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View Full Version : Cuba or South-Africa: where would you go??


manu
Feb 16th, 2010, 04:16 PM
Hi guys,

I have been offered a great chance to do an internship for 2 months with my university in a foreign country. I am still doubting between Havana, Cuba or Pretoria, South Africa.

I can speak Spanish, English and Dutch, so the language is no problem in either. To South Africa I would go with some friends, but Cuba would be on my own. Though I adore central-american culture, music (I loooooove latin jazz) and Cuba seems perfect and exotic to me :) Although South-Africa would be beautiful and sunny too :)

What would you choose? Have you ever traveled to one of these countries or do you live there, and what is your experience?

Thanks in advance!

manu

KournikovaFan91
Feb 16th, 2010, 04:25 PM
Havana I was there its great but I dont know what living there would be like.

manu
Feb 16th, 2010, 04:33 PM
Thanks for your quick reply KournikovaFan.

Do you know anything about the music scene going on in Havana? Do they have many concerts of contemporary latin jazz artists there? And how's with poverty? Are the buildings and the people all poor, or is there a lively modern center to the city? Thanks again.

KournikovaFan91
Feb 16th, 2010, 04:44 PM
I was only there for 4 days because after I went to a beach resort, nobody starving in the street or anything like that in terms of poverty.
So the buildings are old and kinda decaying but unlike some areas of South America nobody is dying in street.

Also crime is non-existant really and taken extremly seriously especially if committed against foreginers.

There is no really modern area like there would be in European cities or even some South American cities, so there are no shiny high rise buildings or anything like that.
For obvious reasons they aren't a ton of American services like McDonalds, Starbucks etc. But its not like North Korea despite the fact some news agency make it seem that way.

Yeah music is everywhere really, but as I said I was only there for 4 days so I dunno loads about it.

Serenita
Feb 16th, 2010, 06:44 PM
Viva CUBA, my parents go every year for 4 weeks. they love it.

Harvs
Feb 16th, 2010, 10:22 PM
south africa................. fo sho.

égalité
Feb 16th, 2010, 10:52 PM
Don't know anyone who's been to Cuba, but my friend studied in South Africa for a year and she loved it!

manu
Feb 16th, 2010, 11:01 PM
Thanks for the replies!

Just found out that:

1) the South-African campus is 30 kilometers north-west of Pretoria city :( which basically means small campus life and no city life, no night life, except MAYBE during weekends. That pretty much rules out South Africa for me. I like to party or go to a café once in a while. Nature is fine by me, but I need some civilization.

2) I can also go to London :) (pretty close to Wimbledon actually). That would be a totally different mindset (no sun, no summery atmosphere) but I love cities and all the culture/music London has to offer. Hmm hmm. In need of making this decision real fast...

Wiggly
Feb 16th, 2010, 11:12 PM
Sotuh Africa. Hands down.

propi
Feb 16th, 2010, 11:50 PM
I had the chance to be in Cuba for one week last November, and despite my previous thoughts I really found the country exciting and beautiful. La Habana is one of the prettiest cities you can find in Iberoamerica and the Caribbean, old Spanish colonial style... Spanish Embassy close to el Malecón is simply awesome.
The city itself is safe and concerts... well you find them almost in every bar of the city. Habana vieja is a great place just to walk around. People is extremely friendly... maybe for some reason, maybe not.
If you finally decide to go there take the chance to visit some of the country, it's very easy to do so by bus, from La Habana to Trinidad (most beautiful place in the island) you have a 5 hours journey by bus (not very expensive 20CC I think), then you can try to Santa Clara, which is halfway between Trinidad and Varadero, and later continue to Varadero and relax there in some hotel. I really wish I had had more days to visit the eastern part of the island as I could only visit the west side, but it was really worth it, most beautiful place I've been this year along with Bogotá (Candelaria quarter):hearts:
Now let's hope you can find someone as passionate as me but with South Africa :p

KournikovaFan91
Feb 17th, 2010, 12:57 AM
Yeah Varadero is great, the beach and hotel were amazing :hearts:

And the swimming with dolphins which you can do really cheap compared to other countries. :hearts:

Danči Dementia
Feb 17th, 2010, 01:47 AM
Cuba is a really beautiful country :worship:

the cuban people is very very kind and nice.

you´ll have a wonderful time there.

taking a walk througouth the malecón is amazing :inlove:

McPie
Feb 17th, 2010, 01:48 AM
RSA ;)

at least I have a friend and a teacher there :lol:

Valanga
Feb 17th, 2010, 01:59 AM
South Africa, hands down

jefrilibra
Feb 17th, 2010, 02:15 AM
South Africa hands down! At least if you're bored you can go visit the rest of the continent.

