Thursday, April 21, 2011

Geographically Declined

Geography has never been my strong suite.

In fact, I'm fairly certain that some of my all time lowest test scores ever involved that particular subject.

(Well, that and spelling.)

(And pretty much middle school in general.)

One of my courses in college had an exam worth 20% of our final grade over the countries of the world and their capitals.

(Apparently my major of International Relations actually needed to include international stuff. Go figure.)

And when this was announced while going over the syllabus the first day of class, I started to twitch.

I had 3 weeks to learn hundreds of them..... Well, hundreds minus the two or so I already knew. Regardless, it wasn't going to be a pretty picture.

[Side note: the courses at Cornell College are done one at a time for just under a month. Weird schedule compared to most universities and really intense learning wise, but I totally rocked at it.]

So I promptly set about drilling my ass off emphatically studying maps and lists of countries and capitals at every opportunity. Peter was indispensably helpful in this matter, and much of my (very marginal) success at learning them should be accredited to him.

He came up with little euphemisms associating the countries with their correct capitals (it also greatly helped that he actually knew a reasonable number of them before hand, while my prior knowledge was truly disgraceful and makes one wonder how on earth I ever graduated from the International Baccalaureate program in high school), and quizzed me on them at every opportunity.

This also meant that lunch break conversation for those three weeks went like this:

P: What's the capital of Belgium?
M: Brussels! Because you want chocolate but get brussel sprouts instead!!

P: What's the capital of Taiwan?
M: Taipei! Because I want and you pay!!

Others at our geeky cafeteria table would vary in reaction from amusement to helpful suggestions for other ones to thinking we were seriously loosing it.

But one of the guys who often sat with us was in the same class with me and totally understood exactly what we were doing. And then decided to use me as the test for his hypothesis that it was actually impossible for somebody to learn all the countries and their respective capitals with no prior knowledge over the length of the class, regardless of how hard they worked at it. 

And, in some sense, I did prove him right.

The exam was administered, it included both map labels and capital/country answering, and I got 68 out of 100 right on it. 

But hey, I managed to pull a B out of that class anyways.

(For the record, I scored better than him on the LSAT. And four years later he's a successful lawyer and I'm an unemployable mommy, supporting my current hypothesis that academic success doesn't matter worth shit once you're out of school.)
"War is God's way of teaching Americans geography."
-Ambrose Bierce


  1. Hey if it works, go with it! Lol

  2. Ya, I totally don't know geography. I have tried but given up. I went to 5 different elementary schools for various reasons, and somehow missed the geography part in all of them. So I really know nothing about where anything is. And I have an awful sense of direction, which helps... Honestly, the only geography I have is from playing Risk repeatedly as a child. That's all I have to go on.

    By the way, I like and totally agree with your hypothesis, "that academic success doesn't matter worth shit once you're out of school"

  3. Okay, I have totally been lurking since your guest post at Rants from Mommyland and falling a little more in love with your way of expressing what could be my life with each new post. But this pushed me over the edge and I have to comment. I laughed out loud at the graphic and THANK YOU for stating the truth about academic success. Why did I bother to try so hard? Good luck and keep it up!

  4. Amazing how much importance ppl place on that expensive piece of paper that doesn't do much for ya after you get it, huh? Social work degree working the money center at WM. International business degree working the front office of a real estate company. Elementary ed degree working w/ disabled ppl. Secondary ed working in HR...

    Ah!! Thanks for that map, btw - FUNNY stuff, I had to borrow it. : )