Including general knowledge gaps that you feel you shouldn’t have had (e.g. “wait, there’s been a country there this entire time?”)
I thought Berlin was right on the full FRG/GDR border, and that the Berlin Wall ran along the entire border and through Berlin.
You’re flying to Chicago? Cool. That’s one of those “four corners” states, isn’t it? Can you bring me back some sand from the desert? You say I’m wrong? Well, if you do encounter any desert on your trip, I’d like a sand sample.
The existence of Malta surprised me one day.
I one day noticed that China has a giant island (Hainan) off its coast.
My mental map of Canada is skewed. I forget how far west Ontario goes, and in my mind, Calgary is due north of Denver. Despite having been to both cities and knowing this isn’t true.
First time I sent something to Singapore, the post office clerk insisted it was a city what was the country? (20+ yrs ago) we went back and forth, ‘yes, but it’s a country, too!’ Until another clerk suggested the first look under ‘Republic of‘, which is exactly where it is.
I’ve long had this mental picture of the continental USA being divided roughly into four “quadrants,” and being from the Northeast, have long imagined much of the central/western USA to be farther west and farther north than it actually is. Even now, looking at a map, it surprises me how centrally located, say, Denver, CO is. I keep imagining Denver and Salt Lake City to be farther northwest than they actually are, San Francisco to be farther north than it actually is, etc. I keep thinking such places are right smack dab in the middle of the northwestern “quadrant” of the USA.
I didn’t think enough about the geography of Canada to have those particular misconceptions, but as for myself I didn’t realize Canada went so South and that the farthest north I’ve been in North America in fact has been somewhere in Oregon rather than Ontario or Quebec.
My own: Rome, Hamburg, London, and Antwerp, were all at one time capitals of great naval powers or were naval trading cities, so they must have a great naval port right on the ocean, right?
I’ll admit that when I was young, I thought everyone in Canada spoke French. In my defense, I grew up in northern New York along the Quebec border, so I had encountered a lot of Canadians and they all spoke French. Plus it seemed to make historical sense to me; I figured Spain had settled Mexico, England had settled America, and France had settled Canada.
At one point I was visiting some Yoopers (MI Tech and thereabouts) and realized I was farther north than anywhere I’d been in Ontario. I later found some website listing population by latitude and figured out what percentage of Canadians I was farther north than. But I don’t remember the number.
I’d always had a skewed notion of how big Antarctica and Greenland are and how relatively small Africa looks (due to skewed Mercator Projection) - when in fact Africa is utterly enormous and Greenland and Antarctica are relatively small.
I’m always surprised how far south the equator is (or I guess more accurately, how many countries are north of it). It seems like all of Africa should be south of the equator, and India should be straddling it. But New Delhi is north of Miami and Orlando.