Study Spanish at the University of Havana and experience Cuba from within

Spanish courses at the University of Havana is a perfect way to improve your Spanish and experience Cuba from within

With Cuba becoming such a popular travel destination why not combine your visit with improving your Spanish? The short-term Spanish courses at the University of Havana is a perfect choice for you to experience Cuba from within. 

I studied for more than four months at the University of Havana, and can truly approve of the classes and the teachers! Even though it is more than 4 years ago now, I still have contact with some of the other students and teachers. I have wanted to write this post for a long time to spread the word of this excellent opportunity to experience see a Cuba at most will not know about.

In this post, you will find my personal experience and some practical information to help you plan your stay at the University of Havana.

The classes and extra-course activities

It is the Linguistic Faculty at the University of Havana which offers short-term Spanish courses for none-Spanish speakers, and you can choose the amount of time that fits that best for you; everything from 2 weeks to 6 or 9 months are available.

I have taken my fair share of Spanish classes over the years. Even though, I have had excellent Spanish teachers in Spain (and some not quite so good), at the University of Havana I met teachers that were highly prepared professionals while also being amazing personalities!

The short-term Spanish courses for foreigners at the University of Havana is a perfect choice for you to experience Cuba from within and improve your Spanish

 

The classes were always well-prepared. While focusing on standard Spanish grammar and formalities, the teachers also included information about Cuba, Cuban history, and customs.

Many of the things that I learned about Cuba like the best slang words or these interesting facts about Cuban society. I got from these knowledgeable teachers. They were always happy to share and answer all our questions about Cuba. Read more about things you might have to get used to while studying and living in Havana here.

Apart from the Spanish classes, there were also offered different tours for us students. Both organized formally by the university and on the initiative from both teachers and students. Everything from nights out to city walks and visiting the International Book Fair.

The location of the University of Havana

The Linguistic Faculty of the University of Havana is located at the main campus of the university in the neighborhood, Vedado. Vedado is closing up to Centro Habana, and only around half an hours walk from the historic center of Habana Vieja.

Vedado is a beautiful neighborhood and it is easy to find accommodation there. There are also a lot of new things going on in the neighborhood (remember to check out this post about Vedado). While it is still within walking distance to all the classic touristic things to do in Havana.

The Spanish courses at the University of Havana and visa requirements

If you want to stay longer than the one month that your tourist visa is valid then the university will provide you with an academic student visa. What are you waiting for let’s head to Havana and improve that Spanish!?

I studied at the University of Havana for more than four months and just paid month by month. However, I told the administration that I wanted to stay for that long, and they helped me get a student visa for 5 months. This included getting my own Cuba ID card with temporary residency. However, they do check up on you that you enroll for the next month. If you don’t enroll again the next month, they will cancel your residency  – and then you will be in big troubles!

It is not necessary to enter Cuba with a special student visa beforehand. You can just enter with a normal tourist visa, and then change to the student visa when you arrive.

How to enroll in the Spanish courses at the University of Havana?

Before leaving for Cuba, I tried hard to get in contact with the university to get an approval of whether the classes were happening or not… Without much luck! So, I had to just get myself together, cross my fingers and head to Cuba. The possibilities that you will have to do something similar are pretty big. Even though the internet connection has improved in Cuba, it is still not common.

The enrollment for the Spanish courses takes place every first Monday of the month (except August) at 9 o’clock in the morning. Head to the university, and ask for the department of Spanish for non-Spanish speakers.

The short-term Spanish courses for foreigners at the University of Havana is a perfect choice for you to experience Cuba from within and improve your Spanish

 

At the enrollment, representatives of the faculty will first do a quick introduction (both in Spanish and in English, I’m pretty sure). Then they will give you a small written test. That is followed by a small oral test where you will be chatting with one of the teachers.

The test is only to assess that you will be placed on the right level. So don’t worry about your Spanish! You are there to learn, right?

Classes take place Monday through Friday from 9 am in the morning to either 12.30 pm or 13.30 pm. You will get the precise information when you arrive. If you are interested in more practical information on the processes at the university check out more here.

The short-term Spanish courses for foreigners at the University of Havana is a perfect choice for you to experience Cuba from within and improve your Spanish

Levels of Spanish offered at the University of Havana

The courses are divided into five levels;

  • Principiante – Beginners
  • Elemental – Elemental
  • Intermedio – Intermediate
  • Avanzado – Advanced
  • Superior – Superior

The idea with the enrollment test is to assure you end at the right level. If you feel that you have ended up at the wrong level (either too hard or too easy), don’t be afraid to ask the teacher to change class.

The short-term Spanish courses for foreigners at the University of Havana is a perfect choice for you to experience Cuba from within and improve your Spanish

Prices for Spanish courses at the University of Havana

Current prices for the Spanish courses at the University of Havana:

  • 2 weeks course – 200 CUC
  • 3 weeks course – 240 CUC
  • 4 weeks course – 300 CUC

Or you can go for a package of:

  • 4 months – 960 CUC
  • 6 months – 1,392 CUC.

