My story

“MY story”… It does not sound very humble put in that way. But think of it as the story of a small-town French girl who wanted nothing but to travel and ended up marrying the love of her life at 24 and moving across the world with him.

I love that story. I love MY story

Over the past few months, I have received numerous messages from people asking me how I did it, in the kindest way possible. I have also received comments from trolls on my Instagram travel reels saying things like “and who paid for it? Daddy?” Or “it’s easy to travel and make people feel bad when you’re using your parents’ money.”

Not that this is their business really, but here’s the thing: I paid for all my trips. Period. – and to be honest, what if I didn’t? I’d consider myself pretty lucky

The point is, I know I’m extremely lucky for having the life I’ve had and have to this day. I am 100% aware of my privilege, especially of my Passport Privilege. I do not pretend to have a life that people should envy. I do not try to have anybody follow my steps. HOWEVER, I’m trying to inspire you to follow your dreams, like I did mine. I aim to guide you through moving abroad if that’s what you wanna do because I’ve been there, I know how it feels, and I know what it takes. I want to make you realize that it’s possible even when you think it’s not because I felt the same way. I want to make it easier on you than it was on me because I didn’t have a “me” growing up.

With that being said, let’s get into it, shall we?

I promise it’s not an autobiography, but I still believe I should start from the beginning, for clear-context purposes. I’ll get straight to the point soon, don’t worry! 

Nantes on the West Coast

I was born in 1997, in a small French town near Nantes, on the West coast of France. My entire family is French too. Growing up in the vineyard, but really close to the city, I’ve always been connected to both the countryside and the city. Even though today I am more of a countryside person, I still need a good city check from time to time.

As I mentioned above, my whole family is French. Well, that’s kiiiiinda true. I have had family all over the world ever since I was a kid. From the U.S – Maine – to New Caledonia – Oceania – and Togo, Spain, Thailand… you name it!

Even tho I actually never visited any of them – never even been to Maine yet, can you believe that? To my godmother, who I know will read this: I’m sorry and I promise to come this year! -, except Spain, but we’ll get to that, they would come to visit almost every year and tell so many stories. I would also get packages, postcards, and souvenirs. I was absolutely dreaming of visiting them. 

Growing up in Europe, it was easy to travel abroad. Distances are short, we don’t need a passport or visa, so my family – mom, dad, and sister – and I used to go to Spain every summer. These are my first memories abroad. I remember not being able to speak Spanish as an 8-year-old, and my uncle taught me to say “agua por favor” at a restaurant, and I ended up telling locals “agua por favor” for days…

Fast forward to 15-year-old Romane. Internet was a thing. My life revolved around social media and Hollywood stars – yes, Bieber fan here! – but at this point, I had never left Europe, and never been on a plane either. One day in school, I was playing a running game with my friends and fell. Broke my entire leg and ankle. Spent 2 months in a wheelchair. That wasn’t nice – and even though this story does not seem relevant at this point, keep reading, I swear it’ll get there

I spent hours on YouTube watching travel videos, dreaming of the day I could ever DREAM of affording a plane ticket to anywhere. I would look at flights online to literally anywhere in the world, while I was a high-school student whose only income was from babysitting a couple of nights a week. 

18 years old. I’m legal – the legal age in France is 18, for anything -. I’m in college and have a student job. I’m living my best life. But the thing is, I really wasn’t just yet? Turns out because I had broken my leg IN school, my insurance gave me money that I wasn’t allowed to use until I turned 18. And one day, my best friend tells me she wants to take a trip with me. GOOD! Yes, of course, I’m down, but where? 

1 month later, we were on a plane to Miami! How crazy is life? My best friend had family there, and I used the money my insurance had given me. First time getting a passport, but most importantly, first time ever getting on a plane!

I had seriously dreamt of this moment for way too long. And it might be dumb of me, but I didn’t really think we would get above the clouds? I guess I just really didn’t nourish the thought before. But we took off, and I was absolutely over the moon. Now, Paris is pretty much always cloudy, so taking off from there meant almost immediately being in the clouds. And up we go! As soon as we reached the sunny sky above the clouds, I started bawling. It was probably one of the happiest feelings I’ve ever felt. And I will forever cherish this moment, especially now that I’m used to flying.

Okay, so this was the story of my first trip overseas, and it was kinda long, but I needed to set the context. I had a student job and was going to college, while living with my parents, so I was lucky enough to be able to save all of my working money for traveling. A couple of months after Miami, I traveled to Barcelona, and then Finland, Estonia, Scotland, London, Italy – that’s the beauty of living in Europe -.

