very welcoming. The first couple of days we were there were dedicated to showing us around and getting us used to living in Havana.
In some ways, Havana actually looks similar to Charleston. The streets are lined with colonial style mansions. The way of life is much different though. In Cuba they do not have an excess of things like we do here. In the United States it is easy to find exactly what you are looking for and if you cannot find it, you can order it online. Since the United States has an embargo on Cuba it is very difficult for the people living there to get items we would consider necessities. They also have very limited access to internet which was definitely a shock to us at first. It was refreshing to live in a place that forced us to slow down a little bit. While it was difficult at first, it was really nice to be more engaged in real life than constantly on social media. My time in Cuba really made me realize how much we have here that we don’t even necessarily need. It made me realize that the time we spend with the people we love to be around is better spent when you are not constantly being entertained, when you have to make your own fun, and because of that my study abroad group created a bond that will last forever.