Pitt in Cuba

This program is on pause for 2022 but is expected to return in summer 2023.

Havana is a city of contradictions: the smell of sea spray mixed with Caribbean food, 50's-era cars sharing the road with Mercedes, gray concrete buildings sharing walls with pastel facades.  Go beyond tourism and spend six weeks living and learning in the capital of Cuba, the only country in the Americas that has had a continous communist government for more than 50 years.  Each day in Cuba brings a new experience, a new opportunity to learn, and new questions to answer.

Designed for students who have taken at least four semesters of college-level Spanish, this program begins with a two-week immersive language course builds upon the Spanish skills that you already have and prepares you to take courses in Cuban history and culture and Cuban film. The program is hosted by the University of Havana, located in the bustling Vedado neighborhood of the city.  With comfortable housing that is a short walk from the University, the Malecon, and dozens of restaurants, you'll be perfectly situated to take advantage of all that Cuba's capital has to offer. 

What You'll Accomplish: 

As an engaged and active participant in this program, you will have the opportunity to develop:

  • reading, writing, and speaking skills in Spanish, specifically in an academic setting.
  • the ability to adapt and thrive while facing the challenges presented by life in Cuba.
  • a deeper understanding of the role that history and culture play in the development of a nation.

As the cultural, economic, and political capital of Cuba, La Habana is a dynamic city that will never cease to amaze you.  Founded in 1509, it is rich with history of the founding of the New World by Spanish conquistadores and the hope for creating a gleaming civilization.  You will experience Cuban culture through music, food, dancing, baseball, and nightly strolls along the Malecon.  Havana is a popular tourist destination (for non-US citizens, of course) with plenty to take in during your time abroad. While in Havana, you'll stay and study in the Vedado neighborhood which has grown around the University of Havana.  Within walking distance you will find plenty to do, including the Malecon, Hotel President, Hotel Habana Libre, restaurants, and more.
Summer's in Havana are characterized by high temperatures and high humidity that are made tolerable by sea breezes and afternoon thunderstorms.  In recent months, the economic situation in Cuba has deteriorated which has led to scarcity of some food items.  As a visitor to the island, you will likely be unaffected by these changes, but need to be aware of them nonetheless. 

Where You'll Live: 

El Costillar de Rocinante (also known as the Journalist Hotel, El Hotelito, and many other names) is your home for the program. Located just 10 minutes on foot from La Universidad de Habana and 15 minutes from the Malecón, El Costillar de Rocinante is a comortable and typical Cuban residence.  A large dining room  with a spacious and cool lobby opens onto a wrap-around veranda.  Enjoy the Cuban breeze as you work on school work, relax with friends, or chat with other guests at the hotel. El Costillar is no Hilton but is a safe and comfortable place to stay in Havana. El Costillar de Rocinante is a part of the José Martí Institute for International Journalism and, as such, serves as a residence for journalists and scholars throughout Latin America.  As the only group of Americans at the hotel, you'll have the opportunity to practice your Spanish and meet people from across Latin America.
You can expect the following at the residencia:

  • Double or triple rooms with a shared bathroom
  • Air conditioning (which may be limited during certain hours of the day)
  • Sheets, blankets, towels, and washcloths
  • Breakfast included each day (no kitcen access for students)
  • Pay-per-hour wifi (approximately $1.50 / hour)
  • 10 - 15 minute walk to the University of Havana classrooms
What You'll Study: 

You'll earn a total of 9 credits on the Pitt in Cuba program, all of which are upper-level Spanish courses that count towards majors and minors.  Everyone who participates on the program will take the same courses, which are taught on the University of Havana campus by faculty from Spanish as a Second Language, Anthropology, and Film. 
The courses on the program are taught entirely in Spanish and you should prepared to use no English in the classroom.  
Information about how the courses on this program count towards general education requirements for different schools and campuses can be found here.

Patrimonio de Cuba (SPAN1417)

Cuba is a country rich in both history and culture.  From the "discovery" of the New World to the Castro government, there is much to learn about this Caribbean country. This course will likely include multiple fieldtrips to different parts of the city that help highlight Cuba's diverse past and present. 

