Last spring, I was sitting in an extremely busy cafeteria enjoying my coffee and the free NYT the Univeristy provides, when suddenly a guy with a vaguely eastern European accent approached me. He asked me if I was willing to participate in a survey, and since I had nothing to do, and feel bad for grad students who go about begging for subjects, I gladly agreed.
The guy took out a map of Europe, and a numerical legend of all the countries, and asked me to mark as many countries as I knew. And thats when it dawned up on me. I dont know as much as I thought I did about Europe. And I felt SO happy! It was wierd, because the expected reaction would have been of shame and guilt. I realised that somewhere down the road, I had prioritized, and made up my mind that knowing all the countries of Europe really isnt going to help me in my day to day life. If I need to know, all I would have to do is go to Google. So with a bright beaming smile, I marked what I knew, UK, Ireland, Italy, Sicily, France and Germany. I didn't even think any longer than that and handed the sheet to the guy with a big beaming smile.
The guy took one look at the sheet and his smile just vanished. He looked SO offended I thought he was going to bite my head off right there and then. But he controlled himself and asked me 'Where are you from?' 'India', I said.
'Oh, thats okay', says the guy (HEH?! what do you mean! I am thinking) 'I probably dont know that many Asian countries either'.
With that he went off to another table, and I went back to my coffee. I think he was offended just because I didn't mark his country on the map. (I still dont know what it is, and where it is on the map)
Months later, I came across an article in a Univ publication (thats what I do during my coffee breaks...read NYT, USA today and random Univ publications strewn around the cafeteria..all free). The article was a survey of 25 grad students who were asked to mark the countries of Europe. I dont remember the exact figures now, but I clearly remember that there was one outlier who was thrown out of the study because that student had too few countries marked on the map.
I am 99.5% sure that was me.
BTW, in case that grad student comes up to you one day, please be prepared. I am inserting a nice little map of Europe for you.