Hello again DU blog readers and I am glad that all of you get to follow this blog and get the scoop about what the study abroad experience is like here in Cuba. I cannot believe the whole group has been here for a little over a week now; I am still wrapping my head around life changing experience. I have wrapped my head around the heat and humidity here in Cuba; the key is staying hydrated, getting as much sleep as a college student can, and taking advantage of pool and swim time. This first week I have spent in Cuba has far surpassed my expectations and has been a learning experience on a grand scale.
This past week was jam packed with learning opportunities in the classroom and outside of the classroom. Our lectures last week included topics like education and healthcare systems in Cuba. We are so fortunate to have the best Cuban professors and speakers to share with us about what they teach and study about Cuba. Whether it is the child or the adult student in the class or preventing health disorders and diseases, we are learning about taking care of the whole individual though community and teamwork. Solidarity means standing with people and groups in respect, mutual compassion, and making the effort to understand and respond to the plight in ways we can help. This message can permeate all aspects of a person’s and country’s life.
We did have some much needed and enjoyable recreational activities over the weekend. We had a wonderful and unique lunch in the heart Cuba’s Chinatown in Havana, had a very well-done tour of Cuba’s national art museum, and then left on Friday for a trip to Vinales. It was a weekend filled with swimming, horseback riding (it was my first time), and shopping at the artisan markets. We were able to go to a cave and explore by boat and we concluded the weekend with a lovely trip to an orchid/plant garden. It was there I discovered my new favorite orchid- the chocolate orchid, since its smell fits perfectly to that treat. The bus ride was worth it to leave Havana and see a more rural area and see more of Cuba in a different way.
Until Next time…
Hello DU blog readers and thank you again for following my blog and joining me on a part of this crazy island adventure. Picking up from my last blog, we did leave from Cuba last Friday from O’Hare to Miami airport and then on to the capital city of Cuba Havana. It was a very early flight (and by early I mean being at the airport at 4 am), but in the grand scheme going to Cuba for a once in a lifetime opportunity just means I put the coffee on and start the journey. There was a delay in Miami, but once we got on the plane for the short 30 minute or so flight into Havana excitement quickly took over tiredness. We were greeted by Dr. Christina Perez, our tour guide and translator for the whole trip.
I want to start by saying, as common as it sounds to say, since being in Cuba these first few days has felt like the best week already! We will be here for the remainder of the month and right off the bat we have already been to a Rumba presentation, had a historical tour of old Havana, and were able to spend time at a beautiful Cuban beach. Just seeing the emotion and passion of the dancers and how everyone joined in the dance only made the Rumba more engaging and powerful. Also, touring old Havana brought us all more in contact will the culture and history of Cuba. I am finally living and learning about the Cuban experience the way we talked about in class. Classes started on Monday and we are taking our classes at FLACSO’s office, and we have lectures in the morning and site visits in the afternoons. We are covering things like education, government and policy, healthcare, and many other topics with a firsthand lens.
I must admit I am a big foodie and I love nothing more than trying new foods or at least having foods and dishes that I do not have often. The Cuban food we have been eating at our hotel and the restaurants we have gone to has been very good. The meats vary from chicken, fish, pork, or beef, and then there is a variety of fresh and prepared vegetables and fruit.We are truly receiving the best here in Cuba not only in terms of food, but also in terms of what we are learning and what we can take back from the study trip.
Until Next Time…
Hello DU blog readers! Thank you once again for coming back to read my second blog about the upcoming study abroad trip to Cuba, which I leave for this Friday, May 10th. The group will leave from O’Hare airport on an early morning domestic flight from Chicago, then on to Miami, and then a flight into Havana. Last Sunday was our final orientation for the trip. It was at this meeting that everyone got a copy of the itinerary, our travel documents which includes a visa and letter from Dominican about the trip. We also discussed plans and arrangements for getting to the airport and what to expect.
After looking at the itinerary for the trip, I am even more excited about the variety of things we will be able to see and do. There will be lectures in the mornings and afternoon site visits where we will be able to experience firsthand the issues and topics we have learned about in our classes at Dominican. The visits will be educational and informative. In addition, we will be able to tour Havana and other parts of the island. Some trips include hiking and cave tours, and we will be able to go to the beach and unwind as well. But enough talking about it, when I am actually there I will be writing about it right as it happens!
April went by so quickly and now that May is here my countdown to Cuba has reached single digits in days. Last week was dedicated to course finals and final papers. While the school year is ending, summer is just beginning and so is this adventure to Cuba. The whole process of preparing for this trip has set up up a great foundation for going on this journey. Another part of this process is packing. I have an idea in my head of all the items I want to take and the list of what I actually need (now the job is to make those lists match). The goal is to not wait till the last possible moment to pack so I will start on Tuesday and Wednesday. So wish me luck !
Until Next Time…
Hello once again Dominican blog readers! It has been awhile, but I am making a blogging comeback to share the scoop that I will be going on the Cuba study abroad trip this summer. I leave in only a matter of time, as a matter of fact, I leave next week! You can say I caught travel bug after my last study abroad trip in Florence, Italy (see posts below). The question all of you may have is “Why Cuba?” and this question has many answers, but I can assure you it for amazing reasons.
I want all of you to know deciding to apply and attend this study abroad trip to Cuba took commitment, hard work, class time, and unyielding support from this university and the director of the program Dr. Christina Perez. Over six, three hour class sessions and two group orientation meetings myself and twelve other DU students and Dr. Lisa Petrov and Dr. Gilmer Cook underwent the part of the journey or the process before the experience of Cuba. Together we have covered topics ranging in but not limited to: gender and sexuality, U.S.-Cuba relations, colonial Cuba, race, and religion on the island. I ask just for second to put side what you may know about Cuba or may have learned from textbooks, and imagine the wealth of new information we have been learning in class.
