Access to information in Cuba worked a little differently than in the United States for several reasons.

I quickly learned to appreciate how easily I was able to access information in the United States. In Cuba, at least where we stayed in Miramar, internet was only available when it was a nice day outside and you had a card for an hour of internet usage (also sometimes unavailable). I heard rumors that there was free wifi on campus, but I was never able to figure it out, even after several trips to the computer lab. This is all in Havana, the capital, but I am sure that internet access was even more rare in the more rural parts of Cuba.

The most common way of sharing information was with flash drives. Cubans treat flash drives with the same importance that many Americans treat their smartphones; they contain photos, homework assignments, documents, movies, everything. Bringing your flashdrive to class was a necessity. Some wealthier Cubans had smartphones or tablets, but technology like that usually costs much more than it does in the United States.

Freedom of speech and freedom of press were sort of touchy subjects for some Cubans. I never met anybody who had a problem with telling me what they thought of such-and-such on a personal level, but most media is state-owned and therefore, state-censored. Some people had the more pro-revolution opinion that all media is censored and filtered somehow, even in the land of the “free”, so it really doesn’t matter who is doing the censoring. On the other hand, some people felt completely unable to express their opinions about the government. Historically this was a worse problem of oppression than it is now. Foreign ideas, music, art, movies, and information were discouraged by the government and even punishable offenses. Several older people told me stories about hiding out in their bedrooms or sneaking out to the beach to listen to music like the Beatles.

On a lighter note, the flow of American music and TV and movies into Cuba is strong. Any street you walked down would have at least one home selling bootleg discs from their porch. Basically all TVs streamed American shows and movies as well. Even the theaters showed American movies on a regular basis. Additionally, services existed where you would pay a small amount every week or month to receive a flash drive full of the latest movies, shows, music, and even youtube mashup videos to keep up to date.

Although access to internet is limited or nonexistent for most people, many Cubans have their own methods of finding and spreading information from current events to Taylor Swift music videos.te

This was the most technologically advanced classroom we had because it had a laptop and a projector

This was the most technologically advanced classroom we had because it had a laptop and a projector