Copywriter & Artist
I was so excited to reconnect with Franchesca Hernandez for this episode of the podcast. I met Franchesca back in the Spring of 2015 when I was traveling across the country photographing stories in the early days of Urban Exodus. Back then, she was living in a yurt on her farm in Garfield, Texas. Through sweat and hard work, she had established a small working farm from raw land and was making a living by offering workshops, selling farmstead body products and doing freelance massage therapy. She had recently moved from Austin, was newly engaged, and had manifested her childhood dream of living on a farm. She had seemingly established her forever-home and dream life in rural Texas.
Since we last connected, Franchesca’s life has taken a wholly new and unexpected turn. After the breakup of her aforementioned engagement, she reconnected with an old flame from her teenage years. They fell quickly back in love with one another - realizing that they were destined to be together. Shortly after their reunion, Franchesca (at the age of 40) found out she was pregnant. Neither of them had planned for or thought they would have the opportunity to be parents, but they welcomed the unexpected news. Franchesca and her partner, who is British, knew they didn't want to raise their child in the United States. Franchesca was grappling with the disappointment and after-effects from the 2016 election, while her partner was fearing the upcoming consequences of Brexit. He had always reveled in the privilege of European citizenship, and wanted to see if there was a way to retain it. They decided to throw caution to the wind and move to France to establish residency before Brexit went into effect and before their child was born.
It was challenging for Franchesca to sell her beloved farm she had worked so many years to establish. Nevertheless, she committed to wholly embrace this new chapter of life. Rushing to sell her property, and move to a foreign country in the middle of a pregnancy is not something she recommends, but helped give her the push she needed to make a big change.
Leaving her farm, which had also been her vocation, forced Franchesca to reconsider her career options. People always told her she had a talent for writing, but she had grown up under the mistaken belief that that you cannot earn a living from your creativity.
However, the financial safety net from selling her homestead gave her the time and opportunity to establish a freelance writing career online. Without the long hours and pressures of farming, she starting promoting herself and getting hired for small writing jobs on freelance sites like Upwork. Eventually her talent, hard work, and resourcefulness allowed her quickly establish a sustainable living working remote from her home in France.
Franchesca's home is very rural, even more so than her farm in Texas. Their nearest neighbors are about a half mile away, and they are surrounded by farming and agriculture. Their village however, is a bustling community, rich with other artists and creatives.
While many aspects of her current life might seem idyllic, Franchesca doesn’t shy away from the more difficult everyday realities of her move to a new country, especially one where she isn't fluent in the language. She offers a lot of great advice and important considerations for those who dream of making a similar transition to another country.
A self professed extrovert - language has been a barrier to making new friends because her personality struggles to shine through in her broken French. In addition, the 2 years of extremely strict Covid lockdowns has made socializing that much more fraught.
Some days, the sheer beauty and bucolic sophistication of rural France are so stunning she can't believe it. Other times, the loneliness of not being able to hold engaging conversations with others in her area is challenging.
Franchesca is open about some of the difficulties and traumas she experienced as a child in the podcast. Becoming a mother made her decide to grapple with and work on healing these past traumas so that she could break harmful generational patterns and pass her own healing on to her daughter.
In our conversation, we speak about the cultural differences between France and the US, specifically in rural spaces, healing childhood trauma as a new parent, the different reality of Covid lockdowns in Europe, how Franchesca quickly pivoted and built a thriving career as a freelance writer, the struggles of living day-to-day with a language barrier, building friendships in a foreign country, and how true love transformed her life.
This is a story about reuniting with lost love, breaking generational patterns, moving past fear, and the joy of unexpected new beginnings.
•Franchesca's original UE Feature