Have you ever considered studying abroad in a friendly, culturally rich and all-year-round warm country? If your answer is yes, then studying abroad in the lively Caribbean island of Cuba is perfect for you. If your answer is no, then you might want to reconsider. Cuba is such a unique and exciting country that everybody should be thinking about going, and here’s why:
Top 6 Reasons to Study Abroad in Cuba
1.) Its cities are like a living museum
One of the first things you will realize when visiting Cuba is that walking through its cities is like visiting a living museum. Cuban architecture is quite mixed – Spanish, Moor, Greek and Roman styles can all be found on the same street. In the capital, Havana, this combination is even more evident. There you will find the Capitolio, which similar to the Capitol in Washington DC, is inspired by French architecture. You will admire the military forts made of stone which were used centuries ago to protect the city, such as the Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana. Then, within a short distance, you will run into plazas, patios and the Havana Cathedral in baroque style which will make you feel like you are somewhere in Spain. Many other cities like Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba also reflect this mixture of cultures in their buildings. No matter where you are in the island you will always be able to admire this architectural diversity.
2.) Its landscapes will take your breath away
Whether you are a mountain-kind-of-person or a beach-kind-of-person Cuba has something to satisfy the eyes of every visitor. To start with, the island is not too wide so no matter where you are, you are always close to a paradisiacal beach or key. While some beaches are very popular and labeled as a “must” for tourists, there are also smaller and secluded beaches that can offer the same white sand and crystalline blue water but without the hoards of tourists. In order to find these spots, you must talk to the locals.
If for any reason you get tired of the sand and sea, you can always explore green areas such as in the city of Viñales. There you will find the getaway to Los Organos mountain range and the Valley of Viñales. The vegetation here is so lush and green that you will feel like you are in a Jurassic Park movie. In here you can also make an excursion into the tobacco and coffee bean plantations, or if the weather allows, go rock climbing in the unique steep-sided limestone hills or as the locals called them, mogotes.
3.) Its people will make you fall in love with Cuba
Speaking of talking with the locals…it’s surprising how people have an innate willingness to help. When I was traveling in Cuba and the lack of internet forced me to ask for guidance, I often ended up with highly detailed set of directions that would get me back on track in a matter of seconds. Other times, I didn’t even have to ask because people around me who overheard where I was headed would just jump into the conversation I was having with someone else and offer me their guidance. However, if you still want to have a sense of where you are at all times, download mapsme. It is a great app that allows you to download maps and navigate without being connected to the internet.
Another particularity of Cubans is that they never seem to be in a rush. Things just happen when they have time to make them happen and there is always time to sit down and have a cup of coffee with a friend or neighbor. They might show up late, but it is not a problem. For in Cuba everyone seems to have their own pace, and everything is still alright.
4.) Its food is a unique mixture of cultures
Although going to a supermarket and buying groceries to cook or make some sandwiches is not a very viable option in Cuba, the amazing Creole food will have you satisfied without draining your wallet. Creole food can be said to be mixture of many cuisines: it is based on ingredients that were brought by the Spanish people but then modified with ingredients that are found in the island and influenced by Africans, Chinese and Arabs. Creole food usually includes a portion of either fish, pork or chicken with several sides like pumpkin, cucumber, tomatoes, fried plantain, green beans and rice with beans (Moors and Christians); which can vary in price between 3 – 6 euros per plate. In small shops or kiosks around the city you can also find sandwiches or ‘bocaditos’ that are perfect for a tasty on-the-go snack.
5.) The broadness of its music and dance will surprise you
Perhaps one of the symbols that is most associated with Cuba is Salsa. However, if you ever set foot in Cuba, you will quickly realize that there is a wide variety of music and dancing styles that you probably have never heard of – Rumba, Chachachá, Son Cubano, Mambo, Danzón, Guaguancó and many others. These rhythms, just like the food, represent the merging of Spanish, African, and even Asian cultures. They represent not only an art, but history, traditions and culture as well. Getting involved and absorbed by their music is not hard. In whichever city you are, you can be certain that you will find a rooftop, a plaza, a street or a room in which you will be able to feel the music moving your body.
Also very significant to note, Cuba is home to the Cuban National Ballet company which is one of the most prestigious ballet companies internationally and has developed a broad repertoire with some of the best dancers and choreographies in the world.
6.) You can earn a Global MA in International Relations
While you enjoy dancing salsa on a rooftop in Havana, you can also be earning a Master of Arts degree in International Relations. Webster University’s GMA program specialized in Comparative Regional Governance or International Regional Security, gives you the opportunity to analyze the operations of world politics and international affairs while living in Cuba. This MA program will not only allow you to increase your theoretical knowledge in a foreign classroom but also take part in professional seminars while learning from a different culture!
- For more information on the GMA program, click here: http://www.webster.edu/catalog/current/graduate-catalog/degrees/global-ma-in-international-relations.html#admission
- For more information on the Cuba campus location and other possible campus locations, click here: http://www.webster.edu/arts-and-sciences/academics/history-politics-international-relations/gma-locations.html
Ready to pack your bags and study abroad in Cuba? Register now for the Global Master of Arts Program with Webster University and begin an adventure of a lifetime!