Letters from Students

Pre-Med Student, Class of 2022

I wish you all a blessed Holiday Season.  I miss everyone back home but we´ll be back soon enough.  I would like to take the time out to give you guys an update of my progress here at ELAM.

For starters, the food is not that bad!  In fact, I enjoy the “comedor” rice and beans, they are pretty good when we get a batch of beans that has more
beans than water.  And you were right, the options off campus are affordable, diverse, and caterable to our eating habits.  I have enjoyed trying all of the different restaurants and comida spots around the city.

Class is going great!  Right now I am in prepatorio learning Spanish and I have learned alot in a very short amount of time.  It is amazing how much they manage to teach us.  We took our first examination earlier in the week, I received a 5 on the oral part and we will receive the written exam grades later this week.  But I am confident that I scored well on that part as well.

Our living situation is the toughest part of this experience for me thus far, for the simple fact that I am a light sleeper who prefers to sleep early.  That is a bad combination when you room with guys who like to stay up all night listening to music, talking, or playing video games.  I struggle to get 6 hours of sleep at night which I really dont like.  However, I try to nap as much as possible to offset this issue.  Outside of bedtime problems, I love my roommates.  They are a diverse cast from all over Africa.  We have guys from Niger, Lesotho, Swaziland, Ethiopia, and the Comorros Islands (which I had never heard of before now).  Also,
there is a guy from the Bahamas and another from Mongolia.  There are Muslims, Christians, and a Buddhist as well in our room.  How is that for diversity?  To top it off, French, Hausa, Mongolian, Patois, and Amharic can be heard at any given time in our room, in addition to English and Spanish.  In fact, I am trying my best to learn Hausa from my Nigerian roommates.  This diversity and plurality is one aspect of the program that I was truly looking forward to, so its great to see it manifest so early in my time here.

Last weekend, Sol, Juan, Alexandra, and I participated in the Havana Marathon which was a hell of an experience.  I had never run a distance race before in my life so I opted to run the half-marathon.  It was a grueling race, it took everything in me to keep running and the closer I got to the finish line, the more my body would ache and feel like it would break down on me.  But I finished, glory to God, and my time was decent.  I ran 13 miles in 1 hour and 57 min.  Hopefully, next year I will be ready for the full marathon.

All in all, we have done alot and seen alot here in Cuba. We have been meeting with Allende students regularly, and a few of us have also been going to guardias at Allende on a regular basis.  We have visited the provinces of Pinar del Rio and Matanzas, with plans for one more before the break.  I have been to the National Ballet, Parque Lenin, the Botanical Garden, and Varadero.  I am looking forward to everything that lies ahead, I know our time here has only just begun and Cuba has much more to offer.  Next week is Thanksgiving, Cuban style!

Thank you for preparing us so well for life in Cuba, your guidance has really helped to ease this process for me, I appreciate it greatly.

With Warm Regards,
Gregory McNealy

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