This year’s January-Term trip to Cuba is a unique opportunity for students to learn and experience the very different lives of those living in the country. With a focus on political science and economics, the trip explores the differences in society between the United States and Cuba.

Exploring the differences in culture and social aspects of the country, students will have the opportunity to walk in the shoes of the many people that live in Cuba. With differences in regulations over almost all establishments such as restaurants, cleaning services, etc. students will learn about the laws and standards of the Cuban government.

Those attending will stay in “casa particulares” which are rooms rented out by homeowners, under government regulation.

Students will follow a set schedule for the term which includes classes, a trip to Havana to explore museums, meeting with artists and attending lectures given by Cuban professors. They will explore old towns and learn about the life of Cubans. They will also travel to a town called Viñuales which is the site of the majority of tobacco production.

On this trip students will be able to experience the variety of foods, culture, and occurrences that are unique to Cuba.

Even though there were potential issues due to the tense relationship held between USA and Cuba, URI is still planning on having the trip. Johnson has informed students at a meeting this week that they will not be in the areas where these instances occurred. She assured students that Cuba is a safer place to visit compared to a lot of other regions in the world.

“People get a very different experience that is very difficult to describe if you haven’t lived it,” Kristin Johnson, the organizer for the tip and a professor in the political science department said.

Nirali Patel, a student who went on the trip last year had a similar outlook on her experience in Cuba.

“I quickly learned that the country was flooded with propaganda, unique cuisines and rich heritage. It was a very different experience than anything I had seen in the US,” Patel said.

Johnson also explained that the trip became even more interesting as students became close due to their lack of technology. Since there is little to no service throughout the country, students got to experience everything first-hand, without the distractions of social media and outside communication.

“Students experience it in a way that those wouldn’t if paying attention to other things,” Johnson said.

This program allows the twenty students accepted into it a safe and unique experience unlike anything else. With recent happenings surrounding the United States and Cuban relations, the department does all it can to make this trip as safe and regulated as possible. Through a set schedule and government regulated excursions, students will experience many amazing sights and learn about the systems put in place to keep the country safe.

This trip will also be offered during the whole of the spring semester as another study abroad opportunity. Students will be able to take courses taught by University of Rhode Island professors as well as Cuban professors during this and will receive credits from URI without the need to transfer anything.

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Theresa Brown
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