Yanelys Nuñez Leyva
HAVANA TIMES, Feb 3 — Until I left high school, I didn’t know how much tenacity I really possessed; I’d never had a chance to test it. It took a lot for me to adapt to the level of demands at the university.
They made no distinction between those coming from, say, the prestigious Lenin High School College Prep High school in Havana and those coming from some ordinary high schools out in the provinces, which was my case. It didn’t matter that the differences between the two types were significant.
However the die was cast, and only the will to remain in the specialty of art history made me sacrifice twice as much as I tried to bridge my gaps of knowledge, though not everything depended on me.
After I became accustomed to the cozy library of the San Juan de Lateran Church in Vedado — where I would spend hours upon hours reading Arnold Hauser’s Social History of Literature and Art and the Summa Artis encyclopedia — I learned of the plans for its closing for renovation work.
Later the same thing happened with the National Library. This was made worse by the lack of printed literature at my college’s own bookstore.
Essential books for the program were unavailable, though the Soviet manual Political Economy and books on military preparedness were always in stock. All this prompted them to begin giving us electronic texts as the only study materials.
Consequently, in addition to the dearth of reference literature, another significant item was added to our list of needs: a computer.
Actually, I can’t really complain too much. Thanks to a construction job that my father did, where the payment was a PC, I was able to get around the problem of accessing information fairly quickly (in my second year). I can now access all the materials they give me at the faculty and those that I’m able to get from other sources.
Still, for quite a while I thought that many of us weren’t going to be able to get ahold of many of the texts necessary to keep up with the tests or the level of the teachers’ demand, something that was evident in the pronounced dark bags under our eyes and fatigue that was playing tricks with all of our minds.
But people adapt to everything. Though class enrollment began to decline, many of us continued to strive in the pursuit of the ideal of acquiring greater knowledge.
Now, in the fifth year of my program, I’ve managed to gain more confidence in myself, which makes studying even more enjoyable, though I continue having a hard time trying to find everything on the syllabus, especially materials in print.
If anything, I’m glad to have also found people outside of my field of study who help guide me along this difficult path, helping me improve as a student and as a human being.