Internet in Cuba

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Internet, yes it does exist in Cuba! It may not be as fast as you are used to, but patience is key! All the internet spots are usually located in parks so you can always turn over, and have a chat with your neighbor while your page loads up.

I had my doubts starting a blog in Cuba, but in truth it actually went quiet well and i am glad that it all worked out for the best.

When accessing WIFI you have two choices:

1.Many hotels have internet connection. The Habana Libre hotel does too. However this is a very pricy option as one hour of browsing costs 5 CUC ( at the Habana Libre), and is not necessarily faster then the internet that you can access in the park.

2. ETECSA internet cards. These are recharge cards that you can buy for 2 CUC per hour. You can either buy a 1 hour card  or a 5 hour card. Once you have a card you can use Internet in the various hotspot parks that are spread out across Cuba.  Cards are available at official ETECSA outlets ( make sure to go with your passport when buying a card), or you can buy it around hotspot parks from people who are selling cards for 3 CUC per hour. Usually you will need to ask someone, if he knows who is selling the cards at the park. Or the seller may just approach you when you are at the hotspot.

Some students during the summer school were actually happy about the lack of internet. To them this was more of a internet detox.

Internet in Cuba is seen more of a meditation( as you can see a woman meditating on the recharge card), in the western world disconnecting is seen as meditating and connecting with the inner and outer realness and beauty that is all around us.

However, the Internet card image of a woman meditating and connecting to the world could also just mean that you need to practice gratitude and patience with the speed of the internet, and to keep the mantra inner peace while clicking that reload button over and over again.

http://deutsch.havanamyway.com/wifi-hotspots-karte-havanna/– here they have a map with all the ETECSA hotspots in Havana.

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Day 13 & 14

This may be the last weekend for many of us in Havana. After the great closing party, some of us went to the beach and enjoyed the sands and waves one more time.

There have been Hurricane warnings. As the ferocious stage 4 Hurricane Matthew is rocking the Carribeans. However, the Hurricane will not hit Havana. It will pass through East Cuba on Sunday till around Tuesday. People in Santiago and prisoners in Guantanmo have already been evacuated according to news reports. Due to the Hurricane, it has been raining at night and its been a bit more cloudy and cooler in the city, and some lightening, has been blitzing through the sky.
Check out (for information): http://www.cubahurricanes.org/

On Saturday night the ISSEM also hosted the official closing ceremony for the alumni’s at the Gran Teatro. It was a nice event with live music and a three course meal. The alumni danced and sang along to the music and recalled the last two weeks. Kisses and hugs were passed and everybody was happy and hoped to see us all again next year. Emails were exchanged and friendships had been formed.

On Sunday most students were busy studying in the lobby of the Havana Libre. The reality of exams that are a day away was sinking in.

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Good Luck to all of you on your exams!

Day 12

The ICEM conference.

The  ICEM conference was held today. This is a very important day for the cuban alumni. Here talks and lectures, on topics such as logistic, applied mathematics and information systems were presented by alumni and professors. 

Incubator demo day

Simultaneously, the incubator had its demo day. The incubator is a co-operation between the Humboldt University Berlin and the University of Havana, its an entrepreneurial exchange of mentoring, know how and technology. The incubator is located on the 12 floor, in the economics faculty of the University Havana. Students and professors from all fields of the university of Havana can go and present their Entrepreneurial venture ideas here. Once they have done this the incubator helps them draw up a business plan and mentors them on how to go about realising their business. 
This year the incubator presented itself, and 4 groups pitched their business ideas to cuban political officials and potential investors.

It was a very emotional day as the cuban students of the incubator had worked very hard all year round for this day.

The course panel data posing for a last group photo.

In the evening there was the closing event of the ISSEM. It was held at the beautiful venue Casa de Amistad. Pictures were projected and stories of the last week were recalled. Students and professors talked about their time here in Cuba. Reflections and retrospectives were recalled. 
After that everybody headed to the Malecon, one last time. Professor Burda stringed some tunes on a guitar. Everybody sang along and the atmosphere was very warm and friendly. People were hugging eachother, and I could tell that friendships had been made that will last for many years to come.

“We all live on a yellow submarine…”

Day 11

The summer school is slowly coming to an end. Students were seen all over the hotel Habana Libre, forming small study groups and revising together. 

Today there were no social events and students could spend the night studying, or could explore the city.

Day 08

The second week of the summer school, brings with it some new courses. Such as Accounting, Design Thinking and Marketing. 

The design thinking team busy at work, preparing for the next class.

In the evening students where given the opportunity to use the reserved rooms in the Havana Libre Hotel to have some guided study time. In this period students where able to go over any material that they did not understand, and to review the things that they did last week.

There was also a Cuban spanish class which was taught by a fellow alumni.

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 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. 

Day 1 – Daily Update

​At 9am today, students, professors and alumni all gathered in the beautiful Aula Magna in the main building of the University of Havana, to officially open the ISSEM 2016. 

It was a very exciting morning as Cuban and German students and professors walked up the historic stairs of the University of Havana, to officially start off the 2 weeks of the 14th summer school. There was a great amount of chatter and most students had already sweated through their formal attire even before the opening ceremony had commenced. 

The event was opened by Prof. Michael Burda from Humboldt University who gave a opening speech, followed by a official welcoming by the dean of the faculty of economics of the University  of Havana Prof. Dr Silvia Odriozola. “The summer school is not just about studying, there is a great amount of social activities as well that should be utilised as they give German and Cuban students an opportunity to share cultures and socialise and make lasting friendships” said Prof.Dr. Odriozola. 

Her speech was then followed by a very moving accustic guitar performance. Then the traditional participants’ photograph that was taken on the steps of the university and the summer school officially kicked off. Classes were held in the economic faculty. 

19:30– With the day coming to a close, students and professors all met at the entrance of the main building, and then headed on to the Malcon to toast, and drink to the beginning of the summer school.