The Caribbean island of Cuba is a mysterious and exciting place to study abroad! Since Cuba reopened its doors to the U.S. in the 1990’s, thousands of students have chosen to study abroad in Cuba. Those who study abroad in Cuba will find that the native people, Cubanos, are very proud of their country and welcoming to visitors, and the nation’s sub-tropical climate makes studying in Cuba a wonderful option year-round. Through your preconceived notions out the window and see for yourself what Cuba has to offer!
Since the relationship between the United States and Cuba is still being graduallynurtured, the capital city of Havana is the most common location for students to study abroad in Cuba. With a population of 2.1 million, Havana is a lively city with plenty to do and see. Some of the top sites in the city include, Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña, a fortress built in the 18th century, Plaza Vieja, the city’s old square, and Museo Napoleonico, a museum with a collection of pieces from the 18th and 19th century. Students who study in Havana will most likely attend classes at the University of Havana, one of the oldest universities in the region.
Cuba has much to offer throughout the country. Students should most definitely visit the exquisite beach town of Baracoa, while studying abroad in Cuba, and experience Cuban nightlife; nightlife in Cuba is always booming with local music, lively restaurants, and a significant amount of dancing, all over the neighborhood streets of the Havana especially. Students will find Cuba to be an easy country to navigate, with a wide range of buses and public transportation options in the cities traveling to other parts of the country.
Study Abroad in Cuba
Studying abroad in Cuba is an excellent choice for students looking for a unique learning experience abroad. Spanish is the official language of Cuba but most Cubanos have a decent knowledge of the English language too, and there are some study abroad programs in Cuba that have courses taught in English. However, study abroad in Cuba will usually entail taking some intensive Spanish language courses, as these courses are regularly part of program requirements, and most require Spanish Language skills to participate. Most study abroad programs in Cuba will base language courses on the knowledge of the student, however, so beginner level Spanish courses will be available for those who are just starting to learn the language.
Aside from studying Spanish in Cuba, other common areas of study include politics, international relations, Latin American studies, and art history. International relations and politics specifically can be incredibly eye opening for students in Cuba due to the nation’s very unique political history, it can also provide students with a better understanding of how Cuba became what it is today. Some study abroad programs will even offer courses specifically on the history of the relationship between the United States and Cuba, which can be particularly interesting for American students to take. On the other hand, courses in art and culture, will introduce students to the Cuban people, help them understand the local way of life, and learn the techniques of past and present Cuban artists.
International students can study abroad in Cuba almost any time of the year, though summer programs are especially popular.
Scholarships & Costs
Purchasing a flight to Cuba can be a bit more expensive than traveling to other countries in Latin America. However, the prices of expenses within Cuba, such as restaurants and hotels, are very comparable to those of Europe. The US dollar is accepted in most areas in Cuba however, the Cuban peso is still the main currency of the country. Students can expect to eat at an inexpensive restaurant while studying in Cuba for $5, have a cappuccino for just over $1, and purchase a monthly transportation pass for only $1.
Study abroad programs in Cuba differ in cost based on the duration of the program and what types of accommodations and excursions are included, which can vary greatly. If you are thinking about studying abroad in Cuba be sure to check out available scholarships for study abroad in Cuba to help cover the costs of your program.
Accommodation & Visas
Many study abroad programs in Cuba offer homestays as accommodations for students, which is a wonderful way for individuals to become immersed in the culture and learn more about the Cuban way of life. Dorm housing is another very popular option and available to most study abroad students too. The organization in charge of your study abroad program in Cuba will be able to help you find the right accommodation for you.
Those who want to study abroad in Cuba will need to obtain a visa. As all institutions offering study abroad programs must have a license authorizing international students to attend, the institution you will be attending will assist you with the visa process. Be sure to speak with them upon acceptance to sort out your visa as soon as possible. Tourist visas are valid for only 30 days, but have the option of extending for another 30 days at immigration offices in Cuba. However, after the 30 day extension individuals have to leave the country before being allowed to stay longer in Cuba.
Benefits & Challenges
Cuba is a communist country and, therefore, a very unique study abroad destination. Students who study in Cuba must have an open mind and realize that it will take them a significant amount of time to get accustomed to the local culture.
In order to help students experience the Cuban way of life best, they are often given a carne, or student id card. The Carne allows students to receive discounts at festivals, museums, dance clubs, and other exciting attractions, so be sure to register for one early on. While studying in Cuba all students should take some time to enjoy the culture of Cuba, by experiencing concerts, festivals and traditional dances.