Where are you from?

Seems like an easy question and an obvious one how to answer to but it is actually tough!

I think it is even a bit a tactless question in our modern world.

It is more about what the other person wants to hear, not what you want to say.

Many people, I believe it is the majority of people, don’t understand why others are struggling with answering because they have never experienced that, they don’t know what is it to move to a whole another country, how much does it cost both in terms of money and all the other stuff like effort, time, understanding, risk, lost, and emotions, positive and negative.

People move a lot nowadays, our minds shifted to how we see “base” country, we are more free and able to choose a country we want to live in and the opportunity to work remotely greatly helps.

Some of us want a better climate and weather (like summer all year round), others look for people and society, just like to travel and live here and there, want to know about cultures, want to learn a language around native speakers, etc., or all these desires combined.

There are also some bad and sad factors, of course, that contribute to people tending to move to another country, may it be economic situation, political situation of any kind, human persecution for any reason, cost of living, and others.

So you have to keep this in mind when you are asking where someone is from. It may be either positive or negative experience for a person, you don’t know them and their backstory.

One more important moment to keep in mind is that a person can get confused by the question because when you changed your base country twice, three times or even more you don’t know what to consider as “from”, like what am I supposed to and what should I say?

You can name your home country, country of origin, your birthplace but I’m of the opinion that it’s not the same. What to consider your homeland is a whole another story.

I was born and raised in Minsk, Belarus. I lived there for 23 years of my life, not exactly because I travelled a lot to different countries and places, but still it is my “country of origin” and it was my homebase.

I lived in some other countries here and there during that period but never for more than one month, so it is not something like immigration and being an expat.

The next stop was Israel. That was an immigration and my new homebase.

I lived in Israel in different cities for about two and a half years.

The next stop became Portugal which is currently is. This is also an immigration but a little different one and my new homebase.

These were all my own decisions. I’m grateful and happy for them. I asked myself and my parents from the childhood about if it is possible to live somewhere else, how would that happen and how would that feel.

Since then, I decided that I want to leave my country of origin and live somewhere else.

Not because something bothered me, or was bad to me, or I didn’t like something (of course there’s always something but that’s not the case I’m writing about) but because I was and I am genuinely passionate about freedom to travel and live wherever I want to, when I want to and how I want to.

There’s so much to explore in the world! I want to learn and know more about the countries, the people, the cultures, and everything in between.

I don’t know what will come next after Portugal if it will.

So how do I answer the question where am I from?

After thinking about it for some time and living through these situations many times I understood that I tend to choose the answer depending on the situation and my inner feelings.

I can choose any variant because I don’t care.

Sometimes I do care, then I name the appropriate country as I feel it suits.

What is more important for me is not the past, not where are you from but where are you now.

This leads us to the fact that I prefer to answer with Portugal (Lisboa, Portugal currently) because this is the place and everything around it, including mental part of the history, where I do live now, what I consider my homebase, what I’m attached to and feel emotional connection with, the bond.

In the end, I think that you should think twice before asking someone a question about where they are from.

I believe it is not important as long as the person behaves with dignity, you can communicate with them and share something in common.

If it is the case then why ask in the first place? You don’t need that information.

Another way I see is stating the question differently.

There is actually one I’m aware of: instead of asking where someone is from ask them where they are local.


Reply to this post by email ↪