If you wanna get away from Havana, where do you want to go? Guantanamo Bay?

ZODIAC
Feb 17th, 2010, 02:29 AM
my sister and husband lived in Havana as diplomats ,power cuts, food rations no internet and South AFRICA is so beautiful and at par with any North American city.If I were you South Africa will be my choice ..blue skies,sunny and very modern.Cuba is caught in a time warp...
Varadero is a nice place to vacation though..

The Witch-king
Feb 17th, 2010, 07:24 AM
South Africa hands down! At least if you're bored you can go visit the rest of the continent.

If you wanna get away from Havana, where do you want to go? Guantanamo Bay?

the rest of the continent? The child is only there for two months and africa is not exactly small

Sam L
Feb 17th, 2010, 08:18 AM
Hi guys,

I have been offered a great chance to do an internship for 2 months with my university in a foreign country. I am still doubting between Havana, Cuba or Pretoria, South Africa.

I can speak Spanish, English and Dutch, so the language is no problem in either. To South Africa I would go with some friends, but Cuba would be on my own. Though I adore central-american culture, music (I loooooove latin jazz) and Cuba seems perfect and exotic to me :) Although South-Africa would be beautiful and sunny too :)

What would you choose? Have you ever traveled to one of these countries or do you live there, and what is your experience?

Thanks in advance!

manu

If I were you, I would go somewhere where I'll be on my own to truly make it a unique experience for me. You can spend time with friends all the time.

Plus you love the culture, music etc..

I'd LOVE to go to Cuba. South Africa just doesn't really do it for me. But other African countries are interesting.

Keegan
Feb 17th, 2010, 12:28 PM
South Africa. Pretoria isn't really the best place to be, but it's not that far from Johannesburg which is great for shopping and entertainment. You've also got Sun City if you want to go away for a couple of days where you can go on a safari (in a car, and you can sign up for an elephant-back safari IIRC) or just go enjoy the Valley of the Waves and casino or other activities there like the zip line. You can also visit Cape Town for a couple of days, which is a really beautiful place. Unfortunately the crime levels in some parts of the country are the only real let down, otherwise it's an amazing place.

Barrie_Dude
Feb 17th, 2010, 03:33 PM
Havana. You can explore the Caribean

KournikovaFan91
Feb 17th, 2010, 09:41 PM
Cuba is a really beautiful country :worship:

the cuban people is very very kind and nice.

you´ll have a wonderful time there.

taking a walk througouth the malecón is amazing :inlove:

Yeah they are all so friendly in Cuba. :) :) :)

Typical some real bigoted comments made it in here. :rolleyes:

PlayByPlay
Feb 18th, 2010, 02:34 AM
If you go to Cuba remember its a Spanish speaking country therefore Latinos. From what I have seen on the TV Havana is really nice full of culture. As for South Africa only some parts are nice, there is also the city Johannesburg.

manu
Feb 19th, 2010, 01:49 AM
Thanks guys!

I'm still not 100% sure, but shifting towards Cuba now.

South Africa is definitely the more culturally challenging experience, but we'd probably be stuck on our uni's campus during the week so we'll only be able to do things outside (city trip, safari) during weekends. While my hospital (I'm a medical student) in Cuba would be in the center of Havana, with everything closeby.

London seems like a great city, but with more or less the same Western culture I've lived in my whole life. I feel like I should take the chance to do something different and take it a little farther from home.

Will let you know what I chose! Take care,


manu

manu
Feb 19th, 2010, 11:00 AM
Made up my mind: I'm going to Cuba! :)

To the poster who said South-Africa is more modern and there are more things to see compared to the time-warped Cuba: that might be true, but I would be in the northern part of South Africa, stuck on a fenced university campus, next to a township where you can't walk around after sunset and 30 km of the nearest city Pretoria. So my only opportunity to really see the country would be during the weekends, so we could really do little. I'd also live on an all-black uni campus. I think that would be a cool experience, to be like almost the only white guy there, but on the other hand, I like the international atmosphere, and I'm a bit afraid that the black students wouldn't like us - South-Africa has a long history of Apartheid. I basically just think that being stuck on the uni campus day in day out ruins a lot of the things you could potentially see in South Africa.

