Black Girl Wanderer is a series spotlighting the travels and explorations of Black women journeying the world. Black women in all their magic and all their glory wander the earth, sprinkling the earth with their brown and their gold.
Romie Robertson, 26, is a travel blogger and a former English teacher who currently helps manage a nonprofit that supports professionals in becoming certified classroom teachers. She is also skilled in the EdTech and education policy space. Her travel content goes beyond the fluff and Instagram trends. Instead, it shows an in-depth view of what a place is like while sharing the history, culture, and traditions of destinations worldwide.
As a Black Girl Wanderer, she has visited over 40 countries and is based in Atlanta with her husband, who she met at Harvard University. She was first bit by the travel bug during childhood when she visited Frankfurt, Germany with family. From there and throughout her adolescence, she traveled throughout Europe. As a travel blogger, Romie bridges educational and inspirational travel content on her platforms to inspire viewers to travel deeply and with meaning. One of her most memorable trips was the two weeks she spent roaming Hawaii with her husband.
"I'm sad about the over-tourism situation in Hawaii because it's truly one of the best places on Earth, and people should experience it. However, I hope the state and local governments successfully implement policies to preserve Hawaii and prevent the inundation of tourists," she tells xoNecole.
Her best travel advice is not to compare yourself and your travels to the flashy content Instagram portrays because there are beautiful places to explore in one's backyard! If you don't have many resources to travel, start where you are.
Read more about Robertson's adventures and travel tips below.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Romie roaming the Batu Caves of Malaysia.
Courtesy of Romie Robertson
"Kuala Lumpur (lovingly called KL) is so underrated. This city has something for everyone, and the best part about KL is its affordability! Amazing food, museums, attractions, cultural landmarks, and shopping exists. I truly was blown away by how much of a metro KL is. I learned that you don't have to spend much money to have a great experience. This was the second stop in a multi-city/multi-country Asia trip that my husband and I did. I decided to stop here because I saw amazing KL content from other creators online, especially when it came to places of worship and the KL skyline.
"A few must things to experience include Batu Caves (don't leave Malaysia without seeing it). Hungry Tapir (phenomenal vegan/vegetarian restaurant). Sri Maha Mariamman Temple. Petronas Towers. Masjid Jamek Jalan Alor (famous for street food). Jalan Petaling (Chinatown market)."
Pro Tip: "There are plenty of affordable Airbnbs and hotels with beautiful infinity pools overlooking KL's gorgeous skyline — book one! And schedule at least four days in KL, if you can. There's so much to do."
Courtesy of Romie Robertson
"There is truly no place on Earth like Jamaica. The natural splendor, the famous culture, the people. My husband is Jamaican, so I've gotten the pleasure of forming a close relationship with this island. Every time I visit Jamaica, I learn more about appreciating — and paying attention to — the beauty of Earth. My most recent trip to Jamaica was in October-November 2022. I visited to support some business my husband was doing and then gallivanted around the island having fun with friends.
"There are infinite things to do in Jamaica. Here are some things off of the top of my head: Boston Jerk Center, partying in Kingston, Bob Marley Museum, 7 Mile Beach in Negril, bamboo rafting in Ocho Rios."
Pro Tip: "Try to see only some things during one trip. Plan to visit the island at least 3-4 times and explore a different region during each trip. I've been to Jamaica over six times, and there's still so much that I have yet to see."
"South Korea is definitely a bucket list destination because of its distinct culture and global impact. South Korea has something for literally everyone – outdoor/natural spaces, foodie culture, museums/cultural activities, shopping, and nightlife. The list goes on. One memory (out of many) is the last night we spent in Seoul. We sang our hearts out in a private karaoke room. I remember lots of Beyoncé songs. Then we walked outside to do a group photoshoot in our neon outfits, and rain started pouring down. We decided to do the shoot anyway, making for a cool photographic effect. Then we showered, stayed out all night partying in Hongdae, and ate some of the best take-out pizza at 3 a.m. It was a great night. "
"A few must-visit places in Seoul are Gyeongbokgung Palace, party in Hongdae and Itaewon, shop in Gangnam, Gwangjang Market, and Korean Karaoke. In Busan, check out Gamcheon Cultural Village, Haeundae Beach, Igdae Coastal Trail, and SpaLand Centum City."
Pro Tip: "Visit a traditional Korean spa. Talk about self-care! South Korea has an awesome spa culture that everyone who visits should experience. Once you leave, you'll feel like a brand new person."
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Featured image courtesy of Romie Robertson
Nazanin Mandi is never out of options.
About a year ago, the 37-year-old life coach and actress was navigating life after divorce and determined to experience homeownership for the first time as a single woman. She’d been married to the R&B singer Miguel for three years, following a long-term relationship that started when she was 18 years old. But, in 2022, she filed for divorce. It was certainly the most public change she made but, in reality, it was just one of many decisions to refocus and reach her full potential in recent years.
