Are You Proud of Where You’re From?

I’m from Indiana. And before you start assuming that we’re all bunch of corn-fed, down-home hicks, let me just tell you’re wrong. Flat-out wrong. I’m proud to be a Hoosier. We’re number in basketball. We’re damn nice people. And we know how to react when it snows.

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Growing up, everybody wanted to get “out” of Indiana, to travel far away for college, to leave behind what we saw as boring, as nothing, as not worth knowing. Growing up, we were naïve. Far too good we had it, back in my hometown, with teachers who cared, basketball games on Friday nights, and after-school jobs at the local ice cream shop. We grew up in a slice of americana, if you will. Not everyone shares my experience, but a lot of us do. It was a blessed, innocent time in our lives.

So we left. We spread out. Some of us stayed home, some of us left for college around the country, some of us dreamed of leaving but couldn’t. Some of us studied abroad; some of us never came back. But those of us who left have a unique perspective. We know what it’s like to be the foreigner, the different one. We know how it is to defend one’s country, one’s state. Because of this, many of us become (absurdly?) prouder of our home, of our families, of our way of life.

I’m proud to be from Indiana.

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In Spain, I’m the American. I’m the one people question when something absurd has happened with our government, when there is a shooting for the umpteenth time, when there is a snowstorm … I represent the States for many of my husband’s family members. It’s a bit like being an ambassador, except the pay is kind of crappy and you don’t get invited to any VIP parties.

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There are bad things about the US. But living abroad teaches me to remember the good, to hold it close and cherish it. There are small things I love: smiles on the street, free refills, basketball, tailgating, skyscrapers, tator tots (what?), music. There are the big things: resilience, entrepreneurship, Title IX, universities, the first amendment, natural beauty, diversity, generosity.

I’m proud to be from the US.

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In Spain, my adopted home is Zamora. Zamora is beautiful, quiet, full of Romanesque treasures. It’s situated on the Duero River, which is the heart of the city.

Ha sido y es la memoria, la fuerza a veces incontrolada de sus avenidas que todo lo arrasa, los juegos, las aventuras, los amores… la barca y el barquero.
De él llega la niebla, pero también el aliento, esa luz especial relacionada con la vida y el movimiento, que en diálogo con la estática urbe da forma a ese tiempo interno, elíptico de la ciudad, y el aire para respirar y las aves, y los colores.
Él fue la energía que movió el comercio y la industria harinera y a través de él llegan las estaciones, las noticias o las historias ya desarrolladas porque el Duero en Zamora es ya Don.

Zamora, according to Henry IV, was (and is!) a “most noble and most loyal city.”

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I’m proud to be an adopted zamorana. And I know many of my husband’s family are proud to be from Zamora.

As proud as I am to be an American, I don’t see that pride from Spaniards about their country. Oh sure, get them talking about their food or their region or their local traditions … they’ll talk your ear off? But Spain in general. You might just hear crickets!

I’m not criticizing. At all. It’s a phenomenon I think that many of we foreigners have noticed. There’s not point in blind patriotism, but the lack of it altogether sometimes bewilders me.

Do you notice more local/regional pride in your part of Spain? Do you have an adopted region?

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37 comments

  1. Definitely feel the regional pride here in Galicia– sometimes I even forget I’m in Spain! Not a bad thing, but I can relate, as sometimes in my mind my home, Oregon, is separate from the rest of the country.

  2. Totally cracked up about the line about being an ambassador sans VIP privileges! Totally agree on that one. Although sometimes I find it really frustrating to always have to represent America … sometimes I just want to be me and not speak for an entire country that has so many different people, values, cultures. But then again I, too, have never felt prouder of being an American than when I’m abroad.

  3. such an interesting question and post. for me, it’s hard to say I’m proud of where I’m “from”. I was born in Illinois, moved to California when I was 9 and “grew up” there. so, if anywhere is home I guess it’s CA? but it never felt like “home” to me. I moved to Minnesota almost 21 years ago but do I call this home? It is for now. But proud to be a Minnesotan? Not necessarily.

    Wait, Spain doesn’t have tater tots??? That’s it, I’m staying here!! :D I always thought the Spanish were proud of their country but I don’t recall any conversations in particular regarding it, just a sense I had both when I lived in Madrid and visiting in recent years. That kind of shocks me, but you would know better than I. muy interesante. Proud of being an American? I guess, but in 7 or so years, there won’t be much to hold me here and I’ll be ready for a new adventure ;)

  4. So, full disclosure: I was born in Indiana, and get rightfully offended when one of my friends from St. Louis refers to “white trash”-type people as “Hoosiers” or something as “so Hoozh.” I was shocked when I learned about that regionalism in college.

    BUT I’ve lived in Texas all my life and, while I’m not your stereotypical “SECEDE!” type of guy, I have a healthy amount of pride for my home state. To be honest, I was pretty relieved to get out of the place this fall when moving to Spain; the reactionary conservatism and urban sprawl were really starting to get to me. But a few weeks ago I read this BuzzFeed article about why Texas is basically utopia (hehe) and it made me miss Texas sooo much . It was a good reminder that Texas will always be home, regardless of whether I end up moving to Spain permanently or not (who knows?).

    Whenever Spaniards find out I’m from Texas they ALWAYS do some kind of lasso motion or reference cowboys, which makes me laugh but I quickly reply that I’m “de la ciudad” :P

    1. Haha, I can just imagine the reactions you get! Most Spaniards don’t know anything about Indiana, but don’t worry — I let ‘em know. They usually just say something like “Indiana … Indiana Jones!” Sigh.

  5. Love this post! Its so true..I think I was like ‘eh proud’ of where I’m from before I traveled but then after traveling and meeting more people from other countries and backgrounds and growing up I’m definitely legitimately very proud of where I’m from in many ways.

