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?