Monthly Archives: May 2016

Study in Cuba

Last spring, President Barack Obama became the first US president to visit Cuba in nearly 90 years, at which time he called on Congress to lift the long-standing trade embargo. This continued a promising trend of improved relations between the two countries, including the reopening of embassies and the loosening of longtime travel restrictions.  The takeaway for many mobile-minded students? There’s never been a more exhilarating time to visit this intriguing Caribbean hot spot. Let’s count down six reasons why the island of Cuba claims a spot on our shortlist of desirable international study destinations.

1. Education is a Priority Here…As Evidenced by its Excellent Universities

Cuba’s 60 public universities have grown in repute over the past several decades thanks to a strong commitment to education shared by the government and its people. Five of its universities earned places in QS University’s 2016 ranking of the top universities in Latin America, which considers factors including academic reputation; employer reputation; faculty/student ratio; citations per paper; international research network; proportion of staff with PhDs; and web impact when determining standings.

And while Cuba’s universities offer a breadth and depth of subjects to choose from, its programs in medicine are particularly celebrated.

2. It Has a Top-Notch Health System

Given Cuba’s exceptional reputation when it comes to educating doctors, it’s hardly a surprise that it’s also known for a top-notch health care system.

Just how extraordinary is health care in Cuba? Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), said in 2014 as reported by the Huffington Post, “Cuba is the only country that has a health care system closely linked to research and development. This is the way to go, because human health can only improve through innovation.”

Whether you’re looking for an innovative medical education or simply hoping to benefit from the country’s widespread access to medical services, you’ll find both — and much more — in Cuba.

3. Its Politics and History and History are Fascinating

Sure, Cuba has gorgeous white sand beaches, breathtaking architecture, and picturesque towns and villages, but so do many other Caribbean destinations. What separates Cuba from the rest? Its remarkable history, for starters.

While Cuba is small, it plays host to nine UNESCO world heritage sites with three others on the tentative list. These historically, naturally, agriculturally, and architecturally significant spots comprise everything from fortresses to coffee plantation remains — all packed into Cuba’s tiny 44,200 miles.

And, of course, no discussion of Cuba is complete without acknowledging its long-standing commitment to Communism despite tremendous external pressure, and the crossroads at which it now stands.

4. You Will Improve Your Spanish Skills

If you’re looking to learn Spanish or improve your Spanish skills, you’ll have plenty of opportunities in Cuba.  However, keep in mind that just as there’s a difference between the Spanish spoken in Spain and the Spanish spoken in Latin America, there’s also a difference in the Spanish spoken in Caribbean-influenced Cuba. That said, many language experts agree that if you can speak and understand Cuban Spanish, you’re in excellent shape as it’s widely regarded to be one of the more challenging accents.

Don’t speak Spanish? While it’s always good to learn a few basic phrases in any country where you’re traveling, the Cuban people are enthusiastic, hospitable and very patient.

Take a Chance on Sweden

Sweden’s university system is among the top performers in the world, and the Scandinavian country aims to be one of the “most research-intensive countries in the world.” But that’s not the only reason Sweden is the perfect choice for global graduate students. We asked two international students in Sweden to tell us why earning your master’s degree in Sweden isn’t just about picking a place – it’s about picking a future.

1. Study in English and Learn Swedish

Last year Sweden ranked first out of seventy countries for English Proficiency, and most universities offer programs and degrees in English. Of course, international students are still encouraged to learn Swedish, but they don’t need to be proficient to earn a degree. Marina, a grad student from Brazil studying Digital Media and Society in Uppsala, feels that this bilingualism “gives students a chance to learn a new language” while creating “a friendly and open environment since everyone can communicate.” This open environment isn’t just reflected in language. Sweden is committed to student mobility and offers more than 1000 degree programs in English.

2. Support for Creative, Innovative Research

Sweden ranks among the top five countries in the world for commitment to higher education and research, but the country also emphasizes autonomy and freedom within its universities and master’s students have a lot of time and support for independent learning and collaboration with other students. Satu, a computer science student from Indonesia studying at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, found “a lot of things [to] learn” in Sweden and was impressed with the country’s “support [for] start-up and innovation minded” students. For digital media student, Marina, Sweden offered infinite opportunities. “You can work with a Professor, do internships in amazing companies and do different courses.” Master’s students like Marina find that Sweden offers the freedom to think creatively and experiment with new ideas. With so much support and so many chances for hands-on experience, it’s no surprise that Sweden is one of the top nations in the world for innovation.

3. Soak up Swedish Culture

If your only experience with Swedish culture is Abba and Ikea meatballs, you’ve got a lot to learn. From the daily fika(coffee breaks that include tasty Swedish treats) to gender equality, Sweden exudes an individuality that is both subtle and distinct. In fact, Swedish culture could, perhaps, be summed up in one word – lagom – which means, ‘just enough’ and applies to everything from behavior and social responsibility, to sustainability and shopping. For Satu, the biggest advantage of studying at KTH is “Swedish culture itself.” Satu believes that Sweden’s culture has “many good things we can follow…[and] by living among this value, [he] believes [he] can get used to it, and bring it home and spread it to people in Indonesia.” International students in Sweden will find that the informal, inclusive university environment encourages the spread of ideas and an open dialog, and Swedish university student unions and nationer make campuses open and inviting.

4. Something for Everyone

Sweden is an obvious choice for winter sports enthusiasts, but this Nordic country is more than just a winter wonderland, and Brazilian student, Marina loves that “Sweden has so many different experiences to offer.” If you love soaking up sunshine by the sea, summer days in Sweden are almost never-ending and the country’s long coastline offers a variety of maritime activities. Sweden’s cities are full of art and culture, with music festivals, cafes, and a vibrant international feel. For the more forest-minded individuals, nearly 70 percent of the country is covered in forests and their pristine natural beauty should be a major draw. And there’s huge bonus if you’re the adventurous type – Sweden has codified the Right of Public Access into its constitution, which means that you can strap on your boots and pack, and explore Sweden’s wilderness without any obstructions. Plus, easy access isn’t limited to trails and camping – according to, Marina, it’s easy to “go around without any trouble and having public transportation with good quality around you is amazing.” So whether you want to spend, your days trekking the rugged tundra of Lapland, your nights dancing in Stockholm, or watch the sunset from a kayak along the rocky coasts of Götaland, you’ll find something to suit your taste and shape your future in Sweden.