You will get asked this question a lot when you are abroad: “Where are you from?” they will ask.
My automatic response is that I’m from Canada. But a frequent second question after I tell them is, “where are your parents from?” In other words, they actually wanted to know my ethnic background.
So I go through the notions of telling them that I am full Chinese and where my parents were born. There is no doubt I identify with being a Canadian first, but what about those that were born elsewhere and moved while growing up?
I guess for them it comes down to where you feel most strongly connected. Canada is and always will be my home. I think even if I lived elsewhere for many years, I would still be saying “I’m from Canada”. That being said, spending time abroad has forever changed how I feel at home. When all reverse cultural shock subsided the first time I was abroad, home became a different place. It’s hard for me to explain to people who have never done it. I think most exchange students can relate to the feeling.
At the same time, being abroad has strengthened how I identify as a Canadian. No, I’m not one of those backpackers that sews the Canadian flag onto my backpack. But I am always proud to announce my roots. I am lucky to have done the big 3: study abroad, travel and live abroad, and each time it has scoped my Canadian identity further.
Near the beginning of my time here, an Australian mentioned, “Oh my gosh..You’re so Canadian.” I wasn’t even sure what he was referring to but I thought to myself:
Good, that is exactly who I am.