It rained in Havana last week, and it felt a lot like home. To me, the Pacific Northwest, specifically Seattle, has always been a comfortable and familiar place. I was describing it to another American student a while ago, and dark coffee, gray days, and moody music came to mind immediately. As much as this may be true, I also know that home is where my loved ones reside, and where my loved ones are, my heart is also. Slowly, Havana is starting to become more and more like home—different in some obvious ways, but also familiar with time. I look forward to coming back to the house, where I struggle getting the front gate open occasionally, and can count on at least one family member to greet me when I arrive. Dinner is served around 6:30-7pm every night, and my roommate and I are treated extremely well. Sometimes, we get the privilege to sit down with our Cuban family, our host dad at my right, at the head of the table. Though simple to some, this time is one of my favorite moments of the day, as bowls and plates of food are passed around as quickly as the jokes and teasing. Growing up in the States, my own family was very small, and the nature of our dinner conversation was quite dull compared to what I experience here.
This is now the third full week of classes at the university, and I’m finally beginning to settle into a rhythm. Unfortunately, I have an 8:00am class every day except for Thursday mornings. On the bright side, I’m able to end earlier, with more hours in the afternoon to explore and rest. I am officially taking four classes. Though I have been learning Spanish for seven years now, my Cuban professor is a good reminder of the fact that my grammar could always be improved immensely. Ironically, the professor of my Marxist-Leninist theory class is also named Marx-Lenin… I’m not sure how to explain this one to those of you reading, but nonetheless, it is what it is. Even though I feel frustrated in the classroom sitting among intelligent, well-learned Cuban students whose accents are extremely difficult to understand, I am also trying to be patient, and know that in a few weeks’ time, it will be better.
Cuba continues to surprise me, in ways that I could never have anticipated. There is something both whimsical and antique about the island itself, where history seems to be stuck in a certain period, yet the timeline of humankind continues. I am grateful for the moments of self-discovery that reveal themselves unexpectedly, for the challenges that seem trivial in light of my American privilege. I anticipate that these will only increase in number as the semester goes on.
As with all things, there are seasons. I trust that this one is good, and will be for my good.