I am not an American as anyone who has heard me speak can attest to.  I am British, however I am applying for my American citizenship and have my test this week.  Fingers crossed!

Whether in America or Britain or anywhere else for that matter, I am completely and utterly geographically challenged and of course I have absolutely no sense of direction.   An excellent case in point was when I was driving to Maine and ended up in New York, just a mere 200 miles in the wrong direction.


I sort of know where places are in the UK.  I am from up north from a place called Manchester, I worked down south in London and there are a whole load of places in between like Birmingham, Wolverhampton, oh and Wales, which happens to be the country my good old dad is from.

Now, I have been in America for 16+ years and I’ll be damned if I still don’t know where most places are.  I do know a few, but I am not sure where they are in relation to each other… and, if they are close that is even worse.  Never ever ask me for directions!  I honestly could not tell you where the North or South Shore are in MA… wait, are they in MA?  And, where on earth is Maine :).

A while back I was introduced to a TV show by my friend, Kathleen called “How the States Got Their Shapes” on the History Channel and I have to say, I love it.  I am now binge watching reruns of the show and find it totally compelling.   It is likely not going to help with my citizenship exam but it is very entertaining and educational show.

The host, Brian Unger, has such a fun “tongue in cheek” way about himself and he also has amazing arms, but I digress :).    In parts of the show he asks regular people to point out States on the US map and not everyone gets it right.  The show is so utterly fascinating!  It poses a lot of questions about why some States are shaped a certain way, but it also gives you a wonderful history lesson on many other things.  For example, why is Rhode Island not an Island?  Is Ohio really a State?  Why are Montanan’s so fiercely independent?  When was Texas its own country?  And the questions continue and I am getting the answers, which is fantastic.  It might not get me from Boston to Maine but it does help me understand a little more about where places are in America!  I still would not ask me for directions though!

I am not only getting an education in why the shapes of the American States are so odd but also the history of this wonderful country, which I am hoping to become a citizen of soon.


How the States Got Their Shapes on the History Channel

We take the shapes of our states for granted, but the map of America could have looked very different. Ever heard of Chicago, Wisconsin? Why is Texas so big that you’d better not mess with it? And what ever happened to the state of Jefferson?

In HOW THE STATES GOT THEIR SHAPES, Brian Unger hits the road to uncover the history hidden in our map. From the crooked borders in the east to the organized boxes in the west, the shapes of the states are more than simple geography. Every line on the map of America is a surprising clue that reveals how the 13 colonies became the 50 states and how an intrepid group of settlers and immigrants built a new nation. The same forces that shaped our states still influence us today–how we eat, speak, vote, pray and play. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, the nation’s capital to your own backyard, HOW THE STATES GOT THEIR SHAPES will uncover the history you never knew about the places you know best.”