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CIEE: Havana, Cuban Studies
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Cassandra Motyka

Liberal Arts Major(s): Spanish
Other Major: Security and Risk Analysis
Hometown: Northampton, Pennsylvania
Experience Time: Fall 2019

Give us a brief summary of your experience?

I had an amazing time exploring the country of Cuba and learning about the rich culture and traditions. I was able to explore new religions, music, and food throughout my time in Havana and across the country. The people I met, including my host family and professors, have left a lasting impression on me. I will always value the new relationships I formed. Ultimately, studying abroad in Cuba has given me the confidence and independence to explore.

How did this experience impact you academically?

This experience has altered my academic landscape by preparing me academically in ways that staying in the U.S. never could have. I was able to learn from dedicated Cuban professors about Cuban historical subjects, politics, and the arts. In addition to the real-world knowledge that I gained by taking classes at the University of Havana, I was able to vastly improve my Spanish capabilities. I am now confident and fluent in the Spanish language.

The people I met, including my host family and professors, have left a lasting impression on me. I will always value the new relationships I formed.

How will this experience impact your career goals?

My desire to work in the security world was fortified by my experience abroad and my language skills. I now have close to 4 months of experience in a developing country, where I was able to live like a local and understand the perspectives of Cubans. I am also able to understand the Cuban dialect and nuances. These areas of growth were awarded to me only by the opportunity of spending an entire semester abroad.

How has the College of the Liberal Arts helped you to find and/or succeed in this experience (e.g., adviser, faculty, staff, enrichment funds, etc.)?

The College of Liberal Arts and my Spanish professors have allowed me to take advantage of this opportunity. Through the encouragement of my Spanish professors and advisors, I felt confident in my decision to choose Cuba. Their words of wisdom about the importance of choosing a non-traditional country allowed me to take this step. Furthermore, through the use of enrichment funds I was able to participate in day-to-day activities in Cuba. Without the funds I would not have been able to explore the country and participate in amazing cultural experiences.

For more information on global opportunities for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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