Testing My DNA & Family History
Where do you think you come from? I’ve always been curious about my ancestry, so I decided to take one of those home DNA tests. The results were fascinating.
Like me, I’m sure your family has told you stories passed down from generation to generation. Stories about your heritage, culture, and ancestry. The more we know about ourselves and our family’s past – the more our personal identity evolves.
For me, the stories included family members immigrating from Ireland and Poland looking for a better life in the United States. But these tales are sometimes vague and incomplete after being passed down from person to person, like a childhood game of telephone.
How much is true? How much is being left out? This is where genealogy research and modern DNA technology can give you a more accurate picture of where you really come from. Sometimes, there are surprises…
Testing Your DNA
Home DNA testing is becoming easier and more affordable than ever before. Companies like AncestryDNA can give you results in a matter of weeks, while also comparing your DNA with 1.5 million members, possibly introducing you to relatives you didn’t know you had.
It’s fascinating technology. For under $100, this home DNA test looks at a person’s entire genome from more than 700,000 locations via a sample of saliva to predict your genetic ethnicity.
I received my DNA testing kit in the mail and followed the simple instructions. Basically, you spit into a plastic vial until your saliva reaches a black mark.
Next, you twist on a cap that releases a special DNA stabilizing liquid into the sample. Write down your tracking number, put your vial into a pre-paid box and mail it off to the lab. Easy and fast.
Test results normally take about 6-8 weeks to process. When they’re ready, you receive an email notification with a link to your password protected account, where you can view your ethnicity map and see where your ancestors came from.
My Ethnicity Map
What Were My Results?
After listening to family stories for years, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what the test would say. But actually seeing my DNA results for the first time was still thrilling…
- 40% Irish
- 36% Eastern Europe
- 14% Scandinavian
- 8% European Trace Regions
- 2% West Asia
I knew my family’s strongest roots were based in Ireland and Poland. My Grandmother was born in Ireland and sailed to the United States when she was only 17. My Great Grandfather fled Poland when he was 16 after both his parents were murdered.
However there was a surprise too. Like the 2% West Asian DNA. I also thought I’d have more West European roots, due to my German last name Karsten. But it seems I’m actually more Scandinavian than German!
Interesting, as I’ve been traveling to Sweden and Norway lately and enjoying it very much. Maybe it’s viking blood coursing through my veins that keeps me returning to photograph the landscapes of Scandinavia?
The information has broadened the way I think about my identity. It’s opened my world a little more. Even though I knew about my Polish heritage, the test results have reinforced my desire to visit Poland later this year.
Last year I traveled to Ireland with my parents and sister on a family genealogy road trip, visiting the hometown of my Grandmother and meeting Irish relatives for the first time.
It was an amazing trip and bonding experience. Since then, we’ve been having fun filling out our family tree information to get a better overall picture of our family heritage & history.
READ NEXT: 33 Cool Travel Jobs For Travel Addicts
This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.