Study abroad programs at Dominican are a cornerstone of making well-rounded, global citizens out the students who take these trips, and Cuba will be no exception to that. We get to experience this wonderful program over the summer, get course and major/minor credits, and become lifelong learners. It’s an all-around win. I even actually had the honor to present on a panel for Cuba at the Global Learning Symposium with three other classmates. This is the type of experience you want to stay with the Dominican community.
Now, I would love to talk more about the nuts and bolts or logistics of preparing for this trip and being able to go to Cuba. We will be leaving May 10th and returning on June 5th after four weeks of actually experiencing firsthand everything we have learned about. We will be entering Cuba with student visas, which are the special visas we will need to travel (family visits, religious workers, cultural exchange research, and other special licenses are required based on the nature of the trip). Thankfully I did not have to work a getting a passport because I went through that process last summer for the Florence trip. The US flight plans are booked- Chicago to Miami- to Havana and I am in the full swing of gathering what I think I want to pack. But all have been warned…15 pairs of shoes will not be necessary (in my case gym shoes and flats are a must). What I hope to bring to Cuba is a positive American representation and also represent my university in a great manner. What I hope to bring back, aside from many photos, is the experience, friends, and new insights I did not have before. I will be writing another blog post for the week we leave and I hope to keep all the DU blog readers in the loop maintaining blogs while I am in Cuba. But expect blogs and pictures as soon as I can/or am able to post them. It will be like you are all there with us!
Until Next time
~ Dominique ~
Hello DU Blog readers and once again this post is coming from the lovely city of Florence. This is bittersweet time because the past six weeks has truly been one of the most remarkable experiences in my personal and educational life. If anyone, whether you are in college as a student or a adult of any age or background, is interested in traveling abroad, I would highly recommend you go. This experience really took me out of my comfort zone and I was able to experience a new culture, language, food and have a true adventure out of the country for the first time.
Last Thursday was the Dominican group’s last student dinner with our two program directors. It was a night of food, firsts and great conversation. The first new food wild boar, which was served with fresh pasta. I must say wild boar is very tender and I was in a very happy food state after dinner. Prior to dinner, we had lardo (also know as white prosciutto) which you can eat alone, with bread or as a crostini (with olive oil, white beans, and onions, and basil). It was very chewy and thick and before this trip not something I would have thought to buy for myself, but it was yummy.
This past weekend was a nice and relaxing and it is my last weekend in Florence. My roommates and I went to Palazzo Pitti to see the exhibits there.
There was really interesting Japanese art and heritage exhibits there as well as a glimpse into how some of the wealthy once lived in italy. Then on Sunday night we went to see the fireworks display and it also worked for my drawing class assignment as a night drawing. This week is also my finals week for my literature class, and I have enjoyed both novels.
Hello once again DU blog readers,
If you have been following for awhile or just started recently, you know I have been spending the past few weeks in the lovely country of Italy. I cannot even wrap my head around the fact that four weeks have come and gone, and now I am entering the last two full weeks of my summer Florence adventure. Since I have been here I have gotten to see and do so much, and this past weekend was no exception. Friday was a group trip with MSU and ASU to Siena and Saturday I went on a day trip to Venice with a couple of my roommates.
Let me start off by saying that both Siena and Venice have their charm and it it is like you have entered a new place or mini vacation, without having to leave Italy. In Siena we made a stop to go inside the Church where St. Catherine, one of the patron Saints of Italy, relic’s and remains are preserved. Her head as well as one of her fingers is there. I am simply in awe of the condition of her remains, and it makes me wonder how she would feel about her legacy as a Saint. It is truly miraculous indeed.
Not only did we explore in the churches in Siena, we had a amazing lunch with Sienese pasta and cake and we had plenty of time to explore the town and the museums with classic art. Also my trip to Venice was one for the memory books. Venice and its system of canals and waterways is so unique, and it it like a taste of the ocean minus the sand. I spent most of the day walking around and just taking it all in, and I got the chance to ride a water taxi to San Marco and see most of the sites. My roommates and I had a great lunch, shopped, and had time for gelato (which there is always room for). I would also suggest going to Venice for the glasswork and hand-made masks .
So many shops displayed some of the most creative and lovely work in both crafts, and Venice in general is a beautiful location. Until next time… Ciao.
Hello again DU blog readers and thanks for sticking with me another week as I continue my Italy adventure. I now have less than three full weeks left of my six week experience here in Florence. This past weekend I had the chance to branch out of my neck of the woods here in Firenze (Florence in Italian) and I spent Friday and and almost all of Saturday in Rome.
Some of my roommates and I left around 7:00 am on Friday to take a four hour train ride to Rome. The four hour trip was actually pleasant since we were all up so early we just napped on the train. We stayed in a lofted suite at a Best Western near the train station. The the hotel was nice and in a great location. On our first day there we were able to take a guided tour of the Vatican and got to see the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican museum. Then we took a walk to see the Trevi Fountain. I turned around ,tossed a coin in, and made a wish. For those of you who have seen the Lizzie Mcguire movie it was a totally Lizzie moment.
By day two, were able to to see the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, the Colosseum, and as a cool treat we went to a Babington Tea Room in Rome near the Spanish Steps. The Colosseum is so much more impressive in person that what you see in travel books or text books, and is a must see if you travel to Rome. I think one of my favorite spots turned out to be the Spanish Steps, I walked to the top of them and got to look down and see a excellent view of the city. Also having tea and a cupcake at the tea room was a added bonus. I really just made a dent in what there is to see in Rome and getting the chance to go back and see more is now one of my new goals in life. Classes continue to go well and I am working my way through all the museums I want to see on my museum pass and this Friday
I am going on another group trip to Siena. Until next time…Ciao