So apparently I don't know how to work these things and I just deleted my blog. Luckily, I only had two entries and the first one I had saved as a word document! How wonderful. I am going to paste it here:
So I don’t even know where I’m supposed to start. I guess the beginning is as good a place as any.
After a wonderful, almost week long goodbye with friends from school and home, I left (very) early Sunday, January 4 to come to Cuba. While I was and still am so excited about my time here and the experiences I will have, leaving my comfort zone is still difficult. When I met up with everyone in the Miami airport at 9-ish, we discovered we were taking an earlier flight and got on the plane to Cuba at around 1:30. So no waiting around the airport forever! Woo hoo,
Getting off the plane was amazing. Leaving the ice and snow in Boston was the best idea I’ve had in a long time. The airport was an interesting experience; we learned that there is one terminal for American flights that is very old and kinda falling apart. Danny said it reminded him of a Cosco, like a big warehouse. But the other terminal for international flights is apparently really nice and modern. And all around the American terminal, there are these giant billboards calling for the end of the embargo, comparing George Bush to a terrorist, and “Viva la Revolución.” We got there a couple days after the 50th anniversary of the revolution, which is a little disappointing, but there are signs and flags and Viva signs all over the city.
We got to our residencia and it is beautiful! It has two floors with five bathrooms and five bedrooms. There are only two boys on the trip, so they are isolated on the other side of the apartment building. I live in a triple with two other girls, Megan and Tara. I knew Tara from a Spanish class I took and she’s great, and Meg is awesome too. We just laugh so much. Living with us is Maria, who cleans our house. She’s so nice but speaks Spanish so fast! She loves American TV and movies, and Grey’s Anatomy is her favorite. Milady is younger and pretty quiet, but she cooks for us and makes the most delicious black beans I have ever had. Chino works for Casa too; he’s the guy we go to if there are problems in the house or anything like that. He’s always around and so nice. He’s a huge baseball fan (he likes the Yankees!) and is going to take me to a baseball game!
Our first day of school was on Monday, which was tough because we were pretty tired and a little overwhelmed, but we only had one class (our Cine class) and we took a tour of our school, Casa de las Americas. It is such a beautiful building and there is so much art and beauty all over the place, which is nice.
Everyone at school is so wonderful, very accommodating and welcoming. Understanding Cuban Spanish is hard, but it’s getting much easier. I can’t wait until I can speak and understand just like that.
Everyone in my program is amazing. We all just clicked right away. Of course I miss my friends and family from home, but being surrounded by good people makes it a lot easier.
We had a walking tour of Habana Vieja Old Havana) our first day here and I love it. It is the first (and only) part of the city that is being reconstructed. The architecture is beautiful, and has a lot of Sevillano influence, which is cool because I was in Sevilla in March. They even have a little Giralda and a Plazas de Armas. There’s a lot of fun shops and restaurants too. And a un museo de chocolate!
Okay so that's all I had saved from the first blog entry, but you get the idea. My second blog entry was about the first rainbow I saw in Cuba. I'm not going to play around with my blog anymore because apparently I don't know what I'm doing.
Anyway, my first week of classes was intense. I am still getting used to the Cuban accent, so it's hard to understand my professors all the time. Also, it is very common in Cuba for a professor to lecture the entire time, even though there are only 12 students in the class. Almost all of my classes at NEU are small as well, and I'm used to discussing things with professors and other students. So it's a bit of a change. Here's a descripción poquito de mis clases:
1. Cuba en el siglo 21: This class has rotating professors who each speak on a different topic about modern Cuba. Sometimes the profs are great, and sometimes they're kinda boring. Today we talked about religion and the revolution, which was cool. We discussed the influencias of Catholicism, Protestantism, Africa, and indigenous culture on Santería, the major religion in Cuba today. So today was cool, but somedays it's hard to take. But its only and hour, so its not too bad.
2. Cuban History through Film: this class is super cool. Our profe, Victor Fowler, knows everything about Cuba it seems. At first, we all thought that he thought that we were stupid Americans because we didn't talk at all. But today we all chimed in with our thoughts and got a discussion going, so I think its okay. And the movies we watch have been good so far. We're going chronologically through time, so we're watching films about Spanish domination, slavery, etc.
3. ¿Afrocuba?: So no one is really sure why this this class has a question mark, but is is totally appropriate. This class is three hours long and one big lecture. Juan Mesa, our profe, just talks and talks, leaving no room for questions. We also have guest professors in this class, but they just talk at us too. On Thursday, some anthropologist came and gave us a 60-slide powerpoint and pretty much listed every book any Cuban anthropologist has ever written. He even put himself on the list. That was the worst 2.5 hours I've had in Havana. But We do cover some cool topics, and the understanding African influence in Cuba is essential to understanding Cuba, so everyone is praying it gets better.
I'll be taking a music class starting in February, when ¿Afrocuba? ends. Dr. Leonard Brown from NU is coming here to teach us, and I've heard he's amazing so I'm excited.
On Friday we went to the beach, which was an adventure. We (me, Tara, Meg, Honorio, and Danny) decided to take the bus there, while everyone else was taking cabs. It took about 2.5 hours, but was kinda fun. The beach was gorgeous; super-fine white sand and bright blue-green water. The ocean was the perfect temperature too. The only problem was that it was really windy, so sand was blowing everywhere. And since I was obvously covered in spf, it kept sticking to me, which was a little gross. Oh well. We met a Russian journalist who has his own show in St. Petersburg, who was nice and we hung out with him for a while. We tried to find everyone else, but we never ended up meeting up with them.
On Saturday we went to the zoo, which for some reason I was excited about until I got there. It was super depressing and sad. The monkeys were the worst; they clearly were very sick and had a variety of tumors. But all of the other animals were so lethargic and malnourished. The weepy lions were sad, and the brown bear had mangy fur and a limp. We met some cute kids who were loco; two of them jumped into the rhinocerous pit! When I asked the third, who was probably eight, why he didn't want to go, he told me it was because the rhino was hungry. The kids were clearly showing off for us, but it was still scary. The only people I saw working there was the woman taking out money, the woman taking our ticket, and the guy who sold us cotton candy for four cents, mas o menos. The zebra was the only lively animal. She was prancing all over the place, taking cookies from everyone. Very sassy.
We also found a peluquería where we can get a manicure and a pedicure for roughly 50 cents! Which is necessary, because my feel are gross from wearing sandals al the time. I'm going to get my haircut there too, but i am a little worried. I'll have to research some vocab before I go (¡no mas corta!).
Here are some pictures that I stole from Meg from our trip to the zoo.