Where are you coming from?

American culture

Where are you coming from?

Where are you coming from is one of the tricky questions when you are living abroad. There is never a short answer to our story which can be annoying sometimes but most of all its a luxury that makes me happy. I found that Americans have always a funny response to my story of where I am coming from. 

American Culture: What are your roots?

Recently, I discovered something amusing about the way Americans introduce themselves to me.
When talking with Americans, I often hear them saying “Oh, I am also German/Italian/Dutch…”

An example of this small talk is:
American: Oh, I am also from Germany!
Me: Oh great, which city are you from?
American: Oh actually, I was never in Germany. However, my ancestors are from Germany.
Me: Interesting, do you also speak German?
American: No, but my grandparents came here from Germany, and they still can speak the language. I never learned about it, unfortunately.
Me: Have you been to Germany yet?
American: No, I have not left the US yet, but I was always saying that I want to visit Europe one day…

That’ the way many small talks go and I find it so interesting that the American culture likes to identify themselves with a culture they never actually experienced.

The concept of claiming a culture as a nationality without having some knowledge of it is a bit irritating to me. However, at the same time, it goes back to those invisible borders we created in order to shape our very own culture.

That triggers the question in me: How much can you grow into another culture by learning about it and living in a similar way? Learning the language and identifying with local values and communication can be a step to adapt to a foreign nationality. Especially coming from Germany, this is an ongoing topic with foreigners coming to live in our country. The public opinion and expectation are that families who want to live in Germany should learn the language in order to become a part of our society and not be left out. So, when you learned the language and become familiar with the culture, what kind of nationality do you have when you moved abroad and started a family with no plans on coming back?

 

 

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The German words “Heimat” and “zu Hause” translate both to the English word “home”. While “Heimat” for me the country that I am coming from, where I spent my childhood, “zu Hause” is more the country I am living in right now. In my case, Germany is my “Heimat” and the US is my “zu Hause”.

I wonder whether we as global citizens will always be somehow in between or if one nationality will fade out with the time spent in another country.

Would love to hear your thoughts on that and your story. Please share in the comments below. 

 

Thanks for stopping by and sharing the love

Kate from Share the Love, expat, expat wife, expat life

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