I have been back in the United States for about a week, and I’m now getting used to being home. The first couple of days, people would ask me how I felt about being home and what it’s like to be in Cuba. At first, I felt ambivalent about being home, back into the monotony of suburbia. And I didn’t (still don’t) know how to describe Cuba without saying it’s beautiful. It’s been hard to summarize my experience because it’s not without American norms like many probably expect. I often feel like any explanation I give of the island is insufficient because it really is a place one has to experience for themselves. That’s the thing about studying abroad, there are many small experiences inside of one large experience that cannot be explained — they need to be felt.
A lot of people ask me what I miss about Cuba, and my default statement is the fruit since it doesn’t have preservatives and is much richer than our fruit here. But there’s so much more that I miss. I miss the ocean and its clarity. I miss walking around Havana after the sunsets and the ice cream flavors. I miss prices not being expensive due to capitalism. I miss the endless amount of trees and the graffiti on the walls. I miss the stray cats and dogs that roam the streets. I even kinda miss taking classes because it was more about learning than the grades. And I especially miss the residence and everyone that worked there.
There are things that I did in Cuba that I can never do in the States, but that happens in any foreign country. I would say that going to Cuba has shown me everything that I want to do more in my everyday life in the States. I want to go out more, to clubs and concerts but also just outside in parks and museums. I want to give back more to the local community. I want to pay more attention to foreign affairs and have some understanding of what’s going on. I want to continue improving my Spanish, so I feel more comfortable speaking it.
It’s bittersweet to no longer be in the most beautiful city in the world, but I am happy to be back and share the things I’ve learned.