Central America

Study abroad this Winter Break at the crossroads of the Caribbean in Cuba where lush mountains, verdant blue-green seas, and genuinely hospitable people offer a unique opportunity to immerse in the culture, climate, rhythm, and mystery that is Cuba! 

Cuba’s unique political and cultural history has long made it the subject of rich intellectual discussion. Recent economic reforms on the island make this a particularly fascinating moment to travel to Cuba as scholars, pundits, and everyday citizens debate what the future will bring. Think through this question and more during your time in Cuba while staying in numerous cities throughout the island from the coast to the mountains. You’ll engage residents and fellow students in cultural exchange; visit museums; and learn about biodiversity and the island’s flora and fauna.

Cuba Girls

Cuba Girls by Doug Wheller, on Flickr

Highlights of the trip include a stay in the magnificent and resilient city of Havana, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982; short trips to the Viñales tobacco fields; the colonial city of Trinidad; and the beaches of Varadero. You will also have the opportunity to visit the National Museum of Fine Arts, see street performances of the popular rumba dance, and talk with contemporary writers, artists, and filmmakers. 

Heather in Cuba

Mason student in Cuba, Winter Break 2014

See for yourself the vintage automobiles, walk down the cobble-stoned streets alongside Spanish colonial architecture, listen to island’s music, and enjoy the beautiful beaches and picturesque bays that have captured the imagination of so many writers and artists.

Make no mistake--this is not a typical study abroad program--this is Cuba


Day Activity

January 4

2:00pm Depart for Miami International Airport Flight SW3145

(2nd Floor, Gate G) Check-in time: 11:00am

3:00pm Arrival in Havana – Jose Marti International Airport Terminal 2

Private Coach Transfer and orientation tour with knowledgeable guide in route to check-in “Presidente”. VIP check-in.

4:00pm Check-in at Hotel

6:30pm Depart for Welcome Dinner at paladar “La California” 7:30pm visit the Community project “El Solar”

8:30pm End of Day – Debriefing

10:00pm Return to Hotel

January 5

9:00am Breakfast at the Hotel

10:30am Depart for Old Havana City official presentation.

to Hotel

A guided walk reveals some of the most famous locations in Old Havana, which has been declared a heritage site by UNESCO. We will visit 4 famous squares (“Plaza de Armas”, “Plaza de San Francisco”, “Plaza Vieja” and “Plaza de la Catedral.”)

1:00pm Lunch at restaurant “Bodeguita Del Medio”, made famous by Hemingway 2:00pm visit the open local market. Meet locals

6:00pm Return to Hotel

**Dinner on your own

January 6

8:00am Breakfast at the Hotel

9:00am Visit to “Casa de Africa” for a morning of cultural exchange and Cuban traditional music. 12:00pm Lunch at paladar “Café Mercurio”

1:30pm Visit “Museo de la Revolución”, “Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes” and view the wonderful

collection housed in the museum 5:00pm Return to the Hotel

**Dinner on your own

January 7

8:00am Breakfast at Hotel

9:00am Depart for Pinar Del Rio

10:30am Arrival at “La Moka Hotel” – Room assignments and Check-in

12:00pm Lunch at “La Casa del Campesino”

2:00pm Guided tour of “La Terrazas” – First Eco-Resort in Cuba. Visit the self-sustained community.

Visit to Home-Studio of Artist Lester Campa 4:00pm Return to Hotel

7:00pm Dinner at the hotel

January 8

8:00am Breakfast at the Hotel

9:00am Departure to “Viñales”. Lunch Included 2:00pm visit “Las Cuevas de Santo Tomas” 4:00pm Return to Hotel

**Dinner at a Private Paladar

January 9

8:00am Breakfast at the Hotel

9:00am Departure to Cienfuegos

12:00pm Lunch at restaurant “Aguada de Pasajeros”

3:00pm Arrival at the “Hotel Jagua”, Cienfuegos. Room assignments and Check-in

5:00pm Meet with Chef at “La Casa Verde” Restaurant for a culinary class of a typical Cuban Dish. 7:00pm Dinner at “La Casa Verde”, included

8:30pm Return to the hotel, walking distance.

January 10

8:00am Breakfast at the Hotel

9:00am Departure for Trinidad.

10:30am Walking presentation of this Historical City. Visit the Romantic Museum 12:00pm visit the Valley of the Sugar Mills. Lunch included.

2:00pm Visit a Private family own clay factory and receive classes in ceramic making 5:00pm Return to Hotel

**Dinner on your own

January 11

Depart to Villa Clara

8:00am Breakfast at the Hotel

9:00am Departure to Villa Clara

12:00pm Visit to the “Che” Guevara’s Memorial Site

1:00pm Buffet Lunch at the Los Caneyes Hotel. Included

2:30pm continue the journey to Havana

5:00pm Arrival at Hotel “Presidente”. Room assignments and Check-in

**Dinner on your own

January 12

8:30am Breakfast at the Hotel

9:00am Departure to the Cultural Community Project of “Monte de Espumas”. Directed by famous

artist Jose Antonio Hechavarría and his wife Yaima Gonzalez. Also, visit to the Community of “El Calvario”. The El Calvario’s Church is one of the oldest churches in the Americas. Learn the cultural history of this Town and visit their Historical Church.