Cuban Cinema (SPAN1421)
Intensive Spanish Language (SPAN1306)

Pitt in Cuba is offered in partnernship with the University of Havana.  While in Cuba, you will be accompanied by a graduate student or faculty member from the University of Pittsburgh who will be your resource for day-to-day support, help with language and culture questions, and a friendly (and English-speaking) face from Pittsburgh.  You'll also have the support of Dr. Anita Sanz, faculty from the University of Havana, and the staff of the residencia.

Your Pitt Study Abroad Contacts: 

Gisselle Arce

Oí pessoal! I am Gisselle Arce, a Program Manager at the Pitt Global Experiences Office. While in undergrad, I studied abroad in Seville, Spain. This began my career path in international education without knowing. Shortly after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey with a degree in International Studies - Latin America and a minor in Human Rights & Genocide studies I worked in Chile as an Assistant English Teacher. After months of picking up my Chilean dialect, I came back to the US and attended graduate school at Middlebury Institute of International Studies. During my graduate studies, I found myself returning to Spain once again for my graduate internship. Now I find myself managing not only Pitt in Spain but many other programs. When I am not at work, I enjoy cooking, kickboxing, freshening up on my Portuguese, and spending time with my dog. Feel free to set up an appointment with me via Pathways. 

Schedule an appointment

Schedule an appointment with me using Pathways!

  • Click my personal Pathways link here
  • Login to Pathways with your Pitt username and password
  • Select Find Available Time
  • Select the time you want to meet
  • Review the appointment and click the schedule button
  • You will see a graphic that confirms that you have made an appointment with me & receive a confirmation in your Pitt email 

Don't see a time that works for you? Just send me an email at globalexperiences@pitt.edu!

Your In-Country Contacts: 

Dr. Anita Sanz

Dr. Anita Sanz is a Professor of Biology at the University of Havana and has been working with Pitt students studying abroad in Cuba since 2008.  As the Pitt contact in Havana, Anita will help you get settled in to your residence and accompany you on most of your excursions.  Anita will also serve as a resource for questions of culture, language, and general life in Cuba!

Brenda Sólkez

Originally from Ignacio Allende, Durango, México, Brenda Sólkez graduated with a B.A. and a M.A. in Hispanic Literatures from the University of Houston. Currently, she is a third year PhD student in the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures in the University of Pittsburgh. 


Items Billed by Pitt

  In-State Out-of-State
Tuition $4656 $4856
Program Fee $1543 $1543
Study Abroad Fee $300 $300
Total Billed by Pitt $6,499 $6,699

Estimated Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs

Meals and Personal Expenses $500 - $1,000
Travel to Pittsburgh Varies

Total Estimated Program Cost

  In-State Out-of-State

Total Estimated Cost of Program
(Includes items billed by Pitt and additional expenses)

$7,595 - $9,595 $7,795 - $9,795
The amounts above are for the 2019-2020 academic year and should be used as estimates only. Pricing for 2020-2021 will be posted and announced in the fall term.
What's Included: 

As a part of your Pitt in Cuba fee, the following are included in the program:

  • Tuition for 9 credits
  • Housing in a double room
  • Breakfast and dinner at the hotel
  • Airfare from Domestic Departure City to Havana (approximately $800 value)
  • Airport Transfer in Havana
  • City of Havana Tour
  • Culture events and activities

Given the normalization of relations with Cuba, laws and policies regarding payment may change.  For now, Pitt Study Abroad recommends that you plan on taking all funds you might need with you in CASH.  Although the situation is changing, you should plan on not having access to your debit or credit card while in Cuba.

Remember that your lifestyle and spending choices can greatly affect the amount of money you'll need while abroad.  Visit our Budgeting page for more information.

When You'll Go: 

Dates for the 2020-2021 academic year will be posted in the fall!

What Else You Need to Know: 

It is important that you remember that studying abroad in Cuba is a unique and rewarding experience, but it is not without its challenges. A few things to consider: Internet access is extremely limited in Cuba and many websites accessible from the U.S. (Facebook, Twitter, Gmail) may or may not be accessible while you are abroad. Communication with the United States by phone can be difficult and you cannot send mail between the two countries. Although this seems daunting, it offers you the opportunity to achieve a level of cultural immersion that simply is not possible on a majority of other study abroad programs.