I have been to Cuba 3 times now, for a total of 5 months. The first time, I studied abroad for the Spring 2009 semester in Cuba, at Casa de las Americas (español). I returned May-June 2012 and 2013 as a teaching assistant for Northeastern’s short-term faculty-led program on the subject of photography.
While there for a semester, I lived with 7 other students from Northeastern as well as 9 University of Michigan students. We called our beautiful penthouse in Vedado the Real World House, and it mostly lived up to its name. We went to classes tailor-made for us at Casa de las Americas. NU is one of the few universities in the United States that can legally send students to Cuba. While there, I went to Varadero, Viñales, Pinar del Rio, Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, and Matanzas.
As a TA on my most recent trips we lived in Havana, also in the Vedado neighborhood, and went to school at the Centro de Estudias Martíanos, which supports the preservation and discussion of Jose Martí’s work and legacy as a poet, political prisoner, dissident and freedom fighter. I lived with my students, helped them with translation and finding locations to shoot, advised them on technique and image content, and accompanied the group to Pinar del Río, Viñales, and Trinidad.
One of my compañeros from the Real World House has since grown an amazing organization called Cuba Skate. He started it in 2010, and it aims to bring skate supplies to Cuba, as well as build a skate park there and promote cultural exchange between Americans and Cubans. I am a proud supporter of Cuba Skate, and I suggest you contact Mi les y Lauren if you want to get involved!
The Globe’s The Big Picture did a Havana-centric entry. I lived in a (gorgeous) apartment overlooking the Malecón, which is shown several times.