Cuba Program FAQ

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Cuba and Travel

1. How long is the flight from the U.S. to Cuba?

A direct flight from New York (JFK) to Havana, Cuba (HAV) takes approximately 5 hours. A direct flight from Miami to Havana takes approximately 1 hour.

2. Does the group fly to Cuba together?

Due to the fact that program participants are coming from all over the world, it is not feasible to book airfare as a group. Everyone is responsible for booking her/his flight according to specific schedule criteria.

3. How does airport pickup in Cuba work?

José Martí International Airport (HAV) in Havana has 5 terminals. Direct flights from the U.S. land at Terminal 2. ThisWorldMusic’s on-the-ground staff collects program participants at the airport and transfers them to the hotel for the start of the program.

4. Is travel to Cuba legal for Americans?

Yes, travel to Cuba is legal, but only under certain guidelines. ThisWorldMusic works directly with Cuban governmental institutions to secure visas for all participants, ensuring smooth, hassle-free travel.

5. What vaccinations/immunizations are needed for travel to Cuba?

For the best and most up-to-date information on what vaccinations/immunizations are needed for travel in Cuba, all program participants are required to visit a travel clinic. A travel doctor will know the current Centers for Disease Control recommendations for every country, including Cuba.

6. Is the water in Cuba safe to drink?

Although the water in Cuba is considered potable by Western standards, we recommend that participants drink bottled water. Included in the program fee is 1 liter of bottled water per day for the duration of the program.

7. What is the security situation like?

Cuba is one of the safest countries in Latin America. There are no known terrorist groups operating in the country and the crime rate is very low. Our team keeps up-to-date through our network of contacts on the ground there, as well as through our member subscription to the daily regional bulletin put out by the U.S. State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC).

8. What language is spoken in Cuba?

Spanish is the official national language of Cuba. There are no other languages or dialects that are widely spoken in Cuba. Translators will be with the group for the vast majority of the trip.

9. What is the weather like?

Cuba is a tropical country with high temperatures and high relative humidity (up to 90-95%) most of the year. The season from November to April is considered winter, and the months from May to October, which are the hottest of the year, are considered summer. The official hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th.

Here’s a graph showing the average monthly temperature in Havana:

Here’s a graph showing the average monthly rainfall in Havana:

10. What type of insurance will I need?

ThisWorldMusic LLC is insured for all foreign and domestic operations. All program participants are required carry both basic health insurance and short-term international travel health insurance.

11. Is there phone and/or Internet access during the trip?

As of November 2015 Sprint and Verizon have reported mobile phone agreements in Cuba. Please call your carrier for the most up-to-date information, including whether there any additional charges for voice calls, data, and outgoing text messages that you may incur during your trip.

If you bring an unlocked GSM-capable mobile phone, you can rent a SIM card from Cubacel that will allow you to use your mobile phone in Cuba. Cubatel’s SIM cards come with pre-paid minutes in amounts of 10, 20, or 40 Cuban convertible pesos (CUC$) (US $10, $20, or $40), plus a daily rental fee for the SIM card of CUC$3 (US$3).

There is internet access at Hotel Presidente in Havana, which is adjacent to where the group stays. Participants can purchase pay-as-you-go tickets at nearby kiosks at a rate of 2 Cuban convertible pesos (CUC$) (US$2) per hour.

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Academics and Admissions

12. Who is eligible to apply for the Study in Cuba program?

Enrollment is open to students and professionals worldwide, as well as to the general public. No prior music or dance experience is necessary.

13. Is university credit available?

K-12 teachers who attend our Cuba study abroad program may earn up to 3 graduate credits from Ashland University in Ohio, one of ThisWorldMusic partner institutions. The cost is $175 per credit (payable to Ashland University), and participants can choose o take the course for 1, 2 or 3 credits.

