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Off-Campus Study

Spanish Studies Abroad in Havana

Due to the State Department warning, this program is on hold to Lake Forest applicants until further notice.


Havana is a beautiful city with historic neighborhoods, a captivating water-front and a diverse cultural heritage makes it the perfect setting for a meaningful cross-cultural learning experience.

The Cuban people are outgoing, friendly and interested in meeting Americans. The attitude of Cubans is one of the most remarkable features that distinguishes them most markedly from Americans. It is a positive attitude, a defiant resistance to the despair and adversity that permeate their lives. How do Cubans express their “choteo?” By sharing stories (often very humorous!), telling jokes, playing or listening to music, or complimenting a beautiful woman. A Cuban writer said it best when he wrote, “En esas levedades, a veces sanas, otras premeditadas, el cubano desarrolla una resistencia que le permite encontrar luz donde todo parece apagado.” This best captures the Cuban choteo: to find light where there is total darkness. Perhaps the biggest lesson that American students can learn when they go to Cuba is one regarding perspective of life.

Spanish Studies Abroad offers students the rare opportunity to immerse themselves in Cuba’s rich blend of African, European and American cultures, and to experience it from within.

Lake Forest College students can participate in either the Spanish Studies or the Integrated Studies program in Havana.

Program Type

Approved Third Party Provider


Havana, Cuba

Languages of Instruction


Program Dates

Fall 2018: Early September to mid-December

Spring 2019: Late-January to mid-May

All dates are tentative and may change.  Spanish Studies Abroad will alert all accepted students of final dates.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have junior status or higher before participation. 
  • At least 20 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75, and a 3.0 GPA in all Spanish coursework
  • Successful completion of one semester of intermediate college level Spanish or the equivalent. Up to 5 semesters may be required for students that wish to directly enroll at Havana or the University of the Arts.


Founded in 1514, this Caribbean gem was a key to the Indies and one of the most prosperous ports in the Americas. As you explore the streets of Havana, the rhythms of rumba surround you, along with the sights and smells of Cuban culture. The Cuban people are outgoing, friendly and interested in meeting Americans. Cubans, including fellow students at Universidad de La Habana, take pride in their country and in their diverse cultural and political heritage. Recent changes to US government regulations allow students enrolled in a college or university to travel to Cuba. Spanish Studies Abroad offers students the rare opportunity to immerse themselves in Cuba’s rich blend of African, European and American cultures, and to experience it from within.


Spanish Studies Abroad offers you a unique opportunity to study in Cuba, one of America’s nearest and most significant neighbors. All courses are taught by Cuban university professors with extensive experience in teaching American students. You will take classes at the Universidad de La Habana (UH), Cuba’s principal and oldest institution of higher education. Our programs also include participation in an array of cultural activities and study trips designed to encourage direct interaction with the Cuban people.

Information on the courses available can be found here.

Student Life

To enhance your cultural experience in Havana, Spanish Studies Abroad organizes various excursions, study visits and other activities throughout your semester. These activities are coordinated to enhance your class studies. Some sample cultural excursions may include:

  • Old Havana
  • Museum of the Revolution
  • Afro-Cuban rumba performances
  • Salsa concerts
  • Cienfuegos Province
  • Viñales in Pinar del Rio Province
  • Matanzas Province


Aside from the considerable entertainment of just walking around and watching people in this safe city, there is much popular music. The cafes and restaurants in areas popular with visitors all seem to have groups of guitar, bongo and flute players drifting in and out.

Many young people get together at neighborhood meeting places to play dominoes in the daytime and to dance salsa and rumbas in the evening. In addition, there are several popular salsa dance halls and discos in Havana, with entrance prices from 5-20 CUC. Dancing is something that moves all Cubans and they love to have you join in!

Housing and Meals

While in Havana, participants in our program will reside with local families in a homestay option unique to our program.

  • 2 students per home maximum
  • Room and board
  • Weekly laundry

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee.  The program fee for the SSA Havana program includes orientation, on-site director, university fees, housing, most meals, and insurance.

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Sspring 2019 programs:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)


Program Deposit (credit)


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


Program Deposit (non-refundable)


Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, books, supplies, personal expenses, additional travel etc.)


Total Out-of-Pocket Expenses






Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of March 2017.  We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate. Internet fees are not included.

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

Do check your student account on My.Lakeforest for your aid awards, as much of this will go with you. If you want to compare your program to the cost of being on campus, those numbers can be found here: https://www.lakeforest.edu/admissions/tuition/fees.php

Experiences of Former Students

Director of Off-Campus Programs Ashley Sinclair did a site visit in March 2015. Check in with her!