Where are you from?

The answer to this question may depend on who’s asking it, where you are at the time, and what and how much you want to reveal about yourself. In many countries it’s rare to meet people who have lived all their lives in one place. Most of us move, at least a few times, to different parts of our countries and possibly to other countries.

We might choose to identify ourselves with our place or country of birth, the place or country where we grew up, or our current place or country of residence, or even the place or country from where our anscestors originated.

I myself currently live in Brighton in the southeast of England, was born and grew up in Lancashire in the northwest of England – specifically I was born in Morecambe and grew up in Silverdale. I’ve lived in various parts of the UK, and also in France, the Channel Islands (Jersey), Taiwan and Japan. So when asked “Where are you from?”, my answer might be Silverdale, Lancashire, the northwest of England, England, the UK, Britain, Brighton, the southeast of England, or somewhere near London. It all depends. Sometimes I mention the Welsh origins of my mother’s side of the family if I want to emphasise my Welshness and/or to establish my Celtic credentials.

If we ever colonise other planets, we will a new layer of identity as citzens of the Earth.

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This entry was posted in Identity.

9 Responses to Where are you from?

  1. Thomas Maska says:

    As an Esperantist I often will say that I am from earth and leave it at that. As Christian I might say that I am from the heart of the Lord. As far as layers of identity, ideology can be just as useful (and confusing)!

  2. AR says:

    When an American asks me where I’m from, they expect me to tell them my family background because I look different. I tell them that I am half Indian and half Armenian (odd mixture) but was born and still live in America. Most of the Indians in my town are from the state of Gujarat though I am not. Usually, when another Indian kid asks me about my background, they say, “What language do you speak?”. I know what they are getting at but I play along because I find it rather amusing to watch the perplexion on their faces. English, I reply. They continue,
    “I mean at home.”
    “English”
    -“Just where are you from” I explain my background and with the best luck, they have no idea where Armenia or W. Bengal are.

    Sometimes people questions about my background, then personal life to the point where one must ask them point blank, “why are you asking all this?!”

    I think Where are you from? is a broad question and to one’s advantage, the answer can be changed according to the situation.

  3. Mike says:

    When I was in high school, people would often ask me where I lived. If it was somebody I wasn’t really familiar with, I’d say, “Across the street from [girl's name],” as I lived across the street from a relatively popular girl in the school. The common reply was, “Well where does she live, then?” My reply? “Across the street from me.”

  4. Weili says:

    When I first came to the U.S. as a child, I would always answer the question “Taiwan” when asked where I am from. But since then I’ve spent more than half of my life here in the U.S. and it feels less and less natural to give the same reply when asked the same question.

    With that said though, I am not a “banana” who have lost my identity, it’s actually quite the opposite. I find that living in a culturally-diversed environment such as the U.S., it makes me appreciate my own culture and heritage even more.

  5. TJ says:

    And here people always thought I’m a lebanese or syrian or sometimes egyptian because of my white skin …. and when they see that I’m speaking english fluently somehow … they think I’m half american from the mother side or so or at least travelled to the US ….. and when everything proves wrong for them … their final answer is “HUH???”

  6. TJ says:

    >> Simon: did you get the .zip file?

  7. Simon says:

    TJ – yes it got the file, but haven’t had a chance to look at it yet.

  8. TJ says:

    Take your time and wish me luck with the rug ;)

  9. Skip Alidon says:

    Coming from a wide variety of cultural and ethnic mixtures, mainly English, Irish, Welsh, Scot, Chinese, Hawaiian, a smattering of Hebrew, and until recently, Basque popped up after some family members did a geneological search. Well, that knocked the breath out of me. People who don’t know me tend to wonder where I come from, or what and who I am.

    It’s not easy trying to explain my origins. For the most part, I simply say Hawaiian, since I was born and raised here on O`ahu island and have a tie, ethnically, to the islands via my father’s lineage. There must be a book in the making here :-)

    As to languages I can speak, it’s plainly English (American), Pidgin (actually a creole), some Samoan, a little Hawaiian and even some Hebrew, if I’m industrious. My interest in letters from around the world lead me to come across your wonderful Omniglot website.

    Mahalo nui loa, Simon. I thoroughly enjoy your website!