A Sense Of Direction

I was never too good at geography. One of the things I do when I’m flying from Chicago to Saint Louis, is guessing the different states of the United States by the last page of their in-flight magazine (helped by the abbreviations). I might get better at it, but I wouldn’t know really. I don’t fly enough to really succeed. In my own country, I don’t travel all that much, but when I meet somebody new, there’s always the same guessing game.

‘Where are you from?’
– ‘(Inserts small town nowhere near a city I know).’
‘What’s the closest city?’
-‘(City that still is really small and not helping).’
‘I give up. Is it north, west, south or east from here?’

Driving around in the US, I noticed how the size of the country changes the sense of directions as well. Saint Louis uses four different directions and orientation points (I believe): Chicago, Kansas City, Indianapolis and Memphis. I can totally see how this works out perfectly, but the distance between Chicago and Memphis gets you from Amsterdam to Prague. This use of cities is just one of many realizations of the biggest difference between cultures: size, distance and how to deal with it.

What are your points of orientation?

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7 thoughts on “A Sense Of Direction

  1. Are we talking about over 25 plus in size or age or height even? I’m over 25 plus in age – heaven knows what that is in dog years – and my best points of orientation are always public toilets, train stations and internet cafes in a city. I’ve never been to the USA and never want to visit the country either, but I guess in a large country with mountains or lakes or rivers one could use them as points of orientation. At home, I use the Baltic and the North Sea to ensure I don’t fall in.

    • Age ;-). I would never talk about size here. I couldn’t see how a blog on Americans would ever talk about that. I would love to have all public toilets as my orientation points, as I’m always looking for them. Also, I’m glad you have a system that prevents you from falling into seas 🙂

      • You’re right – I’m in the capital of Wales, UK, so I shouldn’t be mentioning size either – especially since my flat mate gave me two gigantic chocolate brownies yesterday, which I have heroically avoided to eat so far.

        Whenever I have a new batch of foreign flat mates arriving, I take them round Cardiff to show them the main orientation points – like the public toilets! You know, so far none of them have considered this as being slightly peculiar – they’ve all been grateful! Forget Cardiff Castle and the Town Hall, the rest rooms in the St David’s Shopping Centre win the day every time!

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