Remember that the prices can always be a subject of change. Check for any updates here at the university’s website or here at the linguistic faculty’s website. Thus, be prepared that this might not even be completely up-to-date either.

Apart from these short-term courses, there are some longer-term courses which extend over 4, 6 or 9 months. Check out this official website for the university for more information.

The short-term Spanish courses for foreigners at the University of Havana is a perfect choice for you to experience Cuba from within and improve your Spanish

Bottom line, if you get a chance or are already planning a longer stay in Cuba and want to improve your Spanish at the same time. Do NOT hesitate on studying Spanish at the University of Havana.

Remember to check out current price lists, updated information etc. at the linguistic faculty’s website here and at the University of Havana’s website here.

The short-term Spanish courses for foreigners at the University of Havana is a perfect choice for you to experience Cuba from within and improve your Spanish
Have you ever studied a language abroad? Where? Or would you be up for trying out the courses at the University of Havana?
Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
Loved the post? Share the love and spread the word of these amazing Spanish courses to the rest of the world – thanks!
Study Spanish with the short-term courses at the University of Havana and experience Cuba from within

25 comments

  1. OnTrip.dk

    Spændende læsning, Rebecca selvom jeg nu nok ikke kommer til at læse spank på Cuba syntes jeg det var god underholdning. Tak for det 🙂

    /Annette

    Reply

    1. Rebecca

      Tak for at kigge forbi, Annette 🙂 Jeg er glad for, at du fandt læsningen underholdende selvom du ikke lige ser dig selv lære spansk i Cuba 😉

      /Rebecca

      Reply

  2. Mona

    Sounds like you had a fantastic experience. 🙂 I studied Spanish for 4 years in high school and now can barely say more than “where is the bathroom?” I would love to be able to re-study it. You’re making it so tempting!!

    Reply

    1. Rebecca

      Thank you so much for dropping by, Mona! I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed the reading. Haha, I know! That’s usually what happens to high school languages, right? I have it like you with German which I studied in school. You should definitely consider Cuba as an option for re-studying Spanish!

      Reply

  3. Janine

    This sounds like such a great experience! I studied Spanish in Mexico when I was in college and it was the best thing I ever did. Clearly the cultural immersion left an impression, because now I live there! I think everyone should study abroad, especially if they wish to learn another language!

    Reply

    1. Rebecca

      Thanks for dropping by, Janine! Wow, Mexico really also sounds like a great place for studying Spanish! How cool that you ended up moving there! All the best luck with Mexican life 🙂

      Reply

  4. Lindsey

    You’re making me want to hop on a plane and get back into school, Rebecca! The University of Havana sounds amazing!

    Reply

    1. Rebecca

      Hi Lindsey! Thanks for looking by! I’m so happy to hear that I could tempt! You should talk with your husband’s company about sending you guys to Cuba next 😉

      Reply

  5. fabunka

    What a brave woman you are, I’ve searching info on courses en la Habana and I am very grateful for this article. Can I trouble you with some more questions? Where did you live or what do you think is the cheapest way to stay there? Ive been to Cuba once, this March and I had a wonderful time. I wouldn’t wanna stay in casa particular probably or a family because it’s expensive. Thanks!’

    Reply

    1. Rebecca

      Hi Fabunka,
      Thank you so much for dropping by! It was exactly to help out people like you who want to go that I wrote this post, so I’m so so happy to hear that you found it helpful!

      No, worries, ask all you want. I stayed in a Casa Particular for the first two months, and then I got a contact for renting a place through my salsa teacher. THUS, mind that it is illegal for foreigners to rent a place like this (so, just keep it’s as our little secret 😉 ). So, my best advice for you would be to find a casa particular for the first time, and then start asking around for people how might know somebody. I agree that casa particulares can be expensive but try to look for some around the university as you might be able to find small rooms in casa particulares cheaper than usual as it is away from the touristic area. If you want to read more about how it was to live in Havana as a foreigner, I’ll recommend you to read this piece which I wrote for Travellettes; http://www.travelettes.net/havana-blues-what-its-like-to-live-in-havana-as-a-foreigner/
      Thank you again! And enjoy your time in Cuba! 🙂

      Reply

      1. fabunka

        Thank you so much for your reply and dont worry, I have now read all your articles on Cuba haha 🙂 Another thing that I wanna ask is how much it cost you for those 4 months (food, accomodation, transport, extra activities) Excluding price of the course. If you don’t want to discuss here, I can send you an email 🙂

        Thank you!

        Reply

        1. Rebecca

          No worries 😉 I’m happy to hear that you could find inspiration in my other Cuba-posts 😉 Uh, that was a hard one! Since it is actually some years ago that I studied in Havana, it is a bit hard to remember. However, as I remember it than I spent 150-250 USD on accommodation (150 USD being a not authorized place, 250 USD being a casa particular for a month). And I believe that I might have used around 200-250 USD on food, transport, salsa class and nights out pr. month. You can properly good it cheaper. At the casa particular where I stayed food was included morning and evenings. When I stayed “privately” it was not. Thus, I preferred the flexibility of being able to cook myself.

