What drew you to Cuba?
Cuba’s societal history of ideology and revolution fascinated me, and I was genuinely interested in connecting with people from such a different background than my own while delving further into the intricacies of the country’s past and observing how they relate to the present.
What did you study?
The academics were accessible and enlightening, though taught completely in Spanish. I got to choose my courses and opted for the system usually followed at the University of Havana, where a student takes all the classes specified for his or her concentra-tion and year of study. I took the two third-year philosophy courses that fit around the required IFSA-Butler core class and a course on Cuban cinema offered half an hour outside of the city at the beautiful International School of Cinema and Television founded by Gabriel García Márquez. I especially enjoyed learning about the progress-ion of Cuban cinema and history through the evocative social commentary that each film related.
Where did you live?
I lived with three other girls in a local Airbnb, called a Casa Particular. It turned out to be more a host-family situation, as the older couple who housed us were very involved in our lives and loved to educate and help us on various topics.
What were your favorite activities?
I frequented the Malecón during the day, to walk the infamous sea wall and observe the daily goings-about among the tourists and the locals, and during the night, accompanied by my wonderful roommate, to experience and interact with the local social culture.
What surprised you most about Cuba?
I was most surprised by the complexity of life in Cuba. The multifaceted social dynamics, ideological relationships, and remarkable adaptability of the people that I met never failed to impress me. The country is breathtakingly beautiful.
Kaplan had planned to spend the entire year in Cuba, but because of visa issues, she is now participating in the SEA Semester program.