Reasons Why The Question “Where Are You From?” Is Offensive. And Not Offensive

Time and time again, some of us get the question, “Where are you from?” We might dislike this question, or we might not. It’s a matter of perspective, or rather how we’re feeling in a moment in time that we decide if we like or hate the question there and then.

Chances are if we’re migrants, immigrants, refugees, third culture kids, expats or find ourselves part of a cultural minority community (think an Asian Australian in Australia, an Asian American in the States, we’re much more likely to hear the question. So too if we’re some place where our skin colour, accent or hair style sticks out from the rest.

Sometimes when someone asks where we come from, we feel small | Weekly Photo Challenge: Tiny.

Sometimes when someone asks where we come from, we feel small | Weekly Photo Challenge: Tiny.

A while back I wrote a blog post on the different answers to this question. It’s a question carrying quite a few assumptions, a question I’ve been asked all my life as an Australian-born Chinese living in different countries such as Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. Sometimes it rubs me the wrong way. Sometimes it amuses me.

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Chinese Dining Etiquette: Table Manners And The Polite Art Of Eating

When it comes to eating in Chinese culture, there are quite a few dining etiquette rules one should be mindful of. It could be eating with a Chinese family at a boisterous Chinese banquet. Or it could be a more casual dining affair with Chinese colleagues from China over business lunch.

Coming from a stereotypical Chinese-Malaysian family, these Chinese eating customs surrounded me all my life. I’ve always found them odd to be honest, but always found myself sticking by them.

Strict table manners can sometimes make us feel on the sidelines. Chinese pasta | Weekly Photo Challenge: Edge.

Strict table manners can sometimes make us feel on the sidelines. Chinese pasta | Weekly Photo Challenge: Edge.

Eating around Chinese people with a traditional mindset is arguably an art in itself. More precisely, this tends to entail watching the way one behaves before and during meals together.

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Australia: Common Stereotypes That Are So Not True. And So True

There are many stereotypes about the land of Australia. Whether you have lived in, visited or heard of Australia, chances are you’ve come across typical perceptions of Australia in the geographic sense – and come across Australians agreeing with them. And disagreeing with them as well.

Having lived in Australia for a while now, I’ve noticed some things are always predictable about this 7.692 million km2 patch of land called Down Under. At times its surrounds surprise me when I least expect it, and sometimes it doesn’t.

Stereotypes are unique to each and every country. Regional Victoria | Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare.

Stereotypes are unique to each and every country. Regional Victoria | Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare.

Some of the stereotypes you may know, and some you may have vaguely heard about in passing. Some of these stereotypes about this continent south of the equator also known as Oz include:

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Your Dreams Vs. Unsupportive Asian Parents: Finding Your Way

We all have passions and dreams, which our parents might not always agree with. In a stereotypical Asian family, artistic and creative dreams tend to be frowned upon, and we might have second thoughts about chasing them.

Writing is something I love. Seven year old me rushed home after school and wrote fictional adventure stories in my bedroom, and loved writing essays for English classes. These days after work, I write for this blog and work on my first book. But for as long as I can remember, my Chinese-Malaysian parents have never been keen on me spending time writing.

Sometimes the road to our dreams is a hard one. Kurt Hugo Schneider & Sam Tsui, 2016 | Weekly Photo Challenge: Narrow.

Sometimes the road to our dreams is a hard one. Kurt Hugo Schneider & Sam Tsui, 2016 | Weekly Photo Challenge: Narrow.

One can say Asian parents are harsh and narrow-minded when they rather their kids pursue one dream over the other. Others might say Asian parents are simply looking out for us.

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Swearing And Cursing In Chinese And Cantonese: The Profanities We Say, And Why

Swearing in Chinese culture is always a colourful affair. Some vulgar, curse words in both Chinese language and Cantonese dialect get straight to the point, while others are more subtle and rather hilarious.

When I was growing up, my parents threatened to slap my palm with a ruler if they heard me uttering a profanity in English (my first language), Chinese or Cantonese. Being the timid kid that I was, I never did. The years went by and today this is no longer true: I’m not anti-swearing and admittedly curse every now and then.

Some of us might find swearing and everything vulgar intimidating, and curse words make us feel small| Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Up.

Some of us might find swearing and everything vulgar intimidating, and curse words make us feel small| Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Up.

Swear words are said for certain reasons in certain situations at certain times. Quite a few of them in Chinese and Cantonese may seem confusing at first but breaking them down word by word, they translate into nothing really complicated and the meaning behind them is simple.

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