Arrival – Lizzie Beale

Lizzie Beale

I’m a sophomore from Montgomery, Alabama. I’m double majoring in Environmental Science (through New College) and Spanish, with a minor in Blount Undergraduate Initiative.

My goal for the semester is to let go of my own cultural and personal boundaries and become truly immersed in this culture. Of course, I want to learn as much Spanish as possible by conversing with taxi drivers, hotel staff, market vendors, and our professors. I think my biggest challenge will be Cuban/U.S. relations course, so my goal is to stay ahead of the readings and really invest in understanding the two countries’ relationship from a Cuban perspective. I’m eager to start my personal research project, Cuban food safety, begin interviewing farmers, and delve into the island’s relationship with food.

Classes started on Monday, and we’re getting into the routine of life in La Habana. It’s a very slow-paced, simple routine but not at all void of surprises. Some days, for instance, I get a seat on the P-1 bus to the university, and some days the door won’t shut because I am literally hanging out of it. Our motto of the trip is: “estamos en Cuba”  (shrug shoulders and raise eyebrows). It means “we’re in Cuba,” and is a perfect testimonial to the amount of bizarre things that occur every day. We now have our watches set to “Cuban Time” which is a flexible version of chronological time, but more reflective of an attitude one must possess when dealing with things that don’t go according to plan. It is a 1950’s time bubble like I had been told, but not solely because of the old cars and limited resources. It’s a very in-the-moment culture, perhaps like the world was before the internet. The people are as colorful as the blooming flowers and the bright buildings lining the street, and are happy to tell us about their city – the city they have never left.