What The Students Said

Here are the student comments we have received so far.

Thank you All for your contributions!


  • A crazy, vibrant city full of incredibly welcoming and curious people and a brilliant place to learn about its deeply enriched political history and culture. (Lola)
  • “Vive hoy porque el mañana no existe.” “¿​Por qué sufrir el dolor? ¿​Por qué llorar en silencio? Hay que vivir la vida.” (Paola)
  • Being in Cuba was fantastic, the cultural and sensory experiences we had are priceless. Thanks to SECL for making it possible. (Phoebe)
  • You should put in a pun about Havana good time or something. I find it really hard to sum up the experience as i know you’ll understand, it was simply incredible. (Phoebe)
  • An amazing opportunity to meet new people, and share an incredible experience with them. Cuban culture and politics can only really be brought to life in person – this term’s classes are going to be great! (Anna)
  • Cuba’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get! (James)
  • I didn’t so much discover it but going to Cuba really proved it to be true and that was how passionate Latin Americans are. I believe it was you who said it when we were walking along the Malecón and that was how when the government takes everything from you, your freedom to think, your freedom to express yourself through democracy and so on, the only thing you’re left with to define yourself is your passion. Of course this isn’t unique to Cuba or even Latin America but given the regime and situation in Cuba it made this more acute and I was really aware of this concept for the first time. In terms of exploring further, I’d love to explore the cultural revolution that is taking place in Cuba, and has been really since 1959. Having focused so heavily on writers like Cabrera Infante, Pinera and Lezama Lima, I’ve found myself ignorant of the new generation of Cuban writers. Writers who have lived and written in and about Cuba throughout the revolution, unlike Cabrera Infante, who latterly wrote about Cuba from the removed position of exile. Going to Havana was like having a veil lifted and in front of me was this culture that was so strong, a culture I was lead to believe (Thanks to Cabrera Infante in no small part) didn’t really exist or wasn’t worth much. (James)
  • In Cuba, you’re never too far from rum and sun. (Ana)
  • La Habana, ‘a new world’ that I was privileged to step into and learn about a culture so different yet so similar to my own. The tranquility and the vibrancy of the culture has inspired me to embark on more adventures in the future. (Nilo)
  • You can learn a lot in a lecture about the culture of a country, but travelling to Cuba has given me the chance to fully understand the culture and its people. That’s what learning is really about! (Ana)
  • It wasn’t until we reached the touristic centre of Havana a few days into the trip, with it’s grand hotels, brightly painted and restored buildings and even a number of designer shops that it occurred to me that we were given the unique opportunity to discover the REAL Cuba behind the tourist façade!(Dean)
  • Cuba was my first taste of Latin America, full of colour, sounds, smells and incredibly welcoming people. This is a part of the world that I have dreamed of visiting for a long time and the experience has without a doubt built on my desire to explore more former Spanish colonies. (Kate)
  • An amazing experience and opportunity, Cuba was full of surprises and fascinating people who I will never forget. (Lucy)
  • L. Stevenson once said “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move”. In life the best thing is to travel as you get in touch with people that live under different circumstances than you. You get to learn from the culture and the music that define that country you visit. Cuba was for me a mystery and I am really happy to have had the chance to discover it. The music and the dances are what made me enjoy the lifestyle of the inhabitants of La Havana. Streets full of colours, rumba played in markets, tourist shops with owners playing maracas while singing one of the many beautiful songs by Buena Vista Social Club. Thank you as this opportunity made me wiser, thank you as I now dream to travel more and certainly I will one day come back to this simple but yet distinct city. (Alessandra)
  • “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Ernest Hemingway. (Alessandra)
  • It was my dream to come to Cuba and it is now a dream to come back and dance some more. (Alessandra)


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SECL Study Trip to Havana, 8-16th January 2015

Following a successful bid to the Faculty of Humanities Internationalisation Fund and to SECL, Dr Montserrat Roser i Puig and Dr William Rowlandson were able to take a group of 18 students from Hispanic Studies on a subsidised study trip to Havana, Cuba.

The trip allowed the students to explore first-hand the rich and lively culture of Havana, to immerse themselves in its language, history, architecture, music, cars, noise, food, and rum. In this way it satisfied the aims, learning outcomes and transferable skills indicated in the Hispanic Studies Programme Specification, and provided direct practical experience of material studied in a number of Hispanic Studies modules (LS313, LS555, LS554 and LS580).

The schedule was full, whilst allowing plenty of time for individual activities such as wandering through the streets of Old Havana, strolling along El Malecón (the sea wall), attending musical functions, or sampling local food and drink. Highlights of the group activities included an evening’s dinner and salsa dancing at the old colonial mansion Palacio de la Artesanía, a live rumba performance at Callejón Hamel, a tour of the Habana Club rum factory, a day’s outing with poet Ernesto Canteli, a contemporary art exhibition in the Pabellón de Cuba, an evening discussion with journalist and activist Jorge Enrique Rodríguez, and a noisy bus ride to the beach at Guanabo. We also visited both the Museo de la Revolución and the Museo de los Orishas, where Afro-Catholic religious syncretism became an enriching and mind-broadening experience for us all. Of particular interest was the group visit to Casa de las Américas to meet celebrated poet Nancy Morejón, who spoke to the group with great passion, discussing, amongst other issues, the importance of their visit to Havana, and read a number of her poems.

The trip was a great success, and has indisputably been of great benefit to all those who went. Many contacts in Havana have been established or consolidated, and those whom we met in Cuba – from hotel staff to cultural figures like Nancy Morejón or Ernesto Canteli – commented on the good nature, kindliness and manners of the group. All who participated in the trip would like to thank the Faculty and SECL for the generous financial assistance and the Kent branch of the NUS for the loan of their minibus. We hope to be able to organise another similar trip at some stage in the next few years.


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William’s pictures

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Montserrat’s Pictures

Hi All!

I have uploaded all my pictures in the media section of the blog. I hope that you like them!


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Recent developments in the news

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Welcome to our discussion space

Dear All,

Following the meeting this afternoon, I have just added your names to the list of contributors.

We are hoping to have discussions on the forthcoming trip, so that we can keep in touch over the first part of the Xtmas break.

Pease use this space to write about anything that you have found out about the city, the trip, Cuba in general, etc.  Things practical as well as interesting, exciting or even puzzling are welcome.

More information, links and pictures to be posted shortly.

Bye for now,


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