I initially found out about this study abroad program through a class I was taking in the College of Public Health. I had no previous intentions of visiting Cuba, especially for a study abroad program. Upon recently being accepted to University of South Florida, I have been exposed to various cultures now more than ever. Because of this, I developed a unique love and curiosity towards Latin culture. Therefore, I was excited to find out Public Health would be offering a class abroad in Cuba.
As a public health student, I am currently pursuing a career as a Physician Assistant. So, how could I miss out on an opportunity to learn about public health and the medical field within a region outside of the U.S.? This felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, especially considering the previous problems between Cuba and the states. I had the opportunity to speak to Cuban doctors and visit clinics, which operated in a different way than what I have been taught in America. When learning this information, I was also able to apply it to Public Health issues in relation to doctor visits. Cuban culture comes with drinking, smoking, and eating large portions of nutrient dense foods. We were able to here first hand about how the community doctors were pushing towards educating the communities about health risks in relation to their cultural habits.
I was looking forward to experiencing Cuban culture, eating traditional dishes, and looking at all the old-fashioned cars driving around the island. I was able to immerse myself in the culture while abroad and learn about differences between American culture and Cuban culture. I became familiar with the Spanish language and was able to communicate with the locals. I also got to bond with out homestay families over a delicious dinner over a period of two weeks. They had the opportunity to tell us about their lives in Cuba and the way of life as a Cuban, such as, work, grocery shopping/ration cards, income, etc.