I go to medical school in Cuba. This is not novel or unique outside of the fact that I am from America. Cuba has a lot of doctors, a lot of medical schools (around 20 I think), and there are currently thousands of students from other countries studying medicine here. I simply happen to be one of them.
I’ve been here for about two and a half months now. I decided to start this blog because I think that information is usually a good thing. And because I now live in Cuba I can share about my experiences here. More specific reasons I am starting this blog include wanting to make people aware of the Latin American School of Medicine, to keep my friends and family updated on my happenings, and to stay connected to the world outside of Cuba. I’ll probably talk about all of these reasons in future posts, but I think that is sufficient for now.
Let me tell you about my school. Right now I’m sitting on the third floor of building 4, tower 2, looking out the window at the Straits of Florida. I’m about a football field away from the water. It is excellent, but the fear of hurricanes past is marked with the residue of tape on the windows. On my floor we are about 26 students living in 3 rooms of, give or take, 10 students per room. We share all of our space, and it works out well. With most students here from Latina America I am surrounded by Spanish, except for some Brazilians (Portuguese) who live on the floor above and a few of my roommates who know English. Being in Cuba, all of our classes are in Spanish.
The Cuban government provides us with everything we need to sustain and study. Food, clothes, books, toiletries, even a stipend paid monthly. Most services available on any college campus are available at the Latin American School of Medicine, they might just look very different. For example, we don’t have a multimillion dollar stadium, but we do have multiple sporting courts of all kinds and the freedom, as students, to make our own teams, leagues, practice schedules, and even fields (as some Caribbean students recently built a cricket pitch).
There are a couple of convenience stores on campus and more than a few food shops were we can buy snacks for a very reasonable price between meals and classes. Most student activities and student administration is run by the Student Junta, a group of a few elected students who manage our well being and respond to queries and concerns. There are lots of student groups on campus representing all types of organizations. To start a group you only need initiative. It is one of the most open campuses I have ever been on when it comes to student led programs.
Classes are about the same size variations that can be found in U.S. medical schools, even though at this campus we have many, many more students than a typical U.S. medical school. I particularly like how classroom space is used here. During the day there are classes in all rooms, all the time, and during the night the rooms are open to the students to study. The system here really minimizes wasted real estate (opposite my experience on U.S. campuses with lots of empty classrooms during the day). There remains lots to be said about our curriculum and student live, two subjects I plan to make recurrent topics in this blog.
I hope that this introduction might spur some interest and answer some questions about where I am. I’m going to try to address all of those who, what, where, why, and how questions with this blog while, hopefully, keeping in mind the reasons I started it. As I make more experiences here I hope the posts become a bit more personal and slightly more opinionated. The reader only needs to keep in mind that thousands of people go to school here and I’m just one of them.