First Impressions – Zack Wepfer

I knew Cuba was close but I didn’t realize how close until our flight from Miami to Havana took about 40 minutes. Over the past few days we have already gotten to tour much of Havana and in my opinion, the city is extremely beautiful. Even though buildings are in desperate need of repair, it is still easy to see their original appearance and many of these buildings, houses, churches, etc. are absolutely amazing. One of the differences between the US and Cuba is with the advertising. There is no advertising for businesses on billboards in Cuba; the advertising that is seen is political. One such sign spoke about how Cuba is a country that lives in the past and the present and that is easy to understand after simply flying into the country. However what has struck me the most so far about this country has been the people. In the states, many people naturally segregate themselves: on the bus, in the cafeteria, in Church, etc. So far in Cuba, there is no or very little segregation. Everyone talks to everyone and everyone helps out. According to some, public transportation in comparison to other places is a nightmare. Personally, I think it’s brilliant. Busses don’t have limitations to the number of people that can get on, if they fit, they fit (it may not be particularly safe, but they make it work and I have yet to witness any sort of vehicle accident). Taxis work pretty similarly to other places, but there are special taxis called “maquinas”, that are all really old cars, that run in certain routes all day. Also, many men and women will stand by the street and get a ride, like a hitch hiker. This appears to be very common and safe. It seems that everyone kind of accepts that they are all in the same boat, and they have to make do with what they can, and they are very quick to help a neighbor. Cubans love to talk, and seem to be some of the friendliest people in the world. I’m very excited to be here for a study abroad!