Day 6 and 7

THE WEEKEND IS HERE!!!!!!

So since it is the weekend, students have some free time to travel and explore Havana. 

So what where the students upto?

On Saturday there was a trip to the los Jardines de Hershey. Yes, by Hershey we mean Chocolate Hershey. This trip was organised by ISSEM and students and alumni could take part in excursion.

Also on Saturday some students headed out to the Playa del Este. The ride to the beach is about 20 minutes by taxi and students carpooled together. After, some tanning and sipping on agua de coco Cuban students showed us what Havana’s hip night life is all about.

On Sunday, Cuban and German students all went to the beach again and had a nice chill beach day. 

In the evening the ISSEM office team had a wonderful dinner together.

Other students, also used the weekend to travel to towns nearby to Havana . For example Viñales, this is a small town located two hours away from Havana. It is known for its tobacco and cocoa plantations. The panoramic valley scene of the town,  resembles a person lying on his/her back. 

Day 4 and Day 5

Day 4

Classes have now been transferred to the hotel Habana Libre. The transition was smooth, and if students are still not sure where their classes are, check the  notice board at the first floor outside the ISSEM office at the Habana Libre. In general, the notice board is full of useful tips and suggestions and information. Students can also pin up their own recommendations and communicate through the board. 

In the evening students could participate in a movie night. The movie Strawberry and Chocolate( Fresca y Chocolate) was screened which is a film based on the short story by Senel Paz who also wrote the screenplay for the movie. The movie is set in Havana, and deals with different social phenomena.  After that students headed on out to the Malecon for a drink, and to enjoy the vast night life that Havana has to offer.

DAY 5

At 8:00 am a group of students headed out for a bike tour through Havana. I personally perticipated in this tour and i can only recommend it. It is a great way to get to know the city. You can also learn a lot about Havana. Our guide Yasser made the tour very enjoyable and taught us a lot about the city. The tour started with a ride through the lush and green Havana forrest, we then went to the 3rd biggest cemetry in the world that is based in Havana. From there we meandered through the colorful neighbourhoods of the old town, and lastly we biked down the Malecon. 

I will write a detailed piece about the bike tour soon. I can,however, only urge anyone that gets the opportunity, to take part in the bike tour. 

Our guide Yasser giving us some knowledge about the forrest of Havana.

The bike crew at the Plaza de la Revolucion.

In the evening there was a culture exchange, at Erich’s house. Erich is a German expatriate  that has lived in Cuba for the last 20 years, he is a Cuba expert in his own right. Students asked questions and talked to him in the comfort of his home. 

For now the ISSEM week has been going very well. It is Friday, and the music is blaring out of the lightly lit bars of Vedado. The streets are full of people that are dressed up, and ready to dance into the weekend. So lets see what this weekend holds for us…

Day 3- Salsa

Salsa! Yes the day had come for us to learn the “1-2-3.. 5-6-7… repeat,”. After a long day full of classes, learning some new moves seemed like the best way to let off some steam.

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After that we were all warmed up to spend some time listening to music and chatting at the Maine.

This time there was more of a blend of groups, Cuban and German students got more into conversation, and it was a nice breezy atmosphere at the Malecon.

Morning tunes in Havana 

In the morning the cars zoom through the streets, and cough up a dark cloud of smoke into the air. Like a heavy smoker with a good morning cough, life goes on and the colorful aged cars continue to wheeze in the streets, collecting school children in uniform, with slick gel backed hair.

In a park under the tree a group of people join in on a communal activity, more like a meditation to open their minds to a world beyond Cuba that is projected through a third external eye. 

The old strech themselves and greet the day with some Tai Chi, balancing out the Ying and Yang of the city. 

Amongst these daily scenes university students with name tags walk around their neck. We have casa’s here and families that take care of us. It may not be a family in the traditional sense as we pay them, but nonetheless we are living together. It is a little like a WG I suppose.

We have classes that we attend, and we have a routine now. I think that it is not such a bad thing that we had classses in the economic faculty,  as it gave us an insight into what daily lectures look like for Cuban students. Yes, it was very warm, however it was not only hot for some of us but for all of us. 

In 2 weeks one half will leave, and the other half will stay and go on with their daily life here in Cuba. However, i think that maybe we should not segregate ourselves during the course of the summer school, because we have so much in common, for one we are all summer school participants. Secondly, we all attend classes together. 

