This is the number one question that I get from people that I meet for the first time. When I first came to Norway, I did not mind people asking me questions. I understand that some people are just curious types. I do not talk too much to people that I just met. In short, I am a shy type person but I can be really talkative, depends on my mood and the topic. However, I did get tired of this questioning every time that I meet new people here. Why do they ask? Do I look like and alien? Is there something wrong with my Norwegian?
Aside from this question, I do get a lot of how long have I been living here in Norway. In the beginning I felt like I was being interrogated. So, as much as possible I tried avoiding eye contact with people by the bus stop, cafes and restaurants. However, there were times that it was impossible for me to avoid any conversations with strangers. Like for instance when I was waiting for the bus, a man came to me and asked for the time. When I answered him, he asked me where I came from and if I am living here in Norway for a long time now. I think he just used the time as an excuse to talk to me. I told him that I am from the Philippines and been living here for more than a decade now. Then he told me that I do not look like from the Philippines. He thought that I am from Japan or China because of the color of my skin (which is unfortunately pale or yellowish). He also thought that I am adopted because according to him I speak Norwegian fluently. I started to get uneasy and irritated because he started telling me about how lucky I am to be able to live and get an education in Norway and be able to escape poverty and terror in the Philippines. It made me want to run away from him. But I did not. In fact, I sat beside him on the bus just to educate him about the Philippines. Haha! Oh yes, I am Philippines’ newest ambassadress!
Eventually, I started to realize that when Norwegians ask me where I came from, it is because a lot of them are not used to seeing foreigners or other races in the area. Though they travel a lot, *”they can feel like a child in an unknown woods, away from their parents and grandparents. And sometimes they get a feeling that a Filipina like me or other foreigners will try to fool and rob them” (*An excerpt from Odd Børrentzen’s book: Hvordan forstå og bruke en Nordmann.). They do not mean to be rude. They only need answers and some of them only want to talk.
One Comment Add yours
I understand what you mean! A lot of people get confused because I am from India but “don’t sound Indian”, and so I often get asked where I’m from 😅 It’s easy to get annoyed but yeah, like you said, most people are just curious. And it’s a good opportunity to educate people who say things like “But you speak English (or Norwegian, in your case) so well!”