I am sad to admit that when Honey and I were in Europe, we did not enjoy our experience like we should have. :( Neither of us had ever been anywhere.....I mean other than Canada and Mexico (the part of Mexico you go on vacation) and other places on a cruise. But those places aren't really different. Those other countries, or the parts that Americans normally go to, are so "Americanized" that we don't feel the culture. I didn't truly grasp the concept of culture shock until we were in another country.....thousands of miles from home.
First of all, we were exhausted. We had decent flights and our layovers weren't too long, but neither of us had slept well in almost a week. Nerves do that to ya. :) On the way to our apartment, our facilitator told us what she had learned from Vlado's most recent medical. He had regressed and was more delayed than before. She also told us that he had started hitting himself when he would get frustrated. With our tired state and our nerves....this freaked us out! We spent the night worrying about what we had gotten ourselves into.
Our facilitator took us around the city a bit after we got there to help us get some food. We were both craving something familiar...anything familiar. We ended up coming back to the apartment with some eggs, bread, water...and a few specialty items that J said we needed to try. :) For dinner, Honey ended up having a hard boiled egg sandwich. He had wanted a fried egg sandwich, but somehow, I missed the drawer that held all the pots and pans so I used a coffee pot (metal) to boil up some eggs. This was just the beginning of our food woes during the trip.
I have to say that now that I've been home for a while, I realize that I was a baby while there. I was just so emotionally overwhelmed with everything that I didn't take time to enjoy our son's culture and country. We saw many things (forts, zoos, churches) and I enjoyed them....but I didn't soak it in. I am ashamed to admit this! There is another family there now and when I read about their experience....I am jealous. I wish I would have let myself experience it like they are. They will come home with so many wonderful memories. And the worst part is that I know that it is my own fault.
So, to future adoptive parents.....I beg you.....when you are in your child's country, enjoy it! I know that is easier said than done, but unless you plan to adopt again, chances are you will never see your child's country again. When you get home, there will be things that you wished you had done or seen or eaten. LOL! We brought home some food stuff that I have rationed. I bought some chips (ketchup flavored ones were my favorite) and we just ate the last of them last week. I also bought a bag and season thing for chicken and it was amazing! Oh, how I wish I would have bought more of those! The last thing that we have here are soup packets....kind of like really big oodles of noodles soups. I haven't made any yet, but the girls Honey works with that are from that area said they are delicious!
If/when we go again....I am going to be prepared. I am going to make myself realize this is a special occurance and home will come quick enough. I will let myself enjoy the sights, sounds, tastes and experiences. And I will be happy to have the opportunity!