12:00pm Lunch at the restaurant “Las Terrazas”

2:00pm Departure to the Hemingway’s Museum

3:00pm visit the Village of “Cojimar” made famous by Hemingway’s book the Old man and the Sea. 4:00pm Return to hotel

**Dinner on your own

January 13

8:00am Breakfast at the Hotel

9:00am Departure for the Municipality of “Regla”. Learn the Afro-Cuban culture and visit the

Town’s famous Black Virgen of Regla’s Church. 11:00am return to Havana by ferry.

11:30am visit the Capitol Building

12:00pm Lunch at restaurant “La Imprenta”

2:00pm visit the Open Market. Meet the local artisans and enjoy their fine Cuban Craftsmanship. 4:00pm Return to the Hotel

**Dinner on your own

January 14

8:00am Breakfast at the Hotel

9:00am Departure for the University of Havana.

12:00pm Lunch at the University. Included

1:00pm visit the Museum of “La Naturaleza y El Hombre”. Conference and Tour of the Museum. 4:00pm Return to Hotel

**Dinner on your own

January 15

8:00am Breakfast at the Hotel

9:00am Departure for Artist’s Jose Fuster’s Community Project 10:00am visit the Hemingway’s Marina

12:00pm Lunch at paladar “El Ajibe”.

2:00pm Visit Modern Havana

4:00pm Return to the Hotel

**Dinner on your own

January 16

8:00am Breakfast at the Hotel

9:00am Departure for the Special Education School for blind children “Abel Santamaría”. Visit their

classrooms and workshops.

12:00pm Lunch at paladar “Sociedad Castropol”

2:00pm visit in Old Havana and visit the Partagas Cigar Factory and Wilfredo Lam’s Museum of Art. 3:00pm Visit the Modern Dance Studios, “Retazos’ ” Community Project

5:00pm Return to Hotel

**Dinner on your own

January 17

8:00am Breakfast at the Hotel

9:00am Day trip to a near beach to meet with the local community. 5:00pm Return to the Hotel

6:30pm Farewell Dinner (Included) at restaurant “La Divina Pastora” 8:00pm Depart for Cannon Ceremony at the La Cabaña’s Fort. 9:00pm Return to Hotel

January 18

Group Departure to Miami

8:00am Breakfast at the Hotel

8:30am visit the open market for last minute shopping. Meet local artist and craft maker people. 11:30am lunch Included

12:30pm Transfer to Jose Marti International Airport.

Flight SW3146 Check-in time: 1:00pm

Academic Director

Jennifer Ashley

Jennifer Ashley is a Term Assistant Professor in the Global Affairs Program. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at Brown University in 2011. Her research focuses on media and social movements in Latin America. Her book manuscript, Programming Transitions: Television, Protest, and Place-Making in Chile, examines the anticipation and friction that accompany political and technological change. Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork, this project explores how Chilean television, historically and presently, mediates the relation between individual life projects and the promise of democracy. Professor Ashley comes to Mason from Tulane University where she taught courses in Communication, Sociology, and Latin American Studies. Professor Ashley has directed university study abroad programs in Santiago and Valparaiso, Chile, as well as coordinated faculty trips to Argentina. This past June, she accompanied a student group to Cuba.

Dates: January 3-18, 2015*

You should plan to arrive in Miami at least one day prior to the program start date to arrive in Havana for the first day of the program. You can schedule your return from Miami for the last day of the program or choose to travel independently.

Do not purchase airfare until you are advised by your Program Officer.

Program Fee: $4,840

The Center for Global Education Program Fee includes:

  • Tuition

  • Roundtrip airfare from Miami to Havana and transportation from the airport to the hotel

  • All lodging

  • Daily breakfasts, one welcome dinner, and a farewell group dinner

  • A local English-speaking guide

  • All tours in an air-conditioned motorcoach with driver & guides

  • Pre-departure orientation

  • Emergency medical insurance, including medical evacuation and repatriation


Scholarships are available to George Mason students through the Center for Global Education as well as through outside resources.

CGE Scholarships

Open to George Mason University students who participate in CGE Winter Break and Summer Programs. CGE Scholarship amounts range from approximately $250 to $1,000 and are both merit- and need-based. Students who are awarded a Global Scholarship may volunteer to assist CGE in the promotion of study abroad upon their return.

CGE Scholarships Information Page

Financial Aid

Mason students may also use financial aid (external link to FAFSA Student Aid) to cover a program's cost. If you are not a George Mason university student check with your study abroad office or office of financial aid to learn more about how to cover the cost of your study abroad.

How to Apply

Consult the How to Apply section for detailed instructions.

  1. Start by completing the online application.

  2. Pay the $150 registration and processing fee ($200 for non-Mason).

Note that all supplemental documents are required by the application deadline. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Contact the Program Officer for further application forms and instructions specific to your program.

*CGE reserves the right to make changes to a program in light of currency fluctuations, changing security and safety conditions, or any other unforeseen circumstances.