You think that Freud, Dvorak, and Kafka were born somewhere in what is today Germany (or Austria). You take for granted that Forman, Warhol, and Polanski are Americans. You do not realize that your Volkswagen was made in Bratislava, Slovakia, your Opel in Gliwice, Poland, and your Audi in Gyor, Hungary.
You are amused to hear a Pole and a Ukrainian arguing that the geographic centre of Europe is in his country (because you know it has to lie somewhere in western Germany). You sometimes hear that Paris and Prague are commonly regarded the most beautiful cities in Europe. You cannot judge, because you have never been to Prague.
You do not distinguish between Slovakia and Slovenia, Latvia and Lithuania. You did not know that Ukraine is the largest European country (after Russia) only after you read this sentence. When you look at a map of Europe, you are amazed how terribly close places like Bosnia and Kosovo are. You cannot locate Moldova, Macedonia, or Belarus.
In your history textbooks, you do not learn about the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which in the middle ages covered an area of about the size of France, Germany, the Benelux, and Switzerland combined. You do not learn about the reformation of Jan Hus, the fights of Cossacks, or the parliamentary privileges of Polish szlachta. You think the Marshall Plan was intended for Western Europe only.
You cannot say a word in any Slavic language. You are surprised when Romanians understand all French, Spanish, and Italian (yes, Romanian is a Romance language too). You do not have friends from the Balkans. You have never bathed in the Black Sea, never sailed on Danube, never camped in the Carpathian forests.
In the world of sport, you fail to remember that the Czechs, Slovaks, and Russians belong to the best ice-hockey players in the world. The same holds for Lithuanian basketball players, Hungarian rowers, and Romanian gymnasts.
Because you do not have our experience of ‘socialism-building’, you do not know how socialist you are right now. You have a great shortage of plumbers and at the same time fear to accept those from, let’s say, Poland (and how handsome some of them are!). In most of your movies, any girl from the eastern part of Europe is an obtuse blond “Nadia” with an awful Russian accent.
You are only half-Europeans. In your minds, Central and Eastern Europe is still one big blurred unattractive place as it was during the Cold War. In your minds, the Iron Curtain persists.