An Alternative

Esteban Diaz

I’m an Argentinean. I was born in a province called Tucuman, in the north of the country, but I grew up in Buenos Aires, the capital. When I was 17, I learned that there was a new project in Cuba that was giving out scholarships to study medicine. From that time on, I began to think about the possibility of participating in the project.

There was still another year before I could go to the university, but in any case I was very worried about my possibilities for higher education in Argentina.

I was living with my mother and at that time I was a bit distanced from my father. My mother is a nurse and in order to maintain a modest lifestyle she had to work in two hospitals and put a lot of effort into managing the family budget.

As my adolescent years went by, this situation began to bother me. My sister was already studying in the university and that was a major expense. At the time I was thinking about studying medicine, but a very opposing idea was that of beginning to study music.

Two years before, I had begun to play the guitar and I looked for an opportunity to study in one of the national music conservatories. Unfortunately, there were very few slots available.

I also became ever more aware that very few finished their studies in my country. Although Argentina has a system of “free education”, the teaching method, the highly rigorous exams, the high price of university textbooks and in addition the need one has to work and lend a hand to the family made the scholarship that Cuba offered much more tempting.

Since time was running out, I began to investigate how I could obtain such an opportunity.

Just in time I found out that a girl cousin who lived nearby was doing the necessary paperwork to make the trip, since she had already been guaranteed the scholarship in Cuba. This increased my hopes of finding an alternative to the difficult prospect of continuing my studies in my country.

However, it also brought on the question of whether I would like to spend six years far from my culture and my family, if I was willing to abandon music and, of course if I would manage to adapt to life in Cuba.