Update: Summer 2015, Adventures Continue – East Coast, U.S.A. !

Greetings amigos!

Since my return to the U.S. from Spain, I have continued my travels along the East Coast in Columbia, South Carolina; Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania; Virginia Beach, Virginia, and my hometown, Cape May, New Jersey. It’s been a busy, productive summer thus far with conferences and internships; however, I’m excited to finish up my final semester at VWC and continue my studies in Arts and Cultural Management.

**Remember: click the photos to view in larger format**

I miss Seville, Andalusia, Spain, Dulce and Manuel, Lizzy, my ISA peers, and, of course, the wonderful friendships and memories I shared with Sevillian friends. This past semester feels like a dream that one would never want to wake. Overall, my adventures and travels in Spain have allowed me to experience the world beyond measures and without limits. I cannot wait to return – well maybe, a new destination this time around (possibly, Latin or South America or maybe Asian countries?). World culture is a beautiful social phenomenon and I am anxious to travel and test out the waters…

In the beginning of June, I travelled with my close friend, Marcus, to Columbia, South Carolina to attend an arts entrepreneurship conference titled SAVVY Musician in Action partnered with USC School of Music. This workshop was an intense 5-day project-based, training event which business teams strategized marketing plans, finance budgeting and research, as well as social media coverage to compete for an investor’s bid to jumpstart the team’s business. Even though Marcus and I travelled to SC together, the workshop was so involved that we spent more time together along the 5.5 hour car drive than at the actual conference.

I don’t think we knew what we were getting ourselves in for – but it was definitely worth the experience and meeting amazing, new music friends!

The project-business my team created was ARTSploration! This business sponsors mentorship between student-artists/musicians and professionals to inspire pathways of success in the arts. Although ARTSploration! does not officially exist, check out the website we created to promote our business at the conference. Click here: ARTSploration!

Soon after my adventures in South Carolina, I headed north to Philadelphia area to intern with Philadelphia International Music Festival. I worked with music students ages 8 – 18 years old who came from all over the world (Japan, Taiwan, China, Macedonia, Turkey, etc.) to study with musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra. It was a wonderful experience that inspired my desire to teach and encourage students to continue their musical talents – whether it serves as a professional career or leisure with their community and friends.

It was a busy, hectic two-weeks; even after having the electric down for three days – festival concerts, evening events, student recitals, chamber rehearsals, and private practice still resumed. We even had pop-up talent shows to stall when transportation to Ocean City, N.J. was running behind and the electric was down for movie night. It was amazing to witness how these students are talented in multiple ways, aside from their musical genius.

Lastly, I have been home in Cape May, New Jersey for the past few weeks. It’s been really fun to come home and experience my hometown through a different pair of eyes. I admire the beautiful, green nature of my city. There is also amazing culture here – between the outdoor summer concerts, weekly farmer’s markets, beautiful beaches, tasty seafood, and outdoor sporting, I really can’t imagine living anywhere else. (Well, maybe I have to find a job, first.) 😉 To make it easier – I’ve created a video montage of a weekend adventure I shared with my friend Bill from Norfolk, VA. He very much enjoyed his stay here in Cape May. I hope you enjoy the video!

In the meantime – I’m preparing myself to return back to Virginia Beach. I have a few more music gigs on my agenda this summer. I hope to make the most of my experiences and internships before I’m out into the real world next season. The world is an exciting place with so much to offer. I hope to continue traveling and examining the world through new eyes beyond each corner I look. Until then – I’ll try my best to live each moment to its fullest.

Thank you for reading. Stay in touch -~ Stephanie.

Me and Mom, Summer 2015. Love you!
Me and Mom, Summer 2015. Love you!
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Music and cultural diversity + Paris, France 2015; Enjoy!

Hola amigos,

Here are some video collections of different music and cultural activities I’ve attended while in Sevilla and Málaga during my last two weeks abroad.

The University of Sevilla’s cultural center, CICUS (Centro de Iniciativas Culturales de la Universidad de Sevilla), hosted an afternoon of African music and dance as part of their “Inauguración Laboratorio de Cine Africano”. The musicians used African instruments such as the djembe and kora as well as authentic African song, chant, and dance to demonstrate their heritage of cultural and musical communication to the audiences at CICUS. The female vocalist also taught us how to dance basic steps to African dance. Overall, I really appreciated the enthusiasm and authentic nature of their performance.