    I’m happy you have an adopted ‘home’ in Spain. =)

    Also, I really love that picture of Mario and the flag!

  6. I think Spaniards are more united right now thanks to sports where there have been wins and medals and stuff. But I’m a Spaniard and I can tell you I am SO SICK of stereotypes when I go abroad and even when I move out of Andalusía. I am proud of all the goods things that have happened in my country and the rich culture we COULD HAVE nowadays… but unfortunately it is all so blurry and useless because people in Spain don’t care about it anymore! I always try to focus on the good things that happened in the Peninsula (not Spain in itself) along the centuries, I’m happy I was born in such a rich and wonderful land. BUT NOW? I’m ashamed to say I’m from Spain… really. And I know it’s sad but I’m ashamed of the politics and the economy and that’s the reason I don’t watch the news anymore.

      1. Haha no problem! I understand what you mean. There are moments when it’s hard to be patriotic and I feel like Spain is going through a rather dim period right now re: public figures, politic(ian)s, and the economy in general.

  7. I’m proud of where I’m from too and I have listened to people speak negatively about my city, Ottawa, without knowing I’m from there. I never used to be patriotic about my city, but after living 10+ years abroad, I defend it and am quite hurt when I hear that someone didn’t like my city. There are a lot of great things about my city that people don’t realize, things that people from Ottawa themselves take for granted.

    1. No one ever visits my city … so I don’t have to worry about that.

      And yeah, there are so many things that people take for granted in, say, Bloomington (my college town) that make me so happy when I return!

  8. Actually, living abroad has pretty much eliminated any sense of location-based pride I had haha. It’s hard for me to identify with one single place and say I’m definitely ‘from’ there. I don’t feel any shame about it, but it’s just never felt that important to me.

    It’s interesting that you don’t get much Spanish pride in the places you’ve lived. The Catalans are very, very proud of NOT being Spanish. And I think the Andaluzes are quite proud of their culture too, from my experiences there.

    1. I suppose what I mean is I see the Catalans being proud of being Catalan; the Sevillanos being proud of being Sevillano and Andaluz, etc. More of that sort of pride than general Spanish pride.

  9. I am from Boston and while I wouldn’t say I am “proud” of that, I do self-identify pretty strongly as a New Englander. I did not appreciate the beauty and special attributes of New England until I traveled to other parts of the United States (and world).

    My adopted Spanish region is Galicia, for sure. I love the climate, the cities and towns, the moss and rain – the whole thing. Maybe it’s my Celtic ancestry (I’m Irish Catholic). :-)

  10. Love this post. It’s especially interesting since I was already born into a multicultural situation so I never know exactly where I am taking my pride from.
    While I’ve definitely encountered frustrating situations in which foreigners would randomly engage me in a debate about the morality of the American government, this sort of generalization and treatment of one citizen as an ambassador of her country goes both ways. The exchange students on campus often feel as if they must speak for their entire country. It’s a cognitive thing, I guess, it helps us organize our thoughts about said culture. As long as we remember to remain open-minded!
    That region vs. country pride though, I see that a lot (in Spaniards and non-Spaniards alike). Even I have that divide to an extent, because I find I am more likely to describe myself as “Californian” rather than “American.” For me, it may be about feeling like I have a little more say in things that go on in the state, but national issues are out of reach.

    1. I’m from Greece so right now there’s not much to be proud about :) Just wanted to drop by and say great blog! I look forward to reading more about your experiences in lovely Spain!

  11. I’m very proud to be from Wisconsin, but I’m not a Wisconsin basketball fan so don’t worry. I actually prefer Marquette, so I don’t like Tom Crean…sorry. Anyways, when I was studying in Spain people asked me questions as if I knew everything about the U.S. Sometimes it was annoying and other times funny. Unfortunately none of them knew where Wisconsin was. I had to say north of Chicago, but south of Canada which usually got me a “yeah, I kind of know what you mean response.” It’s too bad they don’t have Miller in Spain otherwise it would be a much more simple connection. I really enjoy your blog!

  12. Well, I’m from Georgia (the country, not the state in the US) but I live in the U.S. (up North) and I traveled to Spain some time ago, stayed there for quite a bit, and mainly interacted with Spaniards. The ambassador thing is so true! They would ask me specific questions like “what’s the average salary for a Georgian?”. How am I supposed to know?! Depends on the job, doesn’t it?

    It’s funny because before going to Spain I thought all Europeans were happy, nice, polite, and didn’t have a care in the world. That Europe was the best place to live and Euro men made great husbands/boyfriends (Eastern Euro stereotype of Western Europe). While I was there, though, I realized just how *Georgian* I was, and to be honest I loved it. And the Euro men aren’t all respectful/nice like I thought. Living over there also made me miss how big and close-knit Georgian families can be, even if it means no privacy and overprotective male relatives. I loved Spain, but I love my culture too. And boo to those expats who always put down their home country – no one likes you.

  13. When I strike up a conversation about Spain in class with my students I often find that they are proud to say where they’re Granadino, but they are quick to judge other cities, like Jaen and Almeria. “Son fea!” they tell me. “Have you been there?” I ask. “No hay razon. No hay nada a ver”. Or something like that. Not saying that that that attitude counts for everybody, but there’s definitely a strong sense of chauvinism in Granada…

  14. A few people ask where I’m from (and I tell them Mississippi) and they don’t raise an eyebrow not that I think they would but you just never know what reaction you will get from people. A few times, they reference blues/soul music and I don’t know why this surprises me a bit but I love that they acknowledge the influential music that was born in the state and not the other stuff…so yeah. Good post by the way.

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