Then I prefer to be in the city center of Havana. Yes, Cuba might be a land of forlorn glory, but it would still be very interesting to me to experience the old glory of the city. I also adore jazz, and with Cuba being the latin jazz capital in the world, that's like paradise to me! A lot of culture and music going on in the city, which I love. And I also like that the city is diverse: you'll find blacks, whites and people of all colour, travelers, musicians, you name it... On top of that the island should be beautiful.

Happy with my decision! :)

KournikovaFan91
Feb 19th, 2010, 03:41 PM
Yeah thats another thing Cuba is very diverse so many ethnicities. Its such a mix.

Good Luck and let us know how you get on.

The Witch-king
Feb 19th, 2010, 05:21 PM
ok i'm glad your honest but you do realise that black people in South Africa aren't all from the same Ethnic group? 9 of the official 11 languages are "black" languages, they are all different with different cultural backgrounds etc. So just because they are black doesn't mean they are the same.

Also, regarding the apartheid issue, I've found from my own experience that its black people who have a harder time in majorly white areas, than it being the other way round. In a way it's black people who tend to suck up to the whites there :tape:, guess that's part of the legacy of apartheid.

Granted, I personally would still go to Cuba. But trust me, SA and Africa in general is not as bad as people make it out to be.

propi
Feb 19th, 2010, 05:38 PM
Congrats for your decision Manu :)
I really think that, if you only have weekends as free days, your time will be better spent in Cuba, at least you can watch a worthy part of the island during your two months stage.
Visit Trinidad (very small town but whose visit should be compulsory, trust me) one week end, try to reach los Cayos another one, then go to Viñales (the most fertile part of the island) another... it's very easy to find any lodging since many people offer their own houses at very competitive prices.
And of course, don't forget Hemingway... "My mojito in Bodeguita, my daiquiri in Floridita"
;)

KournikovaFan91
Feb 19th, 2010, 08:55 PM
ok i'm glad your honest but you do realise that black people in South Africa aren't all from the same Ethnic group? 9 of the official 11 languages are "black" languages, they are all different with different cultural backgrounds etc. So just because they are black doesn't mean they are the same.

Also, regarding the apartheid issue, I've found from my own experience that its black people who have a harder time in majorly white areas, than it being the other way round. In a way it's black people who tend to suck up to the whites there :tape:, guess that's part of the legacy of apartheid.

Granted, I personally would still go to Cuba. But trust me, SA and Africa in general is not as bad as people make it out to be.


I dont mean this in a bad way but all television ads on TV here for the World Cup and South African tourism have never featured white people.

Also with regard Jo-burg, isn't it the most dangerous city in the world surpassing Medellin in Colombia. I'm just saying I wouldn't be that keen on visiting it.

Raiden
Feb 19th, 2010, 10:52 PM
Thanks for the replies!

Just found out that:

1) the South-African campus is 30 kilometers north-west of Pretoria city :( which basically means small campus life and no city life, no night life, except MAYBE during weekends....Are you nuts? 30 km north east of Pretoria means you're very close to or actually in... Sun City! That's like a cross between Las Vegas and Disneyland.

That means if you ever get bored being there, it will almost definitely be because of your own fault.

young_gunner913
Feb 19th, 2010, 11:20 PM
South Africa, my friend is currently studying there and she loves it!

Sexysova
Feb 20th, 2010, 12:28 AM
South Africa :)

Sam L
Feb 20th, 2010, 01:24 AM
I'll tell you one thing. I definitely won't be going to South Africa before or during the World Cup this year. :o I hate soccer, I hate soccer hooligans even more.

I really want to go to Cuba and Florida. Maybe I'll try and go there when I go to New York.

The Witch-king
Feb 20th, 2010, 07:50 AM
Are you nuts? 30 km [b]north east[b] of Pretoria means you're very close to or actually in... Sun City! That's like a cross between Las Vegas and Disneyland.

That means if you ever get bored being there, it will almost definitely be because of your own fault.

he said north WEST.

The Witch-king
Feb 20th, 2010, 07:54 AM
I dont mean this in a bad way but all television ads on TV here for the World Cup and South African tourism have never featured white people.

Also with regard Jo-burg, isn't it the most dangerous city in the world surpassing Medellin in Colombia. I'm just saying I wouldn't be that keen on visiting it.

my point was that not all black people (esp in South Africa) are the same / speak the same languages / have the same culture or background. To me assuming that a place lacks diversity just because there's mainly black people is rather presumptuous. As for johannesburg and safety ... I really can't answer that :)

The Witch-king
Feb 20th, 2010, 07:57 AM
I'll tell you one thing. I definitely won't be going to South Africa before or during the World Cup this year. :o I hate soccer, I hate soccer hooligans even more.

