Every second in Cuba is an adventure Past Review

By (Arcadia University) - abroad from 08/29/2016 to 12/15/2016 with

Arcadia: Havana - University of Havana

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Living in Cuba is hard, but it is so worth it. I gained so many new experiences, perspectives, and ideas from this program.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The resident director of our program was incredible. Although she had her own daily work to do, she would still drop everything to help any of us in any sort of emergency. She also made sure to fully immerse in Cuban culture by keeping us up to date with events and taking us to different places.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We lived in a renovated house and it was stunning. We lived by ourselves, but throughout the day we constantly had Cubans there that we could interact with. To ensure our safety, a doorman was constantly by the front gate to make sure we were the only ones leaving or entering the house. The living arrangements felt clean, safe, and very welcoming.

* Food:

Cuban food is some of my favorite food, so I was extremely happy in Cuba. Havana is full of different restaurants with all different types of food. As part of our program, we were given breakfast and dinner each day. These meals were usually traditional Cuban meals.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Taking classes alongside Cubans, living in a house full of Cuban workers, and constantly walking the streets of Havana meant that I was constantly communicating with Cubans. They would ask us questions, so we would answer and ask them questions. I think it is hard not to find yourself culturally and socially integrated into Cuban culture while in Havana because it is a bustling city full of vibrant people.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had pre-existing condition before arriving to Havana. While it wasn't necessarily fixed throughout my stay in Cuba, the health care system was helpful. My resident director would always take me to the clinic and we'd see countless doctors as they would try new techniques and new tactics.

* Safety:

I don't think I ever felt unsafe in Havana. Cuba is a pretty safe country. My only advice for future students is advice I'd give to anyone travelling to a foreign country: don't wear anything flashy, don't flaunt your wallet and electronics, and be wearing of your belongings. Pick-pocketing can happen to anyone in any country!

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Traveling to Cuba is a once in a lifetime experience and it truly was an amazing adventure.


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

I had just come back from another semester abroad when I went to Cuba, so I didn't have a lot of money to take. But the good news is that Cuba isn't expensive, so I was able to travel, do, and see the things I wanted without going over budget.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50-60
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Keeping an organized weekly budget really helped me stay on top of what money I had left. Without the budget I definitely would have overspent.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

I think it would be impossible to spend a day without speaking Spanish in Cuba. It is true that I was speaking English a lot with the other students in my program, but just daily living meant speaking Spanish (from buying lunch, getting in a taxi, walking to class, participating in class). I participated in the Cuba program so that I could improve my language skills.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Intermediate
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Cubans are very open-minded and friendly people so it is really easy to strike up a conversation. There are tons of events to go to where it is easy to talk to other people. The key to practicing a foreign language is to just go for it.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • location of house in havana
  • resident director
* What could be improved?
  • n/a
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Before going on this program, I guess I wish I knew just how different Cuba would be and how hot it is. But then again, these are things that you really can only learn once you get there.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'