14. I have no drumming or dancing experience. Does that matter?

No prior drumming or dancing is necessary to attend the Study in Cuba program. The experienced instructors at Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba (National Folkloric Ensemble of Cuba) can differentiate instruction to accommodate all levels of skill and experience, while the lecturers at Centro de Estudios Martianos (Center for José Martí Studies) tailor their lectures for a broad audience.

15. I am a professional drummer/dancer. Will the curriculum be challenging?

Yes, the curriculum is challenging for all levels.The instructors at Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba (National Folkloric Ensemble of Cuba) are world-class musicians and teachers. We welcome professional drummers and dancers attend the program.

16. What are the application deadlines?

Admission on all ThisWorldMusic Cuba programs is rolling. Enrollment is on a first-come, first-served basis.

17. How do I apply?

To apply for both the winter and summer Cuba programs, click here.


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Student Life

18. What is the average age of attendees?

The age range of a typical program is 18-65 years old. A typical group is an intergenerational, interdisciplinary mix of undergraduate students, graduate students, professors, performers, K-12 teachers and community members. While many participants come from the field of music or dance, we have many ‘non-artists’ who attend as well.

19. What is a typical day like in Cuba?

To get a better sense of what typical day/week on ThisWorldMusic’s Study in Cuba program is like, see the schedule below:

Cuba trip daily schedule

21. What is health care like?

Cuba’s health care system is world renowned for its quality and accessibility. Program participants will be provided with health insurance through Asistur. Participants are urged to review the Asistur coverage in detail and determine whether any supplemental coverage is needed for any specific medical conditions they may have.

22. What is housing like?

Participants stay at La Casona de Calzada, a charming colonial house located in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood close to shops, restaurants and the ocean, as well as to the studios of Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba where classes are held.

23. What is the average group size?

The enrollment cap for both the Summer Session and Winter Session is 25 participants. On average, ThisWorldMusic programs have 10-25 participants.

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24. What is covered by the program fee?

$3,450 program fee includes:

  •  Lodging for all 10 nights
  •  Breakfast and lunch on all days (including at La Imprenta and Palador Mallorca)
  •  Dinner on 8 of 10 nights (including at Atelier and El Idilio)
  •  All excursions and cultural activities
  •  25 hours of instruction
  •  In-country transportation, including daily to/from classes (air-conditioned bus)
  •  Complimentary enrollment in Asistur travel health insurance
  •  Visa fee

Additional benefits:

  •  Pre-departure advising
  •  Full-time program leadership and support
  •  Airport pickup/drop-off

Not included:

  • Airfare: $300-$700 (estimated)
  • Additional meals and bottled water: $175 (estimated)
  • Internet access credit: $25 (estimated)
  • Vaccinations/immunizations: depends on insurance
25. How does payment work?

For both the 11-day Winter Session and 11-day Summer Session, the $750 non-refundable program deposit is due no more than 14 after the participant’s date of acceptance. The remaining balance is due no more than 60 days after the participant’s date of acceptance.

Participant’s right to a refund, which does not include the non-refundable trip deposit, will adhere to the following schedule:

  • 100% refund of the remaining balance – if participant withdraws more than 120 days before program start date;
  • 50% refund of the remaining balance – if participant withdraws more than 90 days before program start date;
  • 25% refund of the remaining balance – if participant withdraws from the trip more than 60 days before program start date; and
  • No refund of the remaining balance – if participant withdraws from the trip 60 days or less than 60 days before program start date.
  • The $750 program deposit is non-refundable
26. What forms of payment are accepted?

We accept the following forms of payment: check, credit card and wire transfer. There is a 2.5% transaction fee when paying the remaining balance by credit card (3% for American Express). As a courtesy, this charge are waived on the initial $750 non-refundable deposit.

27. Are there scholarships available?

At this time ThisWorldMusic does not offer scholarships for the Study in Cuba program. However, we do offer customized tuition payment plans. Applicants in need of financial assistance are encouraged to seek outside funding sources.

28. Are there payment plans available?

ThisWorldMusic offers customized monthly payment plans. For more information, contact us.