A blogger writes:
I’ve started to really hate being asked “where are you from?” It’s a hard question to answer.
I live in New Zealand now, but I’ve spent two-thirds of my life in the US. I sound mostly American – although not as much as I used to. But my family has been in New Zealand for over a century, and in some cases since the 1840s. (OG pakehas, is what I’m saying.) At this point, I’m probably more comfortable being a Kiwi than an American – although I switch back and forth in search of that parallax view.
I never know how to answer this question either.
If I say “From Ukraine”, people ask me when I arrived, how I like it here, and when I am going “back home.” They also give me large, welcoming smiles, enunciate every word very clearly and loudly, and ask if America is what I imagined it to be. “Hamburgers! Fourth of July! Freedom! McDonald’s!” they yell at me, making me feel very uncomfortable.
If I say “From Canada”, I feel stupid because I have now lived in the US for a total of 9 years as opposed to the 6 years I lived in Canada.
If I say “From St. Louis”, people ask me about my accent and we immediately end up back in the “From Ukraine” scenario.
The way I would prefer to answer, of course, is “In 1998 I emigrated to Canada from Ukraine. Five years later, I went to Connecticut for my graduate studies, after which I moved back to Canada for a year. Then. . .” I notice, however, that people give me terrified looks when I do that.
The best answer I have found to the “So where are you from?” question is the vague “I’m from around. . .”