I really want to go to Cuba and Florida. Maybe I'll try and go there when I go to New York.

don't go to the UK then :tape:

Keegan
Feb 20th, 2010, 12:23 PM
I dont mean this in a bad way but all television ads on TV here for the World Cup and South African tourism have never featured white people.

Also with regard Jo-burg, isn't it the most dangerous city in the world surpassing Medellin in Colombia. I'm just saying I wouldn't be that keen on visiting it.

Go to the good areas and you're perfectly fine. It's not dangerous as a whole. I've walked around with my phone out, my money out whatever in certain areas and never had a problem, but other areas are extraordinarily dangerous.

spartanfan
Feb 20th, 2010, 12:38 PM
Made up my mind: I'm going to Cuba! :)

To the poster who said South-Africa is more modern and there are more things to see compared to the time-warped Cuba: that might be true, but I would be in the northern part of South Africa, stuck on a fenced university campus, next to a township where you can't walk around after sunset and 30 km of the nearest city Pretoria. So my only opportunity to really see the country would be during the weekends, so we could really do little. I'd also live on an all-black uni campus. I think that would be a cool experience, to be like almost the only white guy there, but on the other hand, I like the international atmosphere, and I'm a bit afraid that the black students wouldn't like us - South-Africa has a long history of Apartheid. I basically just think that being stuck on the uni campus day in day out ruins a lot of the things you could potentially see in South Africa.

Then I prefer to be in the city center of Havana. Yes, Cuba might be a land of forlorn glory, but it would still be very interesting to me to experience the old glory of the city. I also adore jazz, and with Cuba being the latin jazz capital in the world, that's like paradise to me! A lot of culture and music going on in the city, which I love. And I also like that the city is diverse: you'll find blacks, whites and people of all colour, travelers, musicians, you name it... On top of that the island should be beautiful.

Happy with my decision! :)
Congrats on your decision! I don't think you will regret going to Cuba. As an American I've longed to go to Cuba for years, but most Americans are restricted from going there. I once read that Fidel Castro offered free tuition to medical schools for African Americans back in the day, so that they can then take their trade back to the US and help out in impovrished areas. Also if you're able to Cuba is so close to many other Carribean islands as well so you may get a chance to island hop and explore a bit. Where do you currently live? And good luck with your medical studies.

Slutati
Feb 20th, 2010, 12:41 PM
Made up my mind: I'm going to Cuba! :)

You made the right choice. :worship:
Have fun!

propi
Feb 20th, 2010, 03:17 PM
Go to the good areas and you're perfectly fine. It's not dangerous as a whole. I've walked around with my phone out, my money out whatever in certain areas and never had a problem, but other areas are extraordinarily dangerous.
Agree, I only was there for work 5 days, and Medellín seemed OK as long as you use your common sense... would you walk alone in the dark in some parts of your city??? I only regret I didn't have more free time to visit a bit of the city center

Barrie_Dude
Feb 20th, 2010, 05:00 PM
If you go to Cuba remember its a Spanish speaking country therefore Latinos. From what I have seen on the TV Havana is really nice full of culture. As for South Africa only some parts are nice, there is also the city Johannesburg.
The Cuban people are very nice

manu
Feb 21st, 2010, 12:06 AM
ok i'm glad your honest but you do realise that black people in South Africa aren't all from the same Ethnic group? 9 of the official 11 languages are "black" languages, they are all different with different cultural backgrounds etc. So just because they are black doesn't mean they are the same.

Also, regarding the apartheid issue, I've found from my own experience that its black people who have a harder time in majorly white areas, than it being the other way round. In a way it's black people who tend to suck up to the whites there :tape:, guess that's part of the legacy of apartheid.

Granted, I personally would still go to Cuba. But trust me, SA and Africa in general is not as bad as people make it out to be.

Hey SheepInDaBigCITY,

This is a very interesting discussion. I'm glad you shared how you felt about my reaction. I definitely, no doubt, agree with you that throughout history, black people - with almost no exception - have had much tougher times than white people being in a minority group among people of another 'race' (damn, I really hate that word).

The main reason I didn't choose South Africa, is because of the bad location and the being 'stuck' on a uni campus far away from interesting venues (I'd have to work 8 to 5 each day in the hospital so no time for other things during the day. We'd need a car and would only be able to go to Pretoria once in a while, which is also not too advisable to be around walking outside after sunset. Kaapstad, Bloemfontein, etc. would be far far far away).