The following two video segments are of Flamenco at El Tabanco in Sevilla and Spanish Pop-cover group, Sótano Sur. Both musical environments identify with different historical and cultural references. This is something very unique that I have come to appreciate about Andalusia and the integration of cultures and influences throughout history. There are theories that ‘el cante’ of flamenco stems from the migration of gypsies from North Africa as well as common musical characteristics, such as melismas and microtonality, of Islam prayers and religious calls.

I captured footage of Sótano Sur during El noche en blanco (White Night Festival), an annual music festival in Málaga that celebrates music and culture with musical genres extending from contemporary pop music, symphonic orchestra, cover bands, etc. The city was raging with people – it was almost impossible to catch any performances front and center; however, I really enjoyed the atmosphere of bringing people of all ages together in the community. Even as a foreigner, I felt welcomed and invited to enjoy the spirit of how music metaphorically moves audiences.

This video is a short montage and commentary of my adventures to Paris, France in April 2015. Paris is amazing with so much history and culture that it takes considerably more than three days to really soak it all in. In the meantime, I’m very happy to share my travels with you. Enjoy!

Besos,

Bienvenidos a mi patio … <3 Córdoba, Spain
Bienvenidos a mi patio ❤

Stephanie Renee

Como una mariposa – transformada gracias a la cultura española

Buenos días amigos,

Well, it’s less than a week away that I return to the United States after living and studying in Spain for five months. This experience has been a wonderful blessing and I am so fortunate to have the support of so many people. I could not have imagined anything different than the amazing opportunities to travel throughout Spain, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

(Don’t forget: Click on the photos to enlarge them)

I have met so many interesting people; attended insightful concerts, conferences, and master classes;  and managed to maintain exceptional grades at the university. My Spanish language skills have improved greatly. I look forward to cultivating friendships in the States that will help me continue to grow and learn about Hispanic culture in the U.S. It’s tough to admit, but research shows that our cultural diversity and demographic statistics are only expanding as work and learning opportunities continue to grow in our nation. As for me, I’m absolutely estatic about this!

Since the end of the semester, I’ve been in Spain for two weeks (Sevilla and Málaga) to finish my Spanish adventure strong – saying goodbye to close friends, enjoying the last bit of authentic  Iberian ham, Spanish wine, flamenco, beautiful natural life, and maybe catching some interesting, questionable observations. This was a good decision since I have been able to debrief from all my travels.

One of the toughest challenges of this semester was saying goodbye to my lovely, supportive host parents, Manuel and Dulce. Since my first day in Sevilla, they have welcomed me with open arms, offered me delicious food, shared lots of laughter and created many long-lasting memories.

Dulce and Manuel
Dulce and Manuel

I really hope they have the chance to visit me in the US so that I can share with them my culture and how American lifestyle is not always exactly what is depicted in cinema or television series. Manuel and Dulce are practically second parents to me. I’m so fortunate to have family around the world.

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Lizzy, Me, Manuel, and Dulce… Our Spanish Family 🙂

I stayed the past few days in Córdoba with my best friend, Katie, who is studying in Spain for three weeks. I have missed her so much. We attended an Equestrian show, toured La Mezquita-Cathedral, and finished some sovenir shopping for our families. Córdoba is famous for leather and handcraft ceramics. The city is also decorated with Islamic art which dates back to the Arab-Muslim Empire of Al-Andalus from 8th-15th centuries.

I could not have imagined a better place to live and experience a mixture of world cultures for this semester abroad. My family, friends, and professors have continuously supported me every step of the way. I am so blessed to have an amazing network and community of people who believe in adventure and discovery. Thank you.

There are a few things I look forward to when I return home. One thing is…. Pancakes. No joke! I don’t regularly eat pancakes anyways – I used to cook them for my younger cousins, but really… My mouth waters every time I think about a stack of buttermilk pancakes from Ihop.

Another thing I look forward to is meeting my baby nephew, Austin. My brother and his wife gave birth to their second child in March and I’ve been dying to meet him since. He and his brother, Trevor, are the cutest kids around. I can’t wait to give them hugs and kisses until their cheeks are red!

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Trevor and Austin ❤

Finally, I’m really looking forward to networking and building my career connections. I’ll begin my summer attending SAVVY Musician in Action Conference at University of South Carolina. After that, I will be interning with Philadelphia International Music Festival and Virginia Wesleyan College’s Sacred Music Summer Conference to build my work competence in Arts Management. Lastly, I’ll be interning at the end of August with Lake George Music Festival in Lake George, New York. How exciting!

