Portrait of Karolina Poloca in India

Having (no) country

This post is about the thought that I constantly have when I travel: it is about me having no country. Have you ever thought about it? Leave a comment at the button of this page!

Where am I from?

‘Where are you from?’ – it seems like the simplest question in the world, however when I get this question, my brain starts to work on a few things, before I can answer.

First, I’m analyzing my conversation partner. I am trying to figure it out if he or she is really interested in my answer or if this is just a standard small talk question. And second, I’m making sure, if I have enough time to answer. 

In most cases, this is just a small talk question and the person has no real interest, or there is no time for my answer. Therefore I say: ‘I am from Poland’. As a result I usually hear ‘aha, okay’ and then the topic is done.
But sometimes my quick judgment was wrong. Sometimes, after I gave a quick response that I come from Poland I hear: ‘oh, how is Poland?’

And this is killing me. I mean, it is killing my ‘I always know what to say’- flow. Coz then I’m like: ‘yy, I don’t know – I haven’t lived in Poland for the last 15 years’.

‘The simplest questions are the most profound. Where were you born? Where is your home? Where are you going? What are you doing? Think about these once in a while, and watch your answers change’

Richard Bach in “Illusions”
Karolina Poloca wearing brown dress, gazing toward the horizon, surrounded by dry mountains in the country called India
India, 2019

I am a foreigner – always and everywhere

I was born and raised in Poland. My parents and grandparents are Polish. I went to school in Poland. My first language is Polish. My passport is Polish. Even my first boyfriend was Polish. However, as I was 15 years old, I moved to Austria, for the reason that my mom got a better job there. I learned German, I went to university there and I worked there. Consequently, I lived in Austria for almost the other half of my life. And I considered Vienna for many years as my home town.

Even so, I have always been a foreigner in Austria. You could notice it in the way I talk, in the way I dress, in the way I think. Still, one day I noticed also another thing – which made me reflect on my motherland in a new way: When I visit Poland, I noticed that I’m also a foreigner there. I don’t speak, I don’t act, I don’t dress, I don’t think like Polish. 

Karolina Poloca laughing while sitting on a stone, surrounded by mountains, in the country called India
India, 2019

I have no country

And there is an extra complication in the whole situation: I really like hot countries, it is where I feel the best. And neither Poland or Austria can offer me that.

Therefore, am I Polish? Or am I half Polish? Or how many percent should I give myself for being Polish? But in the end, I can tell one thing (for now): I have no country, my country is the whole world.

One Comment

  • Marcin

    Hi Karolina,
    so many times I have the same question in my mind… similar to you, I left my mother country (Poland) 16 years ago since then I have lived in 3 other countries. Because of that, I started to call myself European, as this is the closest of how geographically I can think of my mixture.
    I feel everywhere at home, at the same always being foreigner whenever I go. Its complex, and beautiful because it makes us unique.

    Countries, nationalities, borders, privileges and everything which goes with it…. I think its all made to divide rather than unite people.


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