Who are the intended audience(s) of your Perspective Piece? Students worried about going abroad for the first time without their parents, and Hispanic students who are hesitant about pursuing opportunities”
Written by Angeles V., Junior from Maryland, Pre-College at CET Cuba: Global Perspectives, Summer 2019
Studying abroad from the very beginning was like a dream for me. Once I had heard about the possibility of learning about Cuba’s healthcare, I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity. I had never traveled alone before and I knew that being homesick would be an obstacle I would have to confront. Being raised by parents both from Guatemala and having the constant push and desire to speak and better my Spanish whenever I could, I believed that I was ready to put my skills to the test. Growing up as the eldest child of my family, I was raised with the idea that if you want something you have to work hard for it, and that’s exactly what I did. As soon as I applied for the program in Cuba, I would make sure that I had everything ready to leave in June. Finally, the day arrived and I couldn’t fathom the idea that I was leaving my family for a month and living in Cuba. Going into the airport I was so nervous that I would get lost, something would happen to my luggage, or I would miss my flight. Thankfully nothing went wrong and I successfully made it to Miami where I met up with everyone else. Everyone I think was a bit worried about talking to each other at first; I was glad that our group was smaller than what I expected because I had a feeling that it would allow for us to get closer as a group.
The first week felt as if it took forever to get through it. Our daily activities and the days, in general, seemed to drag on. Everyone still hadn’t warmed up to each other since we were still getting used to being away from home and living with strangers in a different country. Soon everything changed and from there on the second, third, and not to mention the fourth week flew by so extremely fast, all we wanted to do was slow down time. Our entire group had gotten so close that our daily visits and even class felt like we were just spending time together. We were lucky to have a cafe right next to our house, and so whenever we had free time we’d go there to eat, drink coffee, and talk. Another thing that I was so fortunate to have been able to do while in Cuba was go to church. Being Roman Catholic, here at home I go to church every Sunday with my family, and doing so in Cuba made me feel like I was still at home and that I had God watching over me during my trip.
Overall I truly enjoyed studying in Cuba because of the memories and people I met and got close to. In Cuba, I created so many unforgettable memories that even now when I think about them I feel as if I am transported back to Cuba. All of the positive experiences that I encountered in Cuba I would say were because I am bilingual in English and Spanish and that I’m Hispanic. The use of Spanish helped me connect with the culture, customs, lifestyle, and people on a much deeper level because I could communicate with no problem. At first, I did have some difficulty understanding a few words because of the accent Cubans have, but after a few days, I heard no difference between the Spanish I heard and spoke at home. I had the opportunity to completely emerge myself and feel part of the Cuban community. Taking this opportunity made me feel so proud of myself because I know that many Hispanic students aren’t given the chance or don’t have the finances to go abroad and study what they’re interested in. I am very happy that I was able to represent my community abroad and hopefully serve as a motivation for others to search and find those chances to do what inspires them and drives them to make a change for our community as a whole. I hope to find other circumstances where I can continue to study abroad and put myself in new situations and learn the most from those experiences.