Therefore, maybe we should look beyond stereotypes that make us different and instead start to learn from our similarities. Think about what you want to to take personally with you once you are back home? What do you want to remember? The rusted taxis that practised price discrimination? The mistrust that everybody is after your money? That everybody wants to sleep with you? That everybody flirted with you? 

Or you can choose to to focus on the things that reminded you that there are places and people that have fears, dreams and rich histories just like you. That try to find a sense of fulfilment just like you? How they go about finding it could be different but it could also be inspiring.

The choice is up to you on what you choose to focus on.

Day 2- Daily update

Today the summer school was in full swing. Students bustled into classroms at the economic faculty of the University of Havana to attend their courses. 

The courses International Economic Integration** and Panel Data Econometrics also started today. Some classes were filled up and therefore it was quiet hot, however, there is no need to worry as of Wednesday the classes will be held in the cool new rooms of the Habana Libre. 

There was also a bike tour today. For those of you that missed to register for it, no worries you can always register for the second tour that will take place on friday. 

Today was also the official welcoming party for the alumni. I can only recommend students to come into contact with the alumni; they speak very good german and are always happy to share stories, talk and give tips. There are daily alumni functions taking place that students can also participate in. It is really worth it! There is a lot that can be learned from the older generation.

** For those of you who are very interested in the topics discussed. Check out Prof. Burda’s Youtube channel, where the complete course is available in English. 

Cold Feet

Bags are all packed, finally. and it all fit in!

I have had nightmares about packing for the last few days. I am just glad that it is over now!

So tomorrow at 12 i leave for Cuba, i am excited. A few days back i had cold feet about the whole thing. I mean yes at first you get the acceptance letter then you book your flight and get even more excited. However, the closer the date comes the more it starts to sink in. I am going to Cuba. I am going to Cuba. I-AM-GOING-TO-CUBA!!! suddenly i am no longer excited but scared, what if this happens? what if that happens etc etc. I went out to a cafe yesterday and sat myself down to have a small moment of peace. A woman was sitting beside me and was really digging into her sandwich. She had her laptop wide open and did not take her eyes off her screen.She was just reaching for a tomato on her sandwich, when i started talking to her. I dont know, there was something sympathetic about her, maybe the way she ate her sandwich, reminded me of myself.

I told her that i was starting to have cold feet,  going to Cuba and that i didnt really speak spanish…etc etc. She then went on to tell me that she moved to Berlin 2 weeks ago from Italy and that she does not speak a word of german. She told me that she was excited at first too, and that as the days dawned closer she was starting to get cold feet as well. She even recalled another similar incidence. So, what i am trying to say is that it is totally normal. Its ok to get cold feet, and there is no point in trying to act cool about it ( no pun intended).

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However, we are all going to Cuba as a group, and the ISSEM team is  also always there to support you. So there is nothing to be worried about. This will be a great experience! Dont stress about it all, even if you do not get to see everything on this trip. Be happy, because that means that you will have a reason to return sometime in the future to Cuba, and see the bits that you didnt see this time. 

So, see you all soon and till then have a safe trip and enjoy this experience and adventure!

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Cuban Music of the Future

I am the kind of person that listens to all kinds of music. Growing up my father told me all the stories of his time through songs and instruments of his generation. I believe strongly that music is something that can give people a feel for how things are or were in a certain place and time.

I made a playlist of the musicians that have to be “known”  in 2016, according to the Fader. I compiled a playlist, so that you guys are also in the know of what artists are hot and popping in Cuba. If you enjoy the music , give the artists a follow on Soundcloud and support them. This is the perfect playlist to listen to on your way to Cuba or just in the Ubahn.

My personal favorite on the list is the Dj and producer Wichy de Vedado and Dj Jigüe. Comment below who you found interesting , or who your favorite cuban musician is. Would love to hear from you.

Here is the link to the article by The Fader : http://www.thefader.com/2016/03/16/cuban-artists-you-need-to-know

 

Berlin are you ready for Havana?

Cuba Berlin mit logo.jpgSeptember is here! Only 19 more days to go till the summer school officially kicks off. Some of you may already be in Cuba and travelling, or are getting ready to leave for Cuba soon. For those that are already there, and are travelling it would be great to hear from you. What is it like? what are the coolest spots? share your pictures with #issem16 and let us now how you are doing.

For the Cuban students that are taking part in the summer school, let us know what you are looking foward to. We would love to hear from you.