My Personal Scratch-Off Map

How well do you know your geography of the world? Could you name all the countries? I couldn't.  I could probably place them all in a general region or continent.

I watched a video today where various South Asians had to defend themselves as loving, caring human beings, despite people's closed-minded thoughts that lead them to think that any person of color is capable of such hateful actions. Of the handful of men featured in the video, one man was Pakistani, another Afghani. They clarified that they were South Asian, and NO that is not Middle Eastern. Oops, I am an idiot because I definitely don't know the geography of that region.

Can you name which countries are South Asian, which are Middle Eastern, and which are Central Asian? I stupidly didn't know the differences until recently.

I'm not the type of person who is making political decisions for an entire country, otherwise I'd hope I would know this information. Travel is one of those things that helps with this ignorance.  Using the palm of my hand as a map of Spain, I could point out Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Granada and Valencia. Pre-study abroad, I would not be able to tell you anything other than the fact that Madrid is dead center. Oh, there's a tiny nation squeezed between France and Spain? Oh, there are islands that are part of Spain floating out in the sea? I couldn't tell you any of this without living there. Yes, it's something you can look up, but it isn't even in your periphery of thoughts until it literally is in your periphery.

The world is just one big scratch-off map for each and every one of us. Each time we travel, we uncover something that previously, at least to us, was hidden. We're scratching at the surface of a land, a culture, and a people that we previously had never encountered outside of media. A book will never be able to show you the kindness of a stranger, or the odd glances of the passengers of a subway car; these are things one must view first-hand.

I'm extremely excited to scratch off a few countries on my personal map when I go to the following countries: Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Where are those countries on a map? You better brush up on that geography.