I grew up on Long Island, about an hour and a half east of New York City. It is what's considered "downstate" New York, although we hardly ever refer to ourselves as that. In fact, we often forget there's a whole lot more of New York north of Westchester County. It's all lumped together as "upstate" which might as well be another state as far as we're concerned. We hardly bother to learn much about the rest of the state, don't follow what goes on very closesly or seem to understand the concerns of our fellow New Yorkers. [Author's note: I've since tried to make amends by attending college in Ithaca and marrying a guy from Buffalo.]
A similar sentiment could be applied to my understanding and attentiveness, as an American, to the rest of the world. (To be fair, there's a whole lot of America to slog through before you even attempt to broaden your worldly horizons.) A big chunk of what I know about the rest of the world comes from grade school assignments. The Ghats are mountains in India. Building a scale model of Machu Pichu out of sugar cubes takes a heck of a lot of sugar. The rest comes mainly from current events like the earthquake, tsunami and resulting nuclear crisis in Japan.
But when it comes to the actual cultures, the people, the stuff that makes a Dane a Dane or a Nicaraguan a Nicaraguan, well, they might as well all be "upstaters". So I'm trying to make amends by querying my classmates from my Danish for Foreigners class and sharing with you the amusing, fascinating, and funny anecdotes I've picked up from this goldmine of intercultural exchange.
Germany, you're up first.