3 Unexpected Things I Learned From Trying AncestryDNA®—Here's Why You Should Too

When I tried AncestryDNA®, I knew I was going to learn more about myself and my family history but I also learned a few exciting things I was totally unprepared for. Read my honest review now. P.S. Don't miss out on this special offer—AncestryDNA® is currently on sale for $59 (that's a savings of $40)!

Lesson #1: My Family History Wasn't What I Thought

Growing up, I had always assumed I was mainly of Germanic descent: I had heard stories about German great-great-relatives immigrating and settling not far from where my family is spread out now in Wisconsin. As I got older, talk of English ancestors from both my mom and my dad's side of the family was thrown into the mix, too, but I didn't have the faintest idea exactly what my genetic makeup was before trying AncestryDNA®—and when the results came in I was shocked.

Contrary to my previous beliefs, a large chunk of my heritage is actually from England, Wales and Northwestern Europe: 72 percent to be exact. Add in my 17 percent genetic match from nearby Ireland and Scotland, and 89 percent of my ethnicity can be traced back to the UK and its neighbors. I'm no math expert, but that's a much higher number than I ever expected it to be.

Lesson learned: Sometimes family histories can get jumbled and mixed up, and using AncestryDNA® may help you learn new things about your family and their roots.

Lesson #2: My Family History Suddenly Makes More Sense

Not only did I learn that my family comes from mainly England, Wales, Northwestern Europe, Ireland, and Scotland, but I also learned about the very specific region my ancestors called home. In the south of England lies Devon and Cornwall, and within the area is a town called Kerrier, a community of farmers, fishermen, and miners that eventually emigrated to America during the Industrial Revolution. To my surprise, many of them moved specifically to Mineral Point, Wisconsin—a town smack dab in the center of the map between my hometown and my grandparents' hometown. It's a town I drive through every time I go home to visit my parents—and little did I know, it's likely the place where my ancestors got their start in America.

I knew that both sides of my family had a farming history in southern Wisconsin, but I never really gave much thought to how it began. Did this heritage start with the Cornish farmers who came over to create a prosperous community and forge better lives for their families? It seems so. This is a possibility I never would've encountered if not for AncestryDNA®.

Lesson learned: AncestryDNA® doesn't just tell you where your ancestors came from, it also tells you where they went—and how it relates to your life today.

Lesson #3: I Have a New Heritage to Celebrate

Like many twenty-somethings with too much time on my hands, I'm an avid fan of The Great British Baking Show. I spend every Saturday and Sunday morning watching the mild-mannered contestants show off their skills by cooking delicious and traditional British dishes—and now, the show has taken on a whole new meaning to me. I'm now keeping my eyes out for Cornish Meat Pastries and Saffron Cakes, two dishes Ancestry® told me were staples of my ancestors from Cornwall

I've always enjoyed joining in on my family's specific traditions, like watching National Lampoon movies every Christmas and passing a vintage telephone between family members as a gag gift, but I'd never really given much thought to our broader heritage outside of that. Now that I know about my extended family history, I'm excited to explore a culture I never even knew I could stake a claim to. I'm excited to learn about Cornish traditions, celebrations, and traditional cuisine (yes, even those unappetizing-sounding meat cakes). My AncestryDNA® results also showed me I'm part French and Swedish—two wildly unexpected results that I'm equally excited to explore. If I start walking around wearing a French beret and eating Swedish lingonberries, now you know why— and now that I think about it, my deep love for ABBA makes perfect sense.

Lesson learned: AncestryDNA® helps you get in touch with your roots and your culture.

Final Takeaways

AncestryDNA® taught me so much about myself and my heritage. While it's incredibly fun to learn my own personal history and my genetic makeup, AncestryDNA® is also a useful tool for meeting extended family members. In addition to having a deeper understanding of my family's history and emigration journey, Ancestry® also gives me the ability to connect with other opted-in database members who are probably related to me because they share bits of identical DNA. I can now find and connect with new relatives, creating bonds I wasn't even aware were possible. If you're looking to learn more about yourself, your family, your genetic makeup and your heritage, AncestryDNA® is an absolutely incredible way to do it.

Bonus: Ancestry® Recently Launched AncestryHealth®!

Learn from your genes so you can take action for your family. With new AncestryHealth®, you can now discover: how your DNA may influence conditions that could be passed down in your family, what may be ahead for your health, and the steps you could take to chart a healthier path forward.

Disclaimer: The tests offered by AncestryHealth® are physician-ordered and are not diagnostic. The tests are not reviewed or approved by the FDA and are not available in NY, NJ, and RI. See Ancestry.com for additional details.