Her Country Was a Poor Relation

When meeting new people my boyfriend and I are often asked where we’re from, and it always follows the same scenario. It goes like that:

Stranger: Where are you from guys?

Me: I’m from Latvia.

Stranger: Ah, okay… *looking bored

My bf: I’m from Spain.

Stranger: Oh, really? *looking interested, the tone of voice changes from boringly polite to overly excited. Whereabouts?

My bf: Barcelona

Stranger: Awww! Barcelona! I love this city. It’s so beautiful and warm! *then followed by a 10 minutes conversation about Barcelona and its beauty.

As much as we agree on the fact that Barcelona is a wonderful city, both of us are tired from inevitable predictability of people’s reaction. My bf is annoyed that he has to do the same small talk over and over again, and I will not lie, it does upset me that people react in such a disinterested manner about my dear motherland (even though, I grew up in a Russian family).

So, why does it happen the way it does, and is it only Latvia we are here to consider? There are plenty of other not-so-popular countries that are being treated with a ‘meh’ response.  I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and came up with three possible answers.

Ignorance

cold

“Latvia…. I think I heard something about it in the history books. Is it in Europe?”

I am deeply bothered to point it out, but some people simply don’t know that this country actually exists, and if they do, then most probably wouldn’t be able to locate it on the map. They’ve never been there, don’t know much about its history and culture, and, therefore, are not that eager to talk about it. It’s true, Latvian history is boring – there were no crusaders, witchhunt, and magic fairies. Only ‘evil Russians’ occupying the territory.

Cold

car

“Oh, is it that very very cold country with polar bears, and castles of ice?”

This is subconscious. We normally take interest in countries we can go on holidays to, enjoy the sun, drink chilly mojitos, and forget about the world and its problems. Latvia. Brrrr! Cold. Few people know it’s actually quite hot there in Summer, and there is a seaside resort, and delicious food, and cool stuff, etc… Never mind!

Money

Image

Living in the UK when you come from Latvia (Poland, Belarus, whatever), is a bit like when a poor cousin is attending a posh dinner at his rich family’s. Everyone is looking down on you. Isn’t it so? When the leader of UKIP Nigel Farage, famous for his radical views on immigration, was asked whose job was his German wife taking, he said, “Nobody else could do that job.” What’s up with the double standards? Why is a German better than a Romanian? Both of them come from the EU. The answer is plain and simple. Money.

sexygirlsIt is no secret that German economy is one of the strongest in Europe. Romania, or Latvia in this instance are not doing so great. Sometimes ignorance and cold are not the only reason people are not interested in your origin. There is a number of those who are just eager to find out if you are someone important, and when they hear/think you’re not, they just brush you off like a piece of garbage. Well, guess what? Not all the Latvians/Romanians are coming here to work in the factory or as cab drivers, and actually there is no shame in that either. Every year there are more and more high-quality professionals, people with MBAs, doctors, IT-specialists, translators etc., who are growing the economy. So, suck it up!

All in all, I would like to say that despite all this crap that is going our way, there are still very nice people around. Not so long ago I’ve been chatting to a Polish girl that grew up in the UK. She’s got a perfect British pronunciation, and you’d never guess she wasn’t British. I mentioned something about how I was trying to work on my accent, and she said, “Why so? Your accent is a part of who you are. I am proud to be Polish, and you should be proud of your origin.” It dawned on me that she was right. Pride is a strong word, but there is no other suitable term to describe it. I am proud of my origin, even though it’s not that straightforward, because it made me who I am now. I think everyone should be!

Riga

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Comments
One Response to “Her Country Was a Poor Relation”
  1. vilks12 says:

    As usual 🙂 very good and actual photos !

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