Through my study abroad program, Medical Spanish and Public Health in the Yucatan, provided by IFSA-Butler University, I have had the opportunity to experience first hand the different lifestyles in which many people live. From living with a family in the city of Merida, Yucatan, Mexico (which is much like living in a very safe city in the US) to sleeping in hammocks with native Mayan people, I have been able to experience so much. The program has also given me the opportunity to visit Havana, Cuba for a 4 day, 3 night trip. This was an extremely unique opportunity that I was given the chance to experience.
Since I only spent 4 days in Cuba, and I didn’t travel outside of Havana, I can’t speak for much of the country, nor can I really provide an accurate opinion of it. I only have what I was able to experience during my short time there. One thing about Cuba that really stood out from the beginning is that the people living there felt so much pride in being Cuban. They love their country and are proud to be from there. The city is full of old looking cars that the country is known to have, creating a very fun and old-timey atmosphere. The museums are also amazing, especially the Museum of the City, along with some of the architecture. There is also a lot of great street artwork. Something that was striking though, was the lack of resources.
Since I was staying in a neighborhood in Havana, I was able to experience the side of the country that most tourists are not able to. In less popular places of the city, there seemed to be less upkeep on the buildings. Also, restaurants were not able to serve everything listed on their menus due to some kind of food deficiency. In stores was very clear that rum and cigars are a staple of that country, while water seems surprisingly scarce.
Though I was unfortunately not able to see the beaches there, I’m glad I got to experience the way some Cubans live. I believe that as a tourist, it may seems like an amazing trip back in time, but after my experience, I know that I would detest living in that kind of society. This is especially considering all of the freedoms and opportunity that I have experienced in the United States that Cuba seems almost devoid of.