But I do admit this country would also have taken me a bit out of my comfort zone. South Africa in the year 2000
- had the highest rape and assault rate in the world
- had the second highest murder rate worldwide
- has more than 5 million HIV infected people. Probably 1 out of every 2 patients I'd see would be HIV infected. Am I scared of that? No. Can I handle that? Yes, if I apply some basic rules (be a little more careful with HIV patients and blood contact, not walk around outside the campus after sunset, take a car for everything) I would generally not have to worry about safety. Does it take me out of my comfort zone? Yes. Can I adapt to that? I believe I can.

(now I do NOT mean to depict South Africa as some kind of marginal country. They are very modern. They are one of Africa's most progressed countries. But they do still have some major issues, just as every country has their issues)

I just asked myself: I think I CAN handle an extreme experience. But am I really looking for that? Or am I looking to get in contact with a 3rd world country, learn about what good medicine can mean for the people there, but also relax at times and be able to really enjoy my stay too? Yes, definitely.

No, on the one hand, I'm a bit disappointed in myself for not trying out Africa. I think it's the most amazing thing, the furthest away of my 'easy living' I could be, it should be an amazing experience getting in touch with the sickest, the poorest and the ones in most need. But at the same time one of the happiest, liveliest, most modest and thankful people in the world. But do I want to spend virtually 2 months on a campus, doing a safari once in a while in the weekend? No. As cool as the experience might be, that's not worth it to me. And I do admit that I am not sure about the situation of me being white on an a campus with 1000s of black students. I do believe 90+% of the students would be nice, smart, open-minded young people, who would just be like any other white/black/asian/... student in my own Western uni. But being white, you'd attract attention immediately from the few who wouldn't have the same intentions. Apartheid has only officially been abandoned for about 15 years. And, importantly, this university was originally built for the black students who didn't get accepted by other SA universities. So originally, it was an institution founded with indirect racial motives. Overtime it developed as a well-respected university and nowadays produces more than half of South-Africa's number of doctors, having established itself as the best medical faculty of the country. But, being founded on such unhealthy principals, I do not exclude that there could still be some hard feelings left towards white people, who have things so much easier in their lives most of the time, which has never been illustrated more clearly than in that country. I don't want to be paranoid, but I don't want to be unrealistic either.

I admit you were right though that I might forget that all these black students have their different backgrounds, different points of view, different opinions and different worlds, just as we 'whites' have. But I guess being the only 'white' or 'black' or 'yellow' or 'brown' person (whatever floats your boat :)) among a big group of others does that for you. I don't want to be superficial about any person and don't want to judge them because of race. And I do respect each and every one of these students a lot for taking their chances, fighting hard (harder than most of us white people have to do) and work hard to earn themselves a better life. I VERY very much respect that.

Now why did I write such a lenghty post? lol :) I'm not sure! There was not really a reason for all of this! But sometimes, I think feelings and opinions about all this should be expressed. It's really important.

manu
Feb 21st, 2010, 12:19 AM
Oh and by the way, thank you guys for the nice words and wishes. Appreciate that ;)

Will let you know if I'll be able to arrange my stay in Havana (the deadline is next week! But it should be ok). And of course, in a year or so, I'll keep you updated from Cuba if you're interested ;)

tenn_ace
Feb 21st, 2010, 12:22 AM
South Africa is ABSOLUTELY MARVELOUS!!!!
Went once and now am addiced to this country. Every time there are more new different things to see. Beauty.

PS. Never been to Cuba.

Andrew Laeddis
Feb 21st, 2010, 12:23 AM
I've always wanted to visit Cuba

AleOrtu
Feb 24th, 2010, 04:56 PM
Cuba, they speak my language :D

Anyway I always wanted to visit an english speaking country but I want to visit Ireland and New Zealand first.

ZODIAC
Feb 24th, 2010, 06:25 PM
I'll tell you one thing. I definitely won't be going to South Africa before or during the World Cup this year. :o I hate soccer, I hate soccer hooligans even more.

I really want to go to Cuba and Florida. Maybe I'll try and go there when I go to New York.I understand most africans dont care much for Americans because of their lack of culture:pdont blame the messenger:rolleyes::tape:

KournikovaFan91
Feb 24th, 2010, 06:33 PM
Cuba, they speak my language :D

Anyway I always wanted to visit an english speaking country but I want to visit Ireland and New Zealand first.

:woohoo: Visit Ireland, but definatly go in the summer even though there would more than likely still be a high chance of rain :lol: