When USAC Alum, Rebecca Whistler, returned from her adventures in Cuba, and after some time to gain her bearings, stateside–she did a presentation for the Central Office on Havana, Cuba, to share her thoughts, stories, and ultimately, revisit her study abroad experience!
Ms. Whistler was part of the very first class of students to go on the Cuba program (in 2014). And she had plenty of fun and interesting things to say during her presentation. Here are some of her most memorable quotes:
“As an American, Cuba is one of those places that’s forbidden…and magical.”
“I’ve had a lot of people ask, ‘How do you get into Cuba?’
“Like most of Havana, nothing has been updated in a long time.”
“It’s the largest, most well-preserved center in Colonial America.”
“Cuba wears its history on its sleeve.”
“The Cuban government tries to contain tourism in Old Havana.”
“There is a huge mix between African and Latin American cultures.”
“They took us Salsa dancing, to Jose Marti’s house, the beach and we learned how to cook a Cuban meal. They did a great job at showing us Cuban culture.”
“The last week we were there, the students had the chance to travel on their own. Some students found that it was too hard, but some traveled as far as Santiago, which was 15 hours away.”
“If you want to travel like a Cuban, nothing is really certain. But that was one of my favorite adventures…traveling in a camion.”
“Che is the symbol of anti-capitalism, but they have used his face to make a profit…on hats, bags, aprons.”
“Cubans are incredibly resourceful…they use everything until its last breath.”
“You can’t use debit cards there…you have to budget yourself. If you run out of money, you run out of money.””The food is fresh, lots of meat, pork, rice, and beans. They don’t import a lot of food, so what you eat comes from the island.”
Since then, hundreds of students have attended the USAC Cuba program, and here’s what they had to say.
“This was my first time studying abroad and I couldn’t have chosen a better program, than the program USAC offerd for La Habana, Cuba. The Director and everyone, including professors, touring guides, locals, couldn’t have been sweeter.” – Diana
“It was honestly one of the most eye-opening experiences from seeing a different culture as well as going without internet or phone service for the 3 weeks that I stayed.” – Brianne
“I had the time of my life on this trip. Havana is beautiful, and there’s a lot of fun things to do and see. USAC does a great job organizing fun and educational experiences, and they find relatively great housing for students. They also offer a week-long tour of the island, which is incredible and critical to the experience considering most of the country is not like Havana. Overall an unbelievable, unique, and eye-opening experience, especially because these may be historic times for US-Cuban relations. ” Karyssa
“Studying in Cuba was one of the most eye-opening and different experiences I’ve ever had. Because of our political relations with Cuba, there are so many misconceptions as well as curiosities surrounding Cuba and its people. Getting the opportunity to go to a place where American citizens cannot freely go was exciting and a once in a lifetime experience. USAC did a wonderful job of engaging us with the people of Havana, as well as showing us outside of the city. Having studied in this program makes me want to go back to Cuba on a daily basis, there is still so much to experience!” – Megan
We’re more than excited to offer Cuba as a choice for students, you can learn more about the student experience in the video below.
Read more student experiences from Cuba: