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  #21  
Old 03.11.2011, 12:08
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Re: Where are you from? When are you going back?

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Where are you from? Most people seem to know I'm English after exchanging two sentences with me... Generally they want to know where in England I'm from. Depending on my mood I either say 'an hour from London' or I explain that I come from the oldest recorded town in Britain (which no-one here has ever heard of).


I have

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  #22  
Old 03.11.2011, 12:35
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Re: Where are you from? When are you going back?

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These two questions are things I ask and am asked often.

Where are you from? To me, this is a question that establishes a background for a person, nothing more.

When are you going back? What do you think is meant when asked?
1. Nothing more than curiosity, it is absolutely natural to be asked something like that. I also ask this a lot. It is funny when people have no clue, don't know how to "categorize" you, and they always, in my case, assume something else.
2. I was never asked this question, which by the way does sound a little bit..err, never mind, but rather how long do I plan to stay, and I also ask this question many times. I never assume that someone wants to go back, I ask first.
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  #23  
Old 03.11.2011, 12:37
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Re: Where are you from? When are you going back?

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I have

Full marks!
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  #24  
Old 03.11.2011, 13:03
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Re: Where are you from? When are you going back?

Where are you from. I am still struggling with German (any version) as I never learned it before I moved her 3 months ago. So I see this as a, what language to you speak question. When I answer, Britain or UK or England (depending on my mood) it opens up the second question I get asked. How long have you been here which I guess is a why don't you speak German yet question, which is fair enough, when I was saying 2 weeks that was all smiles, now at 3 months I get told I should learn German, I am trying honest!

When are you going back. I often get how long is your contract. And that is often followed by, can you extend it. I see it as a way to establish a conversation, and never saw it as a get out of here comment. Also, I guess, it's a way to know if I am going to integrate, I mean there is no point in striving to be fluent in ZüriDeuch if you are only going to be here 6 months, a year.
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  #25  
Old 03.11.2011, 13:24
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Re: Where are you from? When are you going back?

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I'm often accused of being Australian. I'm told it's because my accent is hard to place. Those of you I have spoken to in real life might have a different opinion. Who really knows. When I tell people, especially Swiss people where I am from I normally get a "I've spent some time there why would you leave, it's so beautiful there?" or "I've spent some time there do you know a guy called (insert random South African name)?" Then without fail I get the "When are you going back because its so beautiful there?" question. Always shocks people when I say I'll visit but I'll never live there again.

One question though. If I moved to the US would I be able to all myself an African-American?
The same syndrome is widespread. To Brits I'm sometimes Anzac, to Americans I'm a Brit, to Anzacs I'm a Pom. I've been asked the OP's question in a stronger form in Oz: "So, how does it really feel to be a bloody Pom?"

When I lived in Cape Town, people would ask where one studied, if the answer was UCT, the invariable follow-up was "Oh, then you must know xyz!"

Last year in Geneva I met a Kenyan at a large gathering. She asked where I was born. I told her that I was also from Africa. She laughed scornfully and exclaimed "Yeah, right!"

Which is my verbose way of illustrating that questions about origins and life paths can be very sensitive and can rapidly lead to hostile responses. Most people who ask the question are just not very good at phrasing the question. One needs to hear the intention behind the words rather than the literal statement of the question - not so?
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  #26  
Old 03.11.2011, 14:05
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Re: Where are you from? When are you going back?

Yesterday at the grocery in France, a woman in the wine section turned toward me to ask a question. Before I could even finish responding that I do not speak French well, she realized I did not speak French and said so, based completely upon how I looked (like a clueless American, wandering around a small French grocery store in white sneakers rather than nice black boots). How could I ever be offended by the question, "Where are you from?" if I am effectively walking around advertising that information?

I was surprised by the way yesterday's locked thread went, and it makes me wonder if I should be more careful in the way I throw about questions to other people, given that some are apparently offended at what I see as innocuous.

When will I go back? Same answer every time -- during the next school holiday.

When I will go back permanently? The jury is still out, but I would predict the time to be just as my French and my wardrobe become sufficient for people not to assume that I am a tourist.
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  #27  
Old 03.11.2011, 14:13
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Re: Where are you from? When are you going back?

Where are you from? to me means "how come I can't place your accent?", if I'm on my own, or "where are you from in Britain" if with dh. The next question is usually how long have you been here? (7 years next month, which tends to elicit a surprised look, presumably because my German is still relatively poor). Usually after that they move on to does your husband work here which I take to mean "is that the reason you came over". I suppose it could mean "or are you scrounging off the State, you foreign layabouts?!"

I don't remember ever being specifically asked when we're going back, but maybe because expats in our area tend to stay a bit longer than the standard 3 or 4-year contract. Or maybe I just automatically interpret it as "are you ever going back?" (which we do sometimes get asked), to which the answer is never if we can avoid it, Switzerland is brilliant and the UK is rubbish. This seems to go down well for some reason. I've never had any nasty comments about leaving. Like ecb said, it definitely helps if you can tell people that your children are in the local school - or point out which of the many Swiss-German-speaking kids at the playground are in fact yours!
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  #28  
Old 03.11.2011, 14:23
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Re: Where are you from? When are you going back?

where are you from is just curiosity, making conversation. I have been asked if I'm here permanently, which I find ok as well - people just want to know if I'm a temporary expat or planning to settle here.

"When are you going back" sounds rude though, like they can't wait to get rid of you and staying is not an option. Haven't been asked that.
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  #29  
Old 03.11.2011, 15:00
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Re: Where are you from? When are you going back?

Where are you from? Never an easy question for me. I was born and raised in Lisbon, and moved to Madrid very early in my adult life. Never felt very Portuguese when I lived there, and 20 years after leaving it, it has become a complete disconnection with the country and its peoples (even my family). Yet, even though I have (also) Spanish nationality, I don't feel completely Spanish either. Most of the times, I answer Portuguese, for a matter of discipline, specially in formal environments as this is the passport I declared when I moved to CH. Yet, I can also answer Spanish without a blink, as the subconscious takes over disciplined reasoning. After a couple of gin tonics, I might answer "I am not an Athenian, nor a Greek, but a citizen of the world", to avoid further explanations.

When are you going back? I don't know... For the moment, I live here and God knows what the future brings. Possibly in a very long time, as I always wanted to live by the sea. I don't mind it really - I don't see myself living here until the end of my days.
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  #30  
Old 03.11.2011, 16:26
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Re: Where are you from? When are you going back?

I hadn't meant to ask the questions themselves but as many did answer them, it has gotten me to thinking.

I've been here for over 4 years now. We'd had something of an agreement when I first came that we'd see how it goes for about 5yrs and then decide if I wanted to stay longer or go back to the US. Part of this agreement had to do with the fact that original plans had been for hubby to move to the US in the first place, rather than me here.

I've shared that info with a lot of people over the last few years - something now I regret. I can't help but think that it has forced others to stick me in that "not going to stay" compartment and I may have missed out on opportunities I might otherwise have had.


Meanwhile, now that I'm headed toward year 5, I'm still not sure what I want to do. I'm not as happy here as I could be, but all of the changes I can see making, I don't really see them making things different or better. There are problems I don't care to share on a public forum that, if I had more money (like if I had a job), I think would actually be worse instead of better - experience with getting little bits of "my own" money here and there, one way or another, over the last few years has made this a near certainty in my mind.

Quite a lot rides on what happens over the next year. If I'm not able to make some necessary changes, if I'm not able to see some necessary changes which I am unable to make myself, I may move back.

One thing is certain... if I go back, no matter what else comes, I'll be soooooooooooooooo happy to have my Harri with me again!
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  #31  
Old 03.11.2011, 16:43
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Re: Where are you from? When are you going back?

Where are you from?
"You have an inscrutable German accent which I can't really associate to a country and I am quite curious to know where you come from and how you came to know such good [as in good for a foreigner] German."

When are you going back?
"Youare for certain home sick. Do you miss your family, country, etc? Are you visiting soon? Are you going back to your home country in a couple of years?"


I ask the same questions to everyone I meet. I love learning about far, or not so far, away countries. Sometimes I risk being rude when a clearly Asian/Black person tells me they come from UK/Canada and I force a "ah, but where does your family originally come from?". I don't mean to be rude, but I find conversations about distant Asia/semi-distant Africa way more interesting that Canada or UK Because they are exoooooooootic, and I wanna know all about it! (not saying London is not the home city of some trully exotic birds though)
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  #32  
Old 03.11.2011, 16:47
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Re: Where are you from? When are you going back?

Where are you from?

To me this just shows interest and I think it's a great conversation opener. I often wonder where people are from, just out of curiosity, and then when they tell me, I am delighted to know more about the place, or discuss impressions if I lived/visited there, etc.

I never know what to say though. I mean, I was born in A, but was educated in A and B, was "born" professionally in B, refined in C, D, and E, now live in F, and I am thinking about moving to G. So I usually say: "It's a long story, if you have time..."

When are you going back?

I agree with the posters who said that this might have to do with the fact that, for some people, it is natural to think that one's deepest desire would be to go back to their place of origin. Obviously, not true for everyone.

After I have been asked question number 1 above, usually people don't ask me when I am going back (back where???), but where I am going next.
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  #33  
Old 03.11.2011, 16:50
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Re: Where are you from? When are you going back?

I think the answer to "Where are you from?" has to be where you grew up as a teenager. This is where your character was formed and where you learnt your culture.
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  #34  
Old 03.11.2011, 16:55
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Re: Where are you from? When are you going back?

Keep anonymity anonymous is my motto, I think so anyway.

Now for the rest of you; please reveal all...
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  #35  
Old 03.11.2011, 17:02
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Re: Where are you from? When are you going back?

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Where are you from?
"You have an inscrutable German accent which I can't really associate to a country and I am quite curious to know where you come from and how you came to know such good [as in good for a foreigner] German."
Lucky you, you haven't been (yet) asked "How come you speak German so well?" I know it is meant to be a compliment, yet.
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  #36  
Old 03.11.2011, 17:05
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Re: Where are you from? When are you going back?

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Lucky you, you haven't been (yet) asked "How come you speak German so well?" I know it is meant to be a compliment, yet.
I actually get it asked quite a lot, specially after saying I'm Portuguese... It makes me happy, because I really hate German, so it's quite a feat for me that I can speak it "quite well".
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  #37  
Old 03.11.2011, 17:08
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Re: Where are you from? When are you going back?

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I'm Portuguese... It makes me happy, because I really hate German, so it's quite a feat for me that I can speak it "quite well".
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  #38  
Old 03.11.2011, 17:17
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Re: Where are you from? When are you going back?

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I actually get it asked quite a lot, specially after saying I'm Portuguese... It makes me happy, because I really hate German, so it's quite a feat for me that I can speak it "quite well".
My situation is the reverse.
I have a typical Swiss-German name, but don't speak a word of German.
I'm often called Frau Doktor Z.......... too, when I'm in fact just a peanut-brain.
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  #39  
Old 03.11.2011, 23:20
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Re: Where are you from? When are you going back?

Where are you from?
From here, and there and yet still there (truthful response)
When are you going back?
Where is back ? (have always been here)

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  #40  
Old 03.11.2011, 23:37
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Re: Where are you from? When are you going back?

Where are you from? Switzerland
When are you going back? Are you trying to be funny
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