The Study Abroad Newsletter

Journey of Discovery

Nathan Pallett
Semester at Sea, Worldwide

Nathan with friends

My name is Nathan Pallett and I studied abroad on the Semester at Sea program.

My favorite experience on Semester at Sea by far was our few days spent in Cuba. I have never felt so much for a people and a country before in my life, it is all that I can think about. I believe, Cuba is purposefully and maliciously held back from joining the world as a developed country due to the US embargo.

From the perspective of some Americans, Cuba is a poor miserable country with desperate and unhappy people. However, during my visit in Cuba, I knew this was not true. Many Cuban’s are proud, happy, and spirited. The wealth of their nation is not measured in the stacks of paper they hoard, but the pride and spirit they have in themselves and their nation. Cuba’s unemployment rate is at 3 percent and they have a 90 plus percent literacy rate. Also, according to Canadian students on the ship, Cuba apparently has one of the world’s best health care systems. This was astonishing for me to see and hear.

People gathered in front of a government building in Havana, Cuba During our stop in Cuba, I had the opportunity to visit two universities, the University of Havana and the University of Pinar del Rio. Each university is currently conducting research on sustainable practices in Cuba. During the visit we were able to learn about the research each university was conducting on new sustainable practices in Cuba. We also learned about the Cuban government, the inefficiencies within the government and policy changes that the Cuban government is enforcing to eliminate the inefficiencies.

There is so much we could learn from Cuba and I could write forever on what I learned and saw. I hope and pray that the embargo is lifted soon. The world has so much to give Cuba and Cuba has quite a bit to give back to the world.

As a UH Hilo Agriculture undergraduate student, I would have never thought that I would have gotten the chance to see so much of the world. I am so thankful that words cannot explain how I feel and how I have grown after such an amazing experience.