I am obsessed with taking geography quizzes (like naming all the states in the USA or thirty-two counties of Ireland–I might have failed that one). It might sound like a weird hobby (I have a lot of those), but it made me realize how little I know about the world and even my own country. In school, I think there is little emphasis anymore to learning geography. In one sense, I agree. Memorizing endless lists of countries, states, and capitals is a chore, and it doesn’t help you to actually learn anything about those places. Instead, they become just a name.
So recently I have been doing a lot of research on countries I have never heard of before (like Uzbekistan). Instead of merely looking at the name, I look at pictures and read about the history. I remember the differences between countries. That way, it sticks out in my mind. It is no longer simply a name. It is as real to me as the place I live.
Take some time to learn about a place you know little to nothing about. You will be surprised how many story or character inspirations come from learning about places so different from our own.