Ausfahrt (Followed by an 8th Grade Giggle)
An observation, not a comparison. In the United States, you often hear people say things like “I’m Cuban …” or “I’m Jamaican …”. But over in Europe, they always add the word ‘from’ and then name the place. As in “I’m from Sweden”. Maybe it’s just a difference in how English is spoken, but I find it interesting to wonder if it actually means something more. To me, adding in the word “from” signifies that you are who you are now, while also giving notice to where you started.
Then again, I’m weird and I drink.
But seriously, think about it. In America we like to hyphenate. Even if generations have passed, we still consider ourselves Irish-American. We want people to know that we are the latter without ever forgetting the former. Maybe it’s because I’m such a mutt, heritage-wise, but I have no real hyphenation. And yet, over in Europe I often (sometimes begrudgingly) simply state that I am American. Not that I am from America.
I really, really like the distinction. And I need to remember that it’s more than just language syntax.
We have a problem. “We” meaning pretty much the entirety of the planet. We’re too tribal. Now it’s important for people to remember where they’re from. Being proud of Cuba, Jamaica, Sweden, and Ireland is good. Very good. Adding a hyphen isn’t bad. Bolding proclaiming that you are X isn’t either. But honestly, you are also you. But I suppose if you’re stating your lineage, you’re also probably not standing in the country you’re claiming.
Huh. Interesting thought. Let’s break for a second and look into that crevice. Perhaps that’s why the “from” happens over there. In the states, we have two borders. In Europe, they have many more. Here you’re either American or look like it. Or you’re on the other side of a wall. It’s almost an assurance you’re standing on US soil when you proclaim loyalty to a combination of countries. And over there … you probably aren’t. But I digress.
Perhaps my mindset is different. I don’t feel fealty towards a land made up of a dotted line that can change at any moment. Yes, I was raised in a certain culture and there are some very great things about it. But that can be said about any culture. It shouldn’t be a contest in my mind. And if I’m standing elsewhere on another continent, it’s because I want to learn more about those other cultures. So the long statement should really be … “I’m originally from the United States, but I have been in many places and experienced many cultures, and now I’m very interested in learning more about the one here”.
Or maybe just “I’m from the US”. Sometimes words matter I suppose.
Speaking of words, they also say “Ausfahrt” over in Germany … and it doesn’t mean what I want it to mean. LOL!