I’m a Swermanese?!

My core subject is Global Migration Stories with two 1h-lectures and one 1h-tutorial per week. It’s great to be able to choose subjects and create your personal timetable; however, it’s complicated and you have to make sure that a) they are available for this semester and b) they are not clashing with each other (Note: I had to change twice!). Examining historical processes shaping migration is extremely interesting and it’s really rewarding to study with both Australian and international students having multiple nationalities.

Believe it or not, but I am slightly looking forward to the final exam of this subject – not because it’s being the final one (…), but rather because we are going to do some research and explore our own family migration story. From my experience, I can say that the more you have travelled and lived in different countries or continents, it makes you more aware where you are actually from or makes you think about your origin and even question it. I like to devote myself to the question about identity: how do we perceive ourselves in different environments, outside our comfort zone?

To be honest, I am always struggling to find the right answer to the very simple question “Where are you from?” (especially during Orientation Week, I wish I could’ve recorded this – it wouldn’t have been easier, but at least it would’ve saved some time).

“Hi, I am Hany, I was born and raised in Germany to Vietnamese parents, but I’m student from Sweden, now spending one semester in Australia.” And if I’d like to stand out even a little more, I’d add “Oh, and I have lived in France for a while, too.”, but you shouldn’t overexaggerate, I reckon. However, …

Germans wouldn’t guess that I’m German. Why? I don’t look like a German, but I’m familiar with the culture, I do speak the language (without any dialect thanks to Hanover’s cleanest German) and I do like beer.

Vietnamese wouldn’t guess that I’m Vietnamese either. Why? Apparently, I don’t look like a Vietnamese either. People – no matter where from – have been wildly guessing through a variety of countries and failed to find the right one. And with wildly guessing I’d like to recite someone: “Hum, you look like a Hawaiian girl to me, maybe with some Native American origins, but on the other hand, you seem quite European.” … I don’t know what to say.

Swedes wouldn’t guess… well, ok. You got my point.

In my view, I reckon that after having travelled and/or lived in new places, I usually pick those traits that characterise this specific place and make it to my own personal benefit; thereby, I feel like I’m growing personally and it feels good to learn from foreign cultures.

Let’s wait until the end of the semester and I’ll let you know what I’m going to gather from my Australian life!



About Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Don't ask me where I'm from. Ask me where I'm heading.
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3 Responses to I’m a Swermanese?!

  1. Gianni says:

    wow, very inspiring blog entry!!!

  2. Ruth-Eva Matahelumal says:

    Hey Hany,

    I’ve read your blogpost with pleasure. Mainly because I can recognise myself in it. I’m Dutch, but from pacific heritage. Since there are a lot of people from the pacific region attending JCU, I get stared at a lot. Because I look pacific but on the same time not and when I also have to explain that I’m actually Dutch, it leads to funny conversations!

    Anyways good luck with your exchange!

  3. hoangtranhieuhanh says:

    Great to hear that others can easily identify with the blog entry, too! It’s astonishing how multiple cultures enrich our today’s life!

    Yesterday, I had to deceive hopes of a Brazilian who mistakened me for a girl he had met in São Paulo who was half-Brazilian and half-Japanese (there were many Japanese migrants coming to São Paolo in the early 1900s). Would’ve been a very random encounter, but not that surprising for this tiny little planet, I reckon. The funny thing is that I could even respond in Portuguese, so he was struggling with believing me that I was definitely not that girl he met (even though I have been travelling through Brazil during that time!).

    Anyways, let me quote my friend from France who I met in Norway and is now living in South Korea:

    “I would say that no matter where you are from, we are all citizens of the world, there are no borders for travellers. Even though I’m French, I feel like I’m a melting pot of many different cultures.”

    Cheers to the BORDER CROSSINGS Project!

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