”The first time I left Cuba, was in 2016. I was 30 years old back then. Where I went? To Sweden. I always wanted to study abroad, but as a Cuban citizen, you need to have a lot of money in order to do so. In the end, I saved 3000 dollars with the help of my friends. Because I was studying at the University of Havana and all was going well, I could go. Most citizens don’t leave the country. They simply can’t afford it. I believe the government doesn’t want us to leave. They don’t want us to learn how it works in other countries, because they’re afraid we’re gonna change the system. I wish I could. I’d open the economy and raise the salaries of people who work as a teacher or a doctor. There’s a lot of disorder in Cuba at the moment. It’s not as bad as in the 90s, but it still isn’t good. Cubans need to learn to think for themselves, but that’s very difficult if you don’t have access to internet or free press. When we were kids, we didn’t know anything about other countries. As an island, we’re very isolated. I was lucky enough to go to university. I did research, went to conferences. Yet what for? I didn’t get a good salary anyway. You earn more as a tour guide or when you sell necklaces on the street. That’s why I’m desperate to go back to Sweden. I loved that country. Everyone was so open, you really felt welcome as a foreigner. I became familiar with new ideas about life, animals and nature. There’s so much freedom there, the government really cares about its citizens.”

“One thing about my stay in Sweden really stuck with me. My mom bought me a pair of shoes for my graduation. I only wore them once in Cuba. On the first day of university in Stockholm, one of my shoes broke. I was so ashamed. Soon I realized that no one cared, they didn’t even look at my shoes! In Cuba, everyone would notice it. They can tell your economic position from your shoes. Materialistic things are very important, since we have nothing. I had to work a lot during my studies in Stockholm, in restaurants and in bars. I’m accustomed to work hard, used to fight. I’m Cuban. I didn’t have the money go to other European countries during my stay. That’s just the way it is. Whether I missed anything about my country? My family, that’s all. They care about me. In Sweden, I felt like the government cared about me too, even though I was an immigrant. In Cuba, nobody cares about you. I have to stay here for another six months at least, but I don’t know if the government will ever allow me to leave the country again. I really want to explore more nations, it doesn’t matter which ones. I want to see them for myself, compare them and decide where I’d like to live. But for a Cuban citizen it doesn’t work that way. Maybe in 30 years the travel policy will change. I’m not very positive. The economy doesn’t only have to change, the way the people think as well. I really hope that will happen one day.”