After three days of traveling from our homes, to Luther, to Chicago and to Panama City, I can officially announce that we are in Cuba! It’s crazy to think that we are in a place that has been “off limits” from the United States for many years, but each moment, we become more comfortable with our surroundings. Our days of travel were nearly perfect as no one was left behind, lost anything, had anything stolen, or got sick. I call that a win! Yet there was one problem…unfortunately as we were boarding our plane to Havana, my phone slipped out of my hand and fell onto the airport floor, which partially shattered the screen. It was kind of a bummer, but sometimes these things happen, especially when traveling. My phone screen may be broken, but my spirit is not!
We arrived in Cuba around 9:30 pm (eastern time zone) on Tuesday night, but we didn’t actually get out of the airport until about 11:00 pm because of customs, security, and waiting for our luggage. When we left the airport we met the Spanish Studies Abroad Program Director, Tom, and our host families. It was a pretty quick transition from airport to host families but it was nice to meet our families right away. To leave the airport, we all hopped on the coolest school bus ever (had a TV playing Cuban music videos) and were each dropped off at our new residences. We got into our rooms, ate some food, unpacked our clothes, and finally went to bed. It was an extremely long day as we had gotten up at 5:00 am in Chicago and didn’t go to bed until after midnight. What a day!
Today (Thursday), we went to the university at 8:30 am and took a short exam, which tested our Spanish knowledge and ability. This test determined our placement for class at the University. It was a little nerve wracking as we probably didn’t have enough sleep to focus on an exam, but we all made it through and are happy with our placements. After our exam, we explored the city with Tom. He took us up, down, in, out, and around the streets of Havana showing us great places to shop, eat, and dance. He also showed us some of the significant buildings and places in the city, such as the Malecon, which is a very long sidewalk next to the ocean. It was fun to watch the waves crash against the shore, but if we weren’t careful the waves could come over the wall and get us wet…(see photo)…sorry Tom! Exploring with Tom was a great way to learn more about Havana and plan some future adventures in the city.
Even though the past few days have been long and tiring, they have also been very educational and fun. Tomorrow we officially start our class at the university and our cultural activities. It will be a very exciting week!
P.S. Go Vikings!