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The city of Santa Clara, the lively capital of the important province of Villa Clara (population 250,000), is in the central part of Cuba and is only about 172 miles east of Havana by car. Founded in 1689, Santa Clara remains a strategic stopping point for those traveling to the island’s other provinces. It is an hour to the pristine beaches on the Atlantic and Caribbean coasts. Known within Cuba as a liberal city, its mix of exciting nighttime activity for Cubans, as opposed to tourists, includes theater, dance and even heavy metal and multicultural festivals. Spaces for live music and to connect with alternative art expressions on the island proliferate here like nowhere else in the country. Santa Clara boasts the second most important university in the country which contributes to the city’s dynamic youthful atmosphere.

Santa Clara is now famous for the monument honoring Ernesto “Che” Guevara, one of the key figures of the Cuban Revolution, who is buried there with 16 of his fellow fighters. In l958, “Che” and his men were responsible for derailing an armored train full of munitions at Santa Clara, halting the advance of Batista’s soldiers, a resounding victory and a decisive moment for the revolutionary movement. A stunning bronze statue of Che, his mausoleum and a museum with some of his personal effects, are located alongside. This makes Santa Clara an essential visiting site for Cubans and tourists alike.

Change "For Santaclareños, an important figure is Marta Abreu, a 19th-century heiress, whose name appears in many buildings, including the university. Abreu was the benefactor responsible for the financing and construction of many important historical institutions such as the ornate Teatro de la Caridad, which has many touches considerably ahead of its time, such as folding seats and a stage with many mechanical gadgets.

But perhaps the most important fact about Santa Clara is that it provides an opportunity to live and experience a world of warm and friendly people away from the stresses and chaos of the nation’s busy capital city. It’s many large parks, such as the Parque Vidal, are pleasant gathering places for the local people. Neighborhood groups of impromptu singers and musicians sometimes perform in areas where in former times, carefully controlled strolling in circles provided the principal opportunity to meet a significant other! The slower paced life makes it an easier, safer place to move around, to walk where one needs to be instead of hoping for a bus and to interact with the friendly Santaclareños and form a real relationship with the country and its culture.

Students who want to study abroad in Santa Clara, Cuba with API can choose from a number of courses at the Universidad Central Marta Abreu de Las Villas (UCLV) in subjects as diverse as accounting, architecture, Cuban history and culture, economics, engineering, sociology, Spanish language, and more!

Founded in 1952 the principal site of this modern campus is on the outskirts of Santa Clara. Airy corridors and green lawns make it a pleasant place to spend the academic day. It is the most interdisciplinary of all the institutions of higher education in Cuba. It has 9,000 students and 3520 professors, and 12 faculties with 52 majors including the humanities and social sciences. It is known throughout Cuba for its research and laboratories. Proud of its innovative development, broad academic offerings and a solid commitment to the values of the nation, UCLV is renowned throughout Cuba as the second most important university after Havana and the one with the highest academic qualifications and rankings. There are also many student clubs and activities for undergraduates, including the Federacion Estudiantil Universitaria, or union of students.

On-Site Staff

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Emily Moran

Emily Moran will be your Resident Director in Havana and a resource for you on-site.