Tuesday, 3 September 2013

When You're From Two Different Places

I often get strange looks after I get asked where I come from. Well, because I answer, "Here." Which isn't a lie. After living in New Zealand for roughly 11 years, and being a good, tax-paying citizen, I'd say I've earned the right to say so.

The accent is a dead giveaway though. Hence, the strange looks. Some are polite enough to accept my answer, but most persist with, "No, where are you really from?"

I find this slightly racist, since the question implies that I do not belong here. However, most of the time I just shrug it off as a badly phrased question borne out of curiosity. As an aside, the more polite version of this question is, "Where were you born?"

Anyway, to answer the question, I was born in the Philippines and I lived there until I was 18. But we'll skip through the more painful details of culture shock and teen angst. Having spent my formative years there, and then my early adulthood here, I sometimes feel like a mishmash of personalities. Either that or I have undiagnosed schizophrenia. Either way, growing up in both countries has made me into who I am, eccentricities and all.

Example, I still clutch my bag like my life depends on it when I'm out and about, wherever I am. This comes from years of growing up and hearing about pickpockets and bag-snatchers in Manila.

Another example, I'm no longer as touchy-feely with friends like I used to be. You see, Filipinos are generally affectionate. You'll see girls walking hand in hand, boys with their arms draped around each other, and no one bats an eye. The first time I tried to hold a girl friend's hand here in New Zealand, did not go down so well.

All kidding aside though, I guess I'm lucky, because I have been opened up to and can take the best of everything from both cultures. I should think about it more and use this to make myself into a better person.

Sept. 3 Blogtember topic: Describe where or what you come from. The people, the places, and/or factors that make up who you are.

Want to participate in Blogtember? Click on the button below!

21 comments:

  1. I totally sympathize. I know how it feels to be from two different places.

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  2. Thanks Sonia. Do you ever feel really out of place when you go back to your first home?

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  3. Rachel tryingforsighs3 September 2013 at 19:52

    It must have been quite a culture shock for you and difficult to get used to. I think it's lovely to be affectionate with one another, isn't it strange how places can be so different.
    Have a lovely day Toni :-)

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  4. Isn't it so interesting how those little things can be imbedded in us without us even knowing? I mean, we take them for granted as normal until we aren't around them and then are the strange ones for doing it.

    I wish that I had a similar example (I'm sure I have PLENTY) but my brain isn't really functioning. poo.

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  5. Lily @ LilyWanderlust4 September 2013 at 05:42

    I think anyone who has lived in two different cultures can feel a bit schizophrenic from time to time. I left Florida for the Netherlands 3 years ago and still feel mentally and emotionally stuck somewhere in between.

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  6. Wow! What a unique and special history you have. I have always wanted to go to New Zealand. And we have several friends from The Philippines so you have two very special places to call home.
    Nice to meet you via Blogtember.
    :-)
    Traci

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  7. Sometimes I feel schizophrenic just thinking about "where " I came from and "where" I am now...and it's all within a 50 mile radius...I can't imaging being transplated at such a young age. How wondrful though to be able to have had so much experience...

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  8. Hi Melissa, yeah I can't really complain about the experience of it all, now that I look back on it. I do feel truly lucky now.

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  9. Hi Traci, nice to meet you too via Blogtember! It's been such a great first day, I'm looking forward to meeting more bloggers like you this month. :)

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  10. Hi Lily, I think it gets a bit better with time. My first few years here in New Zealand, I was pretty miserable. Especially with the culture being so different, it definitely made me feel displaced.

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  11. Hi Christina, thanks for stopping by my blog! Yes, I know what you mean about those idiosyncrasies that we have which we think are normal, but is odd to everyone else.


    Like, my family has this odd thing of eating white bread with Milo - and I grew up thinking that was a normal thing, until it came up in conversation at high school and everyone looked at me like I was insane. Well, they may have a slight point.

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  12. Hi Rachel, thanks for stopping by. Yes, it's so odd how places can be so different, especially ones that are so close to each other, like in Europe.


    I hope you have a lovely day too! Can't wait to see more of your posts for Blogtember.

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  13. I know what it's like. I have lived in five places, and when people ask where I am from... It's weird because they expect a place within the Netherlands, which is true... As I have lived there for 9 years, but that's not where I am from. It's an annoying question

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  14. I guess it is a bit of a personal question to ask isn't it? I don't mind so much if I looked like I was on holiday, like a tourist, since I do live in a tourist destination. But I used to get asked it a lot while I was working and wearing a uniform. And to not answer that question makes me a rude employee? :(

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  15. Justin (partner) always gets asked where he is from. Or in more horrible racist cases was told once to go home. He turned around and said he did not want to go back to Townsville and preferred living in Brisbane. The best question I ever got asked about Jarvis (son) was what is is heritage.

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  16. Hahaha go Justin! I was in Melbourne with a friend from the UK a couple of years ago, and we were yelled at to go back home by this drunk man. He looked quite confused when we told him we weren't quite ready to go back to New Zealand just yet. :P

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  17. Amanda Papenfus Eatherly1 December 2013 at 19:51

    I agree, if you've been somewhere 11 years that's more than enough to say you're "from" there. I never know how to answer "Where are you from?" when it's asked here. Usually I say "originally, Ohio" assuming they want to know where I was born. But I'm technically still a resident of Florida and use that as my home of record while I'm overseas, so I also say I'm "from" there (and when people asked me where I was from there, I'd say "here" because they usually wanted to know if you were a resident or a tourist). But if people want to know where I came from before I was in Germany, I came from Georgia. (I was only there a few months though so while I came "from" there I'm not really "from" there lol). And it sounds like it would be such a simple question....

    On a side note, schizophrenia comes from words meaning "split mind", but what that refers to is actually a split from reality. Although I would recommend staying away from using mental illnesses as shorthand for how you're feeling unless you actually believe you suffer from them, if you were going to use it in this way I think you'd be thinking of having multiple personalities, which is now referred to as dissociative identity disorder.

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  18. Thanks for pointing that out Amanda.


    If I had offended anyone, my sincerest apologies for the poor choice of wording. I didn't mean to be insensitive.

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  19. Amanda Papenfus Eatherly10 December 2013 at 23:09

    You're welcome. I didn't think that was your intention. I'm probably slightly more tuned in to the word choice than the average person as well just due to my studies. I have to make a conscience effort to say for example "individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia" rather than "schizophrenics" due to the fact that one refers to a disorder separate from the individual who has it while the other is a label of the whole person.

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  20. Great post, Toni! I can totally relate to the whole "having more than one personality" bit. My parents are both Polish, so my blood is 100% polish, but I was born in Canada, grew up there until I was 10, lived in the USA in 3 states until I was 14/15, lived in Brazil for a year and then moved to Switzerland when I was 15/16 and have been here for 10 years now. That's a pretty crazy mishmash and sometimes I do feel like I don't "belong" or "feel comfortable" anywhere. Like I'm always a foreigner anywhere I go. But I guess there are a ton of upsides to this and it's better to see a big piece of the world than to live in one small town all your life :) I love that you mentioned some parts of you that have stuck from growing up in the Philippines. I feel like I'm constantly reminded (by myself) of how different I am to the Swiss people in certain aspects. But heck, who cares! I guess life is much more exciting this way ;) xx
    www.lipsticksandchocolates.blogspot.com

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  21. Wow Michelle, your childhood sounds like an incredible journey. Have you heard of the term third culture kid (TCK)? I found out about it from Susanne (http://susanneisme.blogspot.nl/). And you're right, it does make you far more interesting, so there's another upside to it. ;)

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