I *always* ask people where they are from, especially when I first meet them. It is a way I relate to people: “Oh you’re from Paris? I was there the summer after my freshman year in high school. What a beautiful city!” It’s not that I’m reducing them to where they’re from, I just love meeting people from different parts of the world and finding out how other people live their lives.
In general, people are just curious about people that are unfamiliar or different from what they know. The beauty of conversation is we have the opportunity to ask and make that person not-so-unfamiliar.
Even when people ask me where my last name is from, its not because they hate Polish last names and they can’t wait to ostracize me, its because they’re curious. Drenzek is a far cry from the common names like Johnson and Smith in the U.S. and they want to know more.
Marie, judging by your picture, you are absolutely “exotic” to me, but that isn’t a bad adjective unless you make it one. If I ever met you, I would likely ask you the exact same question because you are a type of beautiful I have never seen before, not because I don’t like you.