Last night, to immerse ourselves in our ignorance, Tim and I played a game. He printed out blank maps of Europe, and we each tried to fill them in with the country names.
Please don’t look or judge too closely! I did well enough on western Europe (sorry, Austria, Switzerland, Finland, and Sweden…) but eastern Europe pretty much sent me back to school. OK, I got Russia, and let me tell you, it is huge. But there are so many more smaller nations over there! (Strangely, Tim and I both correctly labeled Moldova, where our church supports an orphanage, but missed the former Yugoslavia, Romania, and other bigger names.) The blank map was a humbling experience. It also showed me the value of my travels. I never took a European history class, and my high school “World History” was really just about ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome. So as terrible as it may sound, the reason I correctly labeled most of western Europe was my travel experience. I knew where Portugal was, because I’ve been there. I knew that when I was in Germany, we could have crossed the border into France; and that in the Netherlands we’re only an hour from Brussels, Belgium. It stands to reason that if I try this map again in three years, the results of the exam should be greatly improved. I think I’ll hang on to this.