If I asked you is Switzerland closer to the UK than Luxembourg? or What's the largest island in the Indian Ocean? Would you be able to answer without Googling it?
Why do Americans struggle with this?
Most Helpful Girl
Most Helpful Guy
I think there are two important reasons for this. First of all, as far as I can tell, having spent one year at an American high school, the American high school system sucks. I had classes where I learned a lot but I also had teachers that didn't teach me anything I didn't already know for the whole year. The French teacher at my American high school spoke about the same amount of French as I did, coming from Switzerland and having had 8 years of school French before I came to America.
But I think there's another, MORE important reason: America is a freaking huge country and Americans are very typical big-country-people. I know about the difference between small-country-people and big-country-people very well myself because I come from a small country. Switzerland is only a third (!) of the size of Pennsylvania.
So as a small-country-person I have often realized in my life that big-country-people tend to come across as somewhat ignorant. This is not only the case for Americans, it's also the case for all other citizens of big countries. For example Germans can also come across to us Swiss people as very ignorant. If you ask any Swiss person on the street about German culture, society and politics (and geography), they will be able to give you a detailed description. If you ask the average German person about Swiss culture, politics or geography, you will quickly realize... they have freaking idea. Many Germans think we Swiss people speak the same language (which is rather offensive) and they think we're basically some weirdos living in the mountains. The most they usually can say about us is "I know they pay really high salaries, which is why I wanna move their to work".
Another good example for big-country-people coming across as idiots comes from my girlfriend's situation. My girlfriend comes from South Korea. Korea is a relatively small country compared to its neighbors China and Japan and it has for centuries been the little toy and bully victim of these two countries. I have lived in Korea with my girlfriend and I can tell you that especially Chinese tourists in Korea can come across as total idiots. They have absolutely no idea about the Korean culture and assume it's okay to just speak Chinese with everyone.
So I think it's not something that has inherently to do with Americans. I think it's more of a problem that people share who live in large countries. Because they can travel so far away and are still in their home country, they get less2