Why it doesn’t matter where I’m from

Lau Ciocan
Change Becomes You
Published in
2 min readNov 1, 2023


Bogdan Vlad Unsplash

‘Where are you from?’ is a question I get asked frequently here in London, sometimes a few times a week. I can’t fail to notice that this has happened only in the past few years. Before the UK left the EU, I have to say I enjoyed that almost no one cared to ask me this question.

For me, it’s not about the question as such, but rather the question’s implied subtext — it’s clear you’re not from around here (the UK). Even if the person asking the question is not aware of how it can come across, it already creates the invisible divide of ‘us’ and ‘you’. It can make one feel like an ‘other’. It certainly makes me feel like one.

It’s not the same as asking a British person with a Northern accent where they’re from because the subtext implies they’re British.

From the many times I’ve been asked the question, two stories stand out.

A few months ago, at a party, I was introduced to an acquaintance’s fiance. After she ‘popped the question’, she followed up with, ‘Oh, so you came here for more opportunities.’ And the honest answer is ‘not really’.

The second story is even more cringe and slightly longer.

In January, after a brief trip to my home city, I was at the airport waiting to embark on my return flight to London. As the flight was delayed, two strangers started to make small talk with me about the delay. A Romanian and a Brit.

While chatting, I organically shared that I’m Romanian as well. After a few good minutes into the conversation, the Brit asked me, ‘So where are you really from?’. I asked them, ‘What do you mean?’ they said I have an ‘Arabic outlook’ due to my beard. I reassured them I’m born and raised here, and the conversation stopped there for me.

The lack of ‘awareness’ to ask me in my home city, ‘Where are you really from?’ is mindblowing, to say the least.

Not everyone who asks me the question comes across like this. Some people are genuinely interested in getting to know me, and I can tell by how they’re asking the question. But some just create distance and animosity with the question.

I’m sharing all this to raise awareness of how a trivial question can make some people feel. Next time, when you want to ask somebody this question, think if you could maybe reframe it or perhaps not ask the question at all.

Now, let me tell you where I’m from.

From a city listed as the world’s greatest places to visit in 2023 by Time Magazine — Timisoara, Romania: World’s Greatest Places 2023 | TIME 🇷🇴



Lau Ciocan
Change Becomes You

Founder of MAN - a shortlisted platform for the 'Best Men's Health Initiative' promoting healthy masculinities & men's mental health. manmentoring.org.uk