Cuba Is What You Make It

Sarah Todaro University of Havana, Cuba


September 29, 2016

It has been almost a month since I arrived in Cuba and Havana already feels like home. I’ve done so many amazing things that I never thought I’d do and I’ve seen so many stunning places that it is easy to take the beauty for granted. But none of this is to say that Cuba has been a breeze. It has thrown us so many curveballs, but in hindsight those curveballs have just made the Cuban experience that much better. The key to living in Cuba is to live simply and without worries because then the obstacles will do nothing but add a little more spice to your day. It is safe to say that these small struggles have turned into memories that have shaped my Cuban experience thus far. What makes this whole slight ordeal a little easier is knowing that I have a house full of friends to go through it with together. So now I’d like to share some of our favorite Cuban mishaps that have coined the often collectively sighed phrase, “When in Cuba…”

When in Cuba:

  • Sometimes you go to a restaurant to find out that only one dish on the menu is being offered. But sometimes that dish turns into your new favorite meal.

  • Sometimes you go horseback riding expecting a relaxing ride in the woods… But sometimes that ride becomes slightly terrifying when your horse and your neighbor’s horse decide to bicker.

  • Sometimes you go to a Caribbean beach complete with dusty, white sand and crystal clear blue waters only to find that the closest thing to a beach towel you can buy is a floor mat. But then you feel better because you’re not the only American on the beach with a floor mat.

  • Sometimes you go to a salsa club only to find out that you indeed don’t know how to Cuban salsa. But sometimes you realize that clearly your friends can’t salsa either.

  • Sometimes you can’t understand a word your professor said… but sometimes that gives you the opportunity to ask a cute Cubano for notes.

  •  Sometimes you buy ice cream and it melts all over your hand before you can eat it. But sometimes that ice cream is only 10 cents a cone.

Cuba has given me so many new experiences that I wouldn’t trade for the world. And I wouldn’t say any of them are bad experiences. I’ve seen waterfalls, I’ve seen the national orchestra, I’ve gone salsa dancing, and I’ve bought stunning art. I’ve sat on the Malecon and watched the sunset with all of my friends. I’ve had a daiquiri at the same bar as Ernest Hemingway and I’ve eaten delicious street food. I’ve heard beautiful street music and seen stunning contemporary dance performances. All in all, Cuba has been everything I hoped for and more. 

If you come to Cuba with an open mind, it will surely greet you with open arms.


Cuba Semester