          I hope that helped you to plan a bit better 🙂

          Reply

  6. Sam

    I admire what you have done and have been planning on doing the same thing (4 months in Cuba). I have been trying to reach the university of Habana by the phone using a call card but nobody seems to pick and the website for the university isn’t opening. Are there any other steps I should take to begin the process of studying Spanish in Cuba. Also, how did you find a host family?

    Reply

    1. Teuntje

      Hey Sam!
      I’m planning a similar trip as you but for a shorter time, I stumbled upon this article and it got me interested in studying Spanish at the university. Did you already manage to get more information on the course?

      Reply

      1. Rebecca

        Hi Teuntje! Thanks for dropping by! You can find more information about the courses here: http://web.flex.uh.cu/en/node/191! Good luck with your Cuba trip!

        Reply

    2. Rebecca

      Hi Sam! Thanks for your visit! I’m so happy to hear that you find this post useful! I know that it can be very complicated to reach the university. Actually, they don’t start the process of registration before you have arrived at the university. You enter Cuba on a normal tourist visa, and then change it to a student visa while you have registered at the university.
      Regarding host family, I lived in a casa particular (private Cuban home opt for rental to foreigners). I found that please online before arriving. Alternatively, you can book a couple of nights in a hostel, hotel or casa particular available online (check AirBnB there are a couple nowadays), and then wander out the area of the university or ask around at the university when you arrive. Plenty of Cubans know somebody renting out.
      I hope this helped you a bit more in your planning. I wish you all the best with your Cuba trip! 🙂

      Reply

  7. Neal

    Hi Robecca,
    If there is no pre- register/ booking, then ,am I guaranteed a spot at school? If there is a large number of people show up on Monday to apply for the course, will they be able to accept all? Thanks

    Reply

    1. Teuntje

      Hello Neal,
      Did you already get more information on this? I’m looking to do the same thing!

      Reply

      1. Rebecca

        Hi Teuntje,
        Please check out my answer to Neal and Sam, and let me know if you have any other questions!

        Reply

    2. Rebecca

      Hi Neal,
      Thanks for dropping by! As far as I’m concerned there is no pre-register or booking for the Spanish courses. Without being sure, I think that they adjust the number of teachers to the number of students to fit in all the students showing up. Generally, Cuba is a lot more relaxed with all these things than other countries. It is more take things as they come-attitude 😉
      Though, remember that it is only every first Monday of the month (except August) that there is enrollment.
      Good luck with your Cuba trip – please feel free to write me again if you have any other questions!

      Reply

  8. Irina Rey

    dear Rebecca.
    You are very kind, helping every one like this. Very grateful for your generosity.
    I have a question, please.
    As you said: “You enter Cuba on a normal tourist visa, and then change it to a student visa while you have registered at the university.” And we all know that we need a flight ticket out of Cuba before we even get our visa. Would you recommend to spend extra and get an open ticket or do you have a different suggestion? Thank you in advance.

    Reply

    1. Rebecca

      Hi Irina,
      Thank you for dropping by my blog! I’m happy to hear that you found the information useful.
      Depending on your level of Spanish and where you are from, it would be recommendable to book a return ticket (there are websites which will “rent” you one cheaply), to be on the safe side regarding your entrance to Cuba. I didn’t have a return ticket when I entered, and as far as I reminder I just told them that I wasn’t sure about when I would be leaving and wanted to buy my ticket while in Cuba but assured the migration officer that I would leave before the visa expired. Of course, it demands a certain level of discussional Spanish to have this kind of conversation at the border if the migration officer proposes your story. And they might be treating you differently depending on what passport you travel on. So, to be on the safe side buy or rent a return ticket. Or speak with the Cuban embassy in your country about how to get a student visa from the begin. However, it might be very complicated and take a long time. I hope this helped you a bit on your way. All the best of luck!

      Reply

      1. V

        Hi Irina & Rebecca, I am here researching the same issue about legality of buying an open plane ticket, to avoid losing the cost of the return ticket when my dates are unknown. Rebecca, can I ask where you flew from? I have been to Cuba twice from US, and wonder if it is stricter from here than from other places (I had no issues either time but stayed less than 30 days and had a return ticket). I have some conversational Spanish but not 100% confident to navigate sensitive immigration issues while trying to speak formally and remember conjugations. 😆 Thanks for all this helpful information.

        Reply

        1. Rebecca

          Hola Valentina!
          Thanks for joining the conversation! 🙂 I certainly believe that they differ between where you fly in from (and what passport you are entering on!). I flew in from Germany on a Danish passport when I didn’t have a return ticket. The second time I flew in from Colombia (still on a Danish passport), but this time with a return ticket. I think the best option is to search for those “rent a flight ticket” websites if you want to be on the safe side!
          I’m so happy to hear that you found this post a source of helpful information! Please let me know if there is anything else 🙂 All the best of luck with planning your trip!

          Reply

  9. Robert

    This is great information, thanks very much for posting. I stayed in Vedado last winter, a couple of blocks from the university. I wondered if it would be a good place to improve my Spanish. Your article answered just about every question I had, and then some! Gracias from Canada.

    Reply

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