Thursday, 9 May 2013

The tricky question

One of the first questions everyone you meet abroad will ask you is, of course, where are you from. It seems like an obvious one, but for people who have been moving around a bit in their 25 years of existence (me!), it may actually be a tricky one.

The first answer I give is, obviously, Portugal. But then some people don't seem to be satisfied enough with the country reference and get more detailed by asking oh yeah, but from which city? And that's when I feel like no one-word answer I can give them will be true enough. Here's why:
  • I was born in Braga (north of the country)
  • When I was 8 I moved with my parents to Coimbra (center of the country)
  • Where I lived until the age of 21, then I moved to Barcelona for Erasmus
  • After one year there, I returned to Coimbra and lived there for one more year
  • Then I moved to Oporto, where I lived for another year
  • After which I moved to Lisbon, where I lived for 1 year and a half
  • And then I came to Brussels
So, the final balance is: 6 cities, 3 countries. And in all of them I felt at home. So it is a bit difficult for me to define where I am from, as the sense of belonging is present in all of them.

As telling this whole story would be a bit too much for people you have just met and are expecting a simple answer to their (apparently) simple question, I usually answer Coimbra (as it was the city where I lived most of my life and where my parents still live). But I always get this feeling like I am hiding something from the person with my so blatant answer. I like it, though, that adaptation was so easy everywhere I have been to (in short and long travelings through Europe as well) and that there is more than one place that I can call home.


  1. Oh that question !

    It seems the hardest one to answer from my perspective ! Especially since people don't elaborate on what are they referring to :

    - the city I was born in (Prague)
    - the city I now live in (Brussels)
    - the country of my nationality (Slovakia)
    - my ancestry (Austrian/Polish/Ruthenian)
    - the city I was in just before coming here (Sczcecin)
    - the city where I studied (Paris/Barcelona/Milan)
    - the city I spent the major part of my life (8years in Bucharest)
    - the origin of my name (German/Hungarian)
    - the etymology of my name (Scottish)

    I would simply answer : I'm from Europe !

  2. Yes, a very "unsimple" question. Esp too in cases of multiple nationality: Oneself often does not know whether one is "both" or "none really"...

  3. Ok, here goes:
    - the city I was born in (Rajgrod, Poland)
    -the city I now live in (brussels)
    -my ancestry (Polish, Dutch and Italian)
    - the cities I lived in before Brussels (Belfast, London, New York)
    - where I studied (Belast, Ireland. gdansk, Poland. brussels, Belgium)
    -my husband to be (Spanish)
    I guess things are not as simple as they used to be.
    We all come from someplace else.