“During my 20s, I was not ready for more. I was living a really crazy life. It was unpredictable. I was helping somebody else grow. It was a lot, and it was intense. I was not pouring into myself the way I should’ve been,” she says in an xoNecole exclusive.
Still, as Mandi worked to get to know herself and her needs during this new phase of life, she realized the home she’d purchased wasn’t a good fit. Overwhelmed by the echoing of her voice in the spacious home, she had a breakdown and called her cousin, who immediately suggested she lease the home and live somewhere else. “I woke up in my house, and I was like, ‘This is not it for me,” she says. “All those years, I had been accustomed to living a certain way [and] in a certain house, so I bought myself a house like [my old home]. But my family was not the same. Waking up in that house by myself, it highlighted the divorce. I was like, ‘Oh, no, we can’t do this. This is not it.’ My life has changed, so my choices need to change.” At that moment, Mandi became open to the idea that there wasn’t one set way to achieve ownership on her own.
“I feel so much better. I’m in a smaller place. My best friend lives a minute from me and I can walk to her house,” she tells me during a Zoom interview from her home one recent afternoon in early February. In the past two years, she hasn’t just been advising other people on varying circumstances, she’s also been healing herself.
"During my 20s, I was not ready for more. I was living a really crazy life. It was unpredictable. I was helping somebody else grow. It was a lot, and it was intense. I was not pouring into myself the way I should’ve been."
Credit: Solmaz Saberi
If supporters began following Nazanin Mandi because of her conventional beauty or the contagious, bright, white smile she often wears in many of her photos, that’s likely not the reason they’ve stuck around. Instead, she’s amassed a following based on her transparency about her own anxiety and depression, along with the encouraging messages of self-acceptance, gratitude, ambition, and humility that are often sprinkled into her social media posts.
In an era where looking at Instagram photos of models can often lead to feelings of self-doubt and insecurity, Nazanin Mandi is determined to be more than eye candy. She’s food for her follower’s souls, too.
Since being recruited to model while dining at an In-N-Out at 10 years old, Mandi has worked in many areas of entertainment. The Valencia, California native has modeled for brands such as Olay, Savage X Fenty, and Good American. As a teen, she sang at Carnegie Hall and auditioned for season 1 of American Idol, making it all the way to Hollywood before producers disqualified her for lying about her age. (Mandi was 15 at the time, and contestants had to be at least 16 years old.) Mandi has acted, too, including appearing on Disney’s That’s So Raven as a teenager and on the BET+ series Games People Play and the Prime series Á La Carte in more recent years.
In recent years, though, she’s also expanded her professional goals outside of entertainment, too. After becoming a certified life coach in 2020, Mandi launched the membership platform You Bloome in 2022 with the hopes of providing wellness services to others, including her self-published gratitude journal. “I wish I had access to something like You Bloome earlier in my own life,” she writes on the company’s website. The actress, who has been forthcoming about her struggles with anxiety and depression, has never had a life coach, but credits therapy as a tool that “really, really saved me and it laid the foundation to who I am becoming.”
Credit: Solmaz Saberi
"I’m trying to find the balance between living life and knowing that whatever is meant for me is going to happen, but also know that I’m doing everything in my power to make those things happen and better myself."
While she’s always had a nurturing personality, Mandi says her interest in becoming a life coach was inspired by the women who would message her for advice on social media. “I would answer them back. It really sparked a fire within myself to help people,” she says.
You Bloome currently has three membership tiers, ranging in price from $2.99 to $39.99 per month. The highest tier offers a motivational text message twice a week, two live, group coaching sessions per month, and more. “We get emotional. We cry. We laugh. It’s really beautiful. I’ve built close relationships with my members through this. It’s been inspiring both ways,” Mandi says of the sessions. Still, the founder says she hopes to take on more motivational and keynote speaking opportunities in the future with the hopes of impacting as many people as possible.
And, she’s hoping to do all of this while continuing to explore a career as an entertainer.
At this point in her life, Mandi says she’s gained enough perspective on modeling, music, and acting to realize what she wants to prioritize moving forward. “We are going full force with acting,” she says, noting her goal is “to book a series regular or a film that impacts my career and the world.” She plans to continue to model, too, but has no desire to pursue music.
“I don’t want any part of that because I know what that life entails,” she says. “I don’t want to tour. I don’t want to do any of that. That is not where my heart is at.”
Credit: Solmaz Saberi
If you ask Mandi, she’ll tell you she feels most comfortable in front of a camera, but she’ll also admit that she’s recently experienced a lot of imposter syndrome when thinking about her acting career. “I think it’s a fear of not succeeding,” she says. If anything, she adds, she’s harder on herself now than she’s ever been. “There were distractions before. There’s no distractions now,” she says. “I’m putting pressure on myself for no reason.”
