Bella in Havana, Cuba

Close up of BellaHello! My name is Bella Berkley and I’m a junior studying Black Studies and LJST. I am taking the year to study in Havana, Cuba and can’t wait to share my second semester adventures with you!

I decided to study in Cuba because of its large Afro-Cuban population and its well-preserved archive of slavery related legal codes. I’m also excited to use my year abroad to increase my Spanish level and start doing research for my thesis. I have already made so many Cuban friends during my first semester with Spanish Studies Abroad and am looking forward to making more with my semester in the Brown Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA) program.

I love running, taking dance classes, playing soccer with Cuban teammates, and sitting on the malecón listening to music with friends. I hope my blog can give you a little taste of Havana through my eyes!

Bella’s Posts

  • My Return to Cuba

    My Return to Cuba

      Hello! Welcome to my first official post during my second semester in Havana, Cuba. I can’t believe how fast the first four weeks of the new semester went by! I was initially nervous to start another semester in Havana with a new program. How would I maintain old connections while also trying to fully integrate myself within a new group of people and new academic space? As the Brown CASA program is a lot more academically challenging than my …Continue Reading »
  • Experiences with Cuban Piropo Culture

    Experiences with Cuban Piropo Culture

    Wow, I can’t believe it’s already March; I feel like time has been slipping away since the start of the semester. I definitely feel more socially and academically acclimated than I did after my first post. The workload feels a lot more similar to Amherst, but perhaps more difficult since everything is in Spanish. A year ago, I would have never thought I would be able to read and write in Spanish like I am now! I’m excited that I …Continue Reading »
  • Exploring Identity Through the Cuban Market

    Exploring Identity Through the Cuban Market

    It’s weird to think that this is about the time that Amherst students have their spring break. I’m eagerly awaiting mine which comes in the middle of April; apparently we are going on a cross-country trip to Santiago de Cuba! Until then, I’ve been finding little ways to make my semester full of new experiences. Recently, I have taken to visiting different fruit and street markets in order to buy daily produce and household food staples, such as plantains, vegetables, …Continue Reading »
  • How to Be a Yuma

    How to Be a Yuma

    After nearly two semesters studying in Cuba, I’ve been fortunate enough to learn about and take part in many amazing aspects of Cuban culture. While two semesters is not nearly enough to fully understand a different space and context, it has given me a more detailed snapshot than I would have had otherwise. One of the most interesting experiences I’ve had this past academic year is having been able to observe the relationship between Cuban nationals and foreign tourists. As …Continue Reading »
  • Saying Goodbye and Redefining Home

    Saying Goodbye and Redefining Home

      As I enter my last two weeks of the semester, I feel a mix of emotions. Even though I’m sure I will still be processing this fact after I leave, I realized the other day that I have lived in Cuba for an entire academic year. That also means I have lived in one of the most restricted countries for U.S. citizens, and spent a year forming roots that might not be easily accessible in the future. Though I …Continue Reading »

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