Where are you from?

If, like, your father was in the military, and you moved around a lot as a kid, how do you answer the question, “Where are you from?” America, no? The rest gets fuzzy.

What if you live 10 years in one state, move to another for a month, and then take a vacation to a third state? Where are you from? How do you answer?

If your parents are Korean, but you were born and raised in Australia, how do you answer the question. Now, same scenario, but you move to Korea since you know Korean from your parents. How do you answer?

If you were born in Oklahoma, move to Korea out of college, and live in Korea for 30 years – learning the language, marrying, and so on – where are you from? Oklahoma, probably, when someone asks. But how do you answer the same question when you return to tour New York City?

I never had a problem with this question in the past. I was born in San Diego, California, but Louisville, Kentucky is my home. Louisville, pronounced the right way, was always my answer.

Now, in Korea, things get muddier. Are they asking which country I’m from, which state, which city? What about when I visit Busan in the south part of South Korea or Fukuoka, Japan? Do I say I’m from Seoul where I’m living now?

It’s all about context. Depending on where you are, depending on where you’ve been, depending on how long you’ve stayed at each, depending on who’s asking… so many variables.

This is just one example, but life suddenly feels relative. In some contexts, it works to say I’m from near Wangsimni Station, which means nothing to the people where I’m actually from.

What about you? Where are you from?