This is where the life coach’s own personal healing comes into play. Mandi says she’s learning recently that “slow progress is still big progress at the end of the day.”
“Currently, I’m trying to find the balance between living life and knowing that whatever is meant for me is going to happen, but also know that I’m doing everything in my power to make those things happen and better myself,” she adds.
Still, one of Mandi’s strengths is that she doesn’t feel the pressure to limit herself to just one passion. From working as a life coach to pursuing acting, she has given herself grace to explore all other dreams.
“We can be allowed to be many different things in this lifetime,” she says. “As people, our identities are allowed to expand. Don’t put us in a fucking box. I cannot live that way anymore.”
For more of Nazanin, follow her on Instagram @nazaninmandi.
Featured image by Solmaz Saberi
It's no secret that the dating scene is different from our parents' generation, so as a hopeful romantic, many parts of me feel like I was born in the wrong lifetime. My mother often says that she feels like my husband will be a bit older than me; perhaps that was her way of telling me that she hopes I find someone more mature. But these days, between the countless podcasts debating gender roles and discussions online of who brings what to the table, finding your person can feel hopeless.
Still, people are finding love every day, so how can we go from being amongst the brokenhearted and nonbelievers? How can we get to the meat of what our needs truly are to find the love we've been searching for? Beverley Andre, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist says that the key is getting out of your own way.
Q: How can we get in our own way when it comes to relationships?
A: We get in our own way in relationships by having rigid expectations that make it difficult or impossible for someone to meet. I know this is a hot topic regarding having and maintaining standards, but there’s a fine line between reasonable expectations and creating a barrier that is nearly impossible to break through.
You have to assess the standards and see if they are genuinely in protection of you and maintain the standard of how you want to be treated, or are the standards fueled by fear and what you're really trying to do is avoid feeling hurt and disappointed, so you create this cycle where you set impossible standards that no one can meet, therefore limiting the possibility of close intimate relationships, leaving you feeling lonely and frustrated.
Q: In this dating age and era, how can we determine what our needs are versus our wants?
A: Your needs are tied to the core values and belief systems, while the wants are personality and lifestyle considerations, so I recommend creating a list of both. Identify your core values early on because those are your principles and qualities that matter most to you in a relationship. Those values are fundamental to your overall well-being. For example, do you want to be with someone who wants children, has integrity, and aligns on finances? Your values should be your deal-breakers that weed out people who are not in alignment.
For wants, think of physical, personality, and lifestyle traits that aren’t necessarily deal-breakers, aren’t tied to someone’s core traits, and don’t compromise your mental wellness. For instance, enjoying 100% of the same interests, specific physical attributes, and shared cultural background. As an extra measure, I recommend discussing your needs and wants with a trusted inner circle and getting their feedback. An inner circle should give you fair feedback instead of just agreeing with it because they’re within the inner circle.
"Your needs are tied to the core values and belief systems, while the wants are personality and lifestyle considerations."
Q: Are there fundamental needs that everyone should have or has on some level in romantic partnerships?
A: Yes, to be seen and heard. No one wants to be in a romantic partnership where they feel invisible, and their needs are met with consistent resistance just because it’s different from their partner. One of the core issues I see with couples is their inability to make space for their partner’s voice and influence. They find it difficult to see the value in what their partner is saying, especially if it contradicts their thoughts and opinions. Therefore, they register it as not being good enough and lacking merit and then get into a cycle where they inadvertently want their partner to change their minds and prove to them why they have a point.
Q: What are different examples of needs that everyone has?
Q: How can we get to the meat of what our needs are so we can in turn get better at communicating what our needs are from an empowered place versus a disempowered one?
A: Identify your unmet childhood needs and heal them. I often see people trying to heal these wounds in relationships with people who aren’t responsible for creating them or fixing them. You can communicate your needs from an empowered and healthy place if you’re not starving. Getting to the meat of your needs will require self-exploration, curiosity, and patience to understand why the need is even a need.
"Identify your unmet childhood needs and heal them. You can communicate your needs from an empowered and healthy place if you’re not starving."
Q: What do you find your clients who are succeeding in relationships have done differently in explaining their needs to their partner?
A: They have done the self-work and healing to know their needs through individual and/or couple’s therapy. Most of the clients I’ve worked with never had the space to develop their thoughts around their needs. They’ve adopted their needs based on what they’ve seen in their personal lives from family growing up, movies, and now social media. Until you have a healthy relationship with yourself, where you’ve identified your needs and are meeting them, it isn’t easy to have that with someone else. You can’t communicate and give what you don’t know and have.
Featured image by Maskot/Getty Images