Tag Archives: Spanish

Perspective

Reasons I’m suddenly happier about Cuba:

Going home doesn’t seem so far away. A weird paradox, but knowing it’s soon frees up some mental space to stop stressing and start enjoying

We went to Santiago. For one thing, I love that city.  Another is that we got a change of pace, making Havana seem fresher, and my time there more precious, in addition to giving me an entire new perspective on Cuba

I emailed Ilham. She was a faculty leader on the egypt Dialogue, and she’s on of my personal rock stars.  All throughout Egypt we had to keep journals for reflection, and I was very conscious that Ilham was reading it, at times almost treating it like a conversation with her and expecting her to react the next day about something I had written the night before.  Something about writing her a conversation for real was comforting, and reminded me of the person I’m trying to be, both personally and academically.

Our Group. The people I’m with includes Michigan and NU students, house staff, Casa staff.  I’ve noticed that the whole group is a lot more zen lately, especially about interpersonal relations.  I’ve seen people cutting each other slack where they wouldn’t before, and spending time with people they hadn’t before.  The relaxed attitude makes our house so much more pleasant to live in.  It fills it up with boisterous, friendly chaos, instead of jarring, staccato coldness.


I watched some American TV.
Dumb, I know, but it helped.  It was also fun to just be American kids for a little while.  We could’ve been anywhere at home, lounging on a couch, eating (fake) pringles and watching television in English.

Food. Aliesha’s mom sent a giant box of goodies, and Kristina’s mom brought some homemade cookies and pancake mix.  We also got great, filling breakfasts in Santiago, and decently priced, delicious food for lunch and dinner.  That was probably one of the only times I’ve felt truly satisfied with a meal her.  To boot, there aren’t as many shortages right now on staples like bread or eggs.

Home is a wee bit more organized. I know when my flight leaves for France, and when I come home from Benin.  I can go to Andrew’s graduation (after missing so many important events in his life this past year) and I can go to BMG’s first communion.  The first thing she asked was whether I would be there, and I hated that I didn’t know and wasn’t really in control of the answer.  Cuba has made me really laid back (in some ways), but I feel calm knowing I won’t let Miss Bridget down.

It’s amazing how much your perspective can change by seeing your world through someone else’s lens.  It felt good to have someone well-traveled recognize that Cuba is indeed strange.  We’re not imagining it, this really is hard, and it really is different from going to Australia.  I also loved realizing that what comes to mind about Cuba for me is all the good stuff, and I see all the bad stuff in a good light.  Things that other people found strange, stressful or scary rolled off my back with a laugh.  Someone said that we’re a funny group, but I countered that no, it’s just Cuba that’s funny.

I really do believe it.

¿Por Que?

I realize that the previous post adressing this topic never fully answered the question, but it was also a finished piece of writing. 

So here, in list form, are the reasons I’m going to Cuba:

  1. Practicar mi español.  I’m not worried about ever losing my French, and while I do worry about my Arabic, I have plans for that too.  NU can’t offer me competetive language courses in Boston, so elsewhere I shall go. 
  2. Economics.  There aren’t enough bleeding hearts in economics because classical economics is for assholes.  Sorry, but it’s true.  I will not be deterred, because I think Muhammad Yunus is a rockstar and that economics could be the key to eleveating many of the worlds problems.  That’s the connection between me and economics.  Do I need to make the connection between economics and Cuba?  No?  Good. 
  3. I need something to write about.  Yes, my self esteem is way too closely tied to this blog, but that’s not what I mean.  If you read what I had to say about Cuba being illegal as well as why I write this blog, this is a direction I want my life to go in.  I care about educating people and I think this is my best shot at it.  I have the priviledge to go to school where I do, travel to unusual places and posess the language skills to communicate with the local population.  It is my duty to pass on whatever I can from those experiences. 

Finally, there’s the biggie that I keep finding myself saying: I can’t say no.  If you had this opportunity, would you turn it down? 

That’s not rhetorical. 

Have you ever had the opportunity to travel somewhere (or do anything, reall) that you turned down?  I’ve had a couple, which I’ll talk about later, but I’d love to hear from you guys.

Coming Out Party

I’m going to Cuba.  For a semester.  Starting pretty much right after New Year’s.

Surprise!

Sorry I’ve kept this way on the dl, for reasons both personal and logical.  I didn’t know if I would be allowed to apply, I didn’t know if I would get accepted, and I didn’t know if the trip would actually happen.

Even more surprising, is that this idea has been around for a while.  A little more than a year ago I mentioned it casually to my dad, who I assumed would shoot it down.  I should have known better.  As much as dad is always getting all worked up and worried that I’ll get myself into some sort of trouble with my curious, opinionated rabble-rousing ways, I know that we’re basically the same person.  Which means that he wishes he could go to Cuba too.

Since then, the idea was in the back of my mind.  After Egypt I knew I wouldn’t be staying in this country long, but due to co-op I would have to stay at least six months.  I casually mentioned the idea to a few friends as a “someday” possibility at the end of the summer, but then I let it drop.

One Thursday, I panicked and thought the deadline for Cuba was closer than it turned out to be.  At the idea of not being able to go, I suddenly realized the myriad reasons why I absolutely NEED to go.  By that Tuesday I had applied.

Since then it’s been my bizarro little secret, with only Sarah, Alex, Marisa and my immediate family in the loop.  I saw no reason to get everyone all worked up if I didn’t get in.  But now I’m going.  So there!

I feel like this is a press conference.  But given the last sentence of the previous paragraph, a press conference for a toddler.

I want this blog to be a lot more interactive.  I love travel, politics, language and culture, but I also love education.  I love educating myself and I love the act of spreading knowledge, which is a big part of why I started this blog.  Many of you will never go to Cuba or Egypt, or any third (or second!) world country.  But I will.  So much of what we hear about these places is misunderstood, over-simplified or flat-out false.

So live vicariously through me.  Leave comments with your questions.  Do you think I’ll be safe?  Do you think I’ll be able to send/receive mail?  Do you think people will hate us there?  Do you think people will speak English?  I want your impressions of Cuba.  Does it make you think of Scarface and cigars, or Hunter S. Thompson and rum?

I promise to answer the questions, especially the safety one.  I already know answers to some of them (especially the safety one!) but I would love to hear your impressions of Cuba, whether they’re based on books and movies or our President and the news.