This semester abroad has been a dream come true. I’ve made many amazing Spanish friends and become comfortably independent as a mature, young woman. I’m looking forward to connecting with my family and friends in the U.S. as well as keeping in touch with my new friends in Sevilla. Much love to all. Thank you all so very much.

Quizás, voy a continuar mi aventura con los viajes a otros países en Sur América. Tengo muchas opciones. Sin embargo, una cosa lo más importante es que quiero inspirar y apoyar cualquier persona que quiere viajar y experimentar toda la belleza que el mundo le ofrece.

Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. - Howard Thurman
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. – Howard Thurman

Besos amigos. Hasta luego,
Stephanie Renee ❤

La vida sevillana ~ A video capturing beautiful sites of Parque de María Luisa

Buenos días amigos,

It is difficult to believe that it is nearly the end of my semester here in Seville – I cannot believe time has gone by so quickly, practically within the blink of an eye. I’ll admit, these past few months have been a blessing. I have met so many wonderful people, seen magnificent sights throughout Europe, and also learned a lot about myself as a future leader of this next generation. Traveling and adventure teaches you how to examine culture, history, beliefs, etc. from a different perspective. It opens your mind to new ideas and reflecting who you are in a global community. 

However, after all of my adventures to Italy, Paris, and the U.K., whenever I return to Sevilla, I always feel at peace – like a comfortable city to call home. To show you exactly what I mean, here is a short video I created to share the amazing, unique nature of Maria Luisa Park in Sevilla and its beautiful people. Enjoy!

Besos , 

Plaza de España
Plaza de España

Stephanie

La belleza de vida ~ La belleza de la naturaleza – The beauty of life; the beauty of nature.

Well, I traveled last weekend to Valencia, Spain and my trip was amazing. I had no idea that Valencia was blessed with beautiful natural life where the trees served as canopies for the heat of the sun and the flowers give vibrant colors for a stroll along the park. Also, the aquarium, L’Oceanogràfic, is the largest aquarium in Europe.  

I created a video of photos and clips of my travels in Valencia. The city, itself, is gorgeous and the people are very charming and welcoming. Not to mention, I took all of these photos using a simple Cannon camera – which simply proves the natural beauty of Valencia. ~ Unfortunately, I have class and cannot explain much in words, so please, enjoy this video. I’m sure it will make you want to visit the beautiful city of Valencia, too!!

Besos,

City of Arts and Sciences; Valencia, Spain
City of Arts and Sciences; Valencia, Spain

Stephanie 

Mi amor por Andalucía… Un finde en Málaga.

“…. It takes a long time to become young.” ~ Pablo Picasso 

Well, if that is the case, I never intend on growing up. I spent the past weekend in Málaga, the birthplace of Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso. Málaga is a gorgeous city with beautiful palm trees, an amazing harbor view, and peaceful beaches along the Alboran sea. In short, here is a video montage of my weekend visit to La malagueta (city beach), Málaga Cathedral, Gibralfaro Castle, Centre Pompidou Málaga, Interactive Music Museum, Caves of Nerja, Maro beaches… and much more. I’m so happy to be studying, living, and enjoying life here in Andalucía this semester. I could ask for anything more. Pues, nada… tengo viajes a Paris y Londrés la próxima semana. Siempre cuando vuelvo desde un viaje, Sevilla parece como mi hogar. ❤  

Enjoy the video. Stay in touch! Mucho amor xoxo

Stephanie

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Italian Adventure!~ Spring Break 2015

Hola amigos ~ 

Wow. My trip to Italy was amazing. I cannot believe how many beautiful sites I visited during my brief weekend adventure to Bologna, Florence, and Rome.  I created a fun video montage of pictures, videos and commentary about my adventures to Piazza MaggioreTowers of the Asinelli and GarisendaBasilica di San Petronio, and Museo Internazionale e Biblioteca della Musica in Bologna; Piazzale Michelangelo, Accademia GalleryBasilica of San Miniato al Monte, Piazza del Duomo and Uffizi Gallery in Florence; and The Colosseum, Roman Ruins, Vatican Museums and Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. 

It was also very fun to speak to other people from around the world including India, Dubai, Romania, Hong Kong and Japan about their travel experiences, cultural differences and perspective about the historical sites in Italy. I truly enjoy traveling. It’s a passion I want to continue throughout my lifetime to learn as much as possible about the world and my understanding of who and what I represent in a global community. 

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Ciao!! 

Stephanie 

Skyline view of Florence, Italy. <3
Skyline view of Florence, Italy. ❤