About a year after that first trip overseas, I got accepted into my dream school in Sweden! I took a student loan for that year abroad. Thankfully college is free in France so I didn’t have to take one before. So here I was, packing my entire life and leaving my childhood bedroom to move to the other side of Europe! I didn’t know anybody there, I didn’t speak Swedish – still don’t – but I went for it, because I had always dreamt of living abroad, and had loved my time in Finland the previous year, so how different could Sweden be? Turns out, EVEN BETTER.

I was living in Falun – red dot –

I made the most amazing friends there. I learned a ton in school. I learned to be fully independent in every aspect of my life – adulting, finances, mentally, and all the good stuff -.

I got a couple of jobs here and there while in Sweden, but nothing too crazy. I was too busy enjoying life and studying anyway. Visited a lot of the countryside, of Stockholm, took a road trip with friends, visited Russia, Latvia, Denmark, even went back to both Finland and Estonia. I also took a couple of trips back home to France to surprise my family. 

I flew to Atlanta in the middle of my year abroad to see my then-boyfriend – now-husband!! -.

But nothing will top what I did that one day. March 31st, 2018. I had a week off for Easter break – still living in Sweden btw – and I was drinking coffee while FaceTiming my boyfriend who was living in Hawaii at the time. We were chatting, and I was telling him how much I missed him. He joked and said, “come to Hawaii then”.

Even he couldn’t believe what I was doing…

So that’s what I did.

I booked a flight from Stockholm to Honolulu, and 2 hours later, I was gone. This was the most exciting trip of my life! It was a short week and it didn’t go as planned for various reasons, but I still can’t believe I did that, even 4 years later. We still laugh talking about it.

After my year abroad, I moved to Perpignan, a city in the South of France close to the Spanish border, for my master’s degree.

The red dot is where Perpignan is located

I had the cutest little apartment there with a view of the mountains. This is where I found myself. I met some of the most amazing friends, always down to go on outdoor adventures with me, studying and partying as needed. It was the best life balance. I started being healthy, going to the gym, being the most successful in school I’ve ever been, and I don’t wonder why; I was happy, I loved my life and myself – don’t worry, I still do -.

During these 2 years in Perpignan, we would go to Barcelona for weekends or visit cute Spanish towns in the mountains. I went back to Italy to visit my best friend who was studying there at the time. I also flew back to Hawaii 2 more times to visit Steven and loved every second of it.

In early 2020, towards the end of my master’s degree, I had to do an internship abroad in order to graduate. Steven was moving from Hawaii to Las Vegas for work, and because we were engaged, we wanted to live together before getting married. Now, living in the U.S is no easy task, but that’s a subject for another day. I somehow managed to find an internship in Vegas and got a U.S student visa 2 weeks after that. An absolute record

We moved in together on February 28th, 2020. 

Exactly 2 weeks later, the U.S closed its borders to Europe for 20 months; probably the most challenging 2 years of my life. But I got so, so, so, so, so lucky. I was still able to stay in Vegas with him for the remaining of my 6-month internship. However, in August of 2020, I had to go back to France when my student visa expired. Our wedding in France was obviously canceled, and I was “stuck” there for 4 months waiting for the borders to reopen and my Fiancé-visa to come. After 4 months, in December of 2020, I decided that enough was enough, and flew to Mexico by myself for 2 weeks. The thing was, I was not allowed to fly to the U.S from Europe. But I could spend 14 days in a “non-banned” country and then fly there. And that’s exactly what I did. I got an ESTA – which is basically a tourist permission to come to the U.S for 90 days -, flew overseas, and then spent Christmas in Georgia with Steven and his family. Then, we went back to Vegas for the remaining 2 months of my stay and finally started exploring Nevada and Utah. That’s when I truly fell in love with the Southwest. 

My 3-months stay was expiring, and I had to go back to France, again. The borders were closed, still. I was “stuck” there for 4 months, still. But this time, I brought our dog Youka back with me. And I decided to take that time in France to enjoy my family and friends as much as humanly possible. And I’m so glad I did, because to this day, I haven’t been able to go back there for 9 months. 

4 months later, I got my visa and finally moved to Vegas permanently! We got married in August of 2021 and have been exploring more of the Southwest ever since: Nevada, California, Utah, National, and State Parks. I am extremely grateful to be living in such a breathtaking place. I finally made a home out of Vegas. I made amazing friends, got my family to visit for a month, know my way around town, have favorite restaurants, bars, hikes, local shops, farmer’s markets, and I’m pretty darn happy 🙂 

I can’t wait to keep writing my story and hope to have you all along for the ride. In the meantime, let’s connect on Instagram and be friends!

Published by Romane Drake

French 24 year-old living abroad in Las Vegas, Nevada. I teach others to take the leap of faith and live their most extraordinary life. My mission is to guide you and inspire you to travel, get out there and explore.

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