Iâ€™m so proud of myself in terms of my geographic knowledge and country knowledge. Even though it was not enough to let me pass the US Foreign Service exam it’s still far more than the average person and enough to impress others at cocktail parties. 🙂
When I was at the Interchamber Mixer on Wednesday last week, I asked one of the rare black guys in Shanghai, where are you from and he said Cameroon. And then he asked the obvious question, do you know where that is? After about 10-12 seconds I said, west Africa. And with a pleased but surprised tone to his voice he said, wow, how did you know that? My answer: I studied African geography as part of my prep for the Foreign Service exam, and Iâ€™m planning to go to Africa in the next year.
Later that same evening, a guy said to me, Iâ€™m from Belgrade, do you know where that is? In the Balkans, was my response. Again, I was correct!
The location of Mauritius is also a popular discussion as many Chinese have immigrated to Mauritius and many native Mauritians play in bands in Hong Kong and Shanghai. By the way, itâ€™s an island off the coast of Africa.
Also while at the Interchamber Mixer, I met a Dutch guy and I wished him Happy Sinterklaas and he was of course surprised that same random American girl was wishing him Happy Sinterklaas. Then I explained last year I celebrated Sinterklaas with my Dutch friends on exchange in the US. He accepted that and then proceeded to explain the holiday in detail to an American we were chatting with. Just the day before I had emailed my Dutch friends and acquaintances to wish them Happy Sinterklaas and one who I donâ€™t know very well asked me why do you know about Dutch holidays. My response to him? How am I supposed to find a Dutch boyfriend if I donâ€™t know about Dutch holidays. 😉
Iâ€™ve also gotten pretty good at guessing peopleâ€™s native countries. But there are so many small countries in Europe that unless you listen closely to the language, it can be hard to pinpoint. While shopping on Saturday there were some good-looking European guys also in the same shops we and so I asked them, â€œAre you German or Dutch?â€ They said, â€œNo, weâ€™re from Belgium.â€ I said, â€œOh, Iâ€™m sorry.â€ And one of them commented, â€˜wow, your knowledge of Europe is very good to know to apologize.â€™ 😉 😉
Yay! for being culturally aware. 🙂