I've always loved travel and exploring since I was a kid. I like to learn new things and meet new people. I have had a number of incredibly diverse friends from very different backgrounds throughout my life because I love to learn about people, their cultures, and especially their food. I appreciate the differences of my fellow humans and positive aspects of their personalities. You can learn something important from everyone you meet.
It's sort of unsurprising that I ended up in Poland. I have several Polish friends. I have shared major holidays with their very Polish families... and I consider the bucket list I made when my doctors feared I had a brain tumor to still be valid even though it's clear that I'm no longer on the verge of death or permanent paralysis.
I never thought I would go to Poland for an actual, honest to God Polish wedding though. Life is strange that way sometimes. You see, my S/O has been best friends with a college friend of mine since high school (small world, right?) and the bride wished to be married in her home country. So... I ended up being invited....to Poland.
At first, it was a difficult decision for me to make. It's a huge endeavor to travel that far oversees even if you're in perfect health, which I am not. With my neurological condition (possible MS), Reynaud's phenomenon, bronchitis, and the language barriers I was going to face, the trip was a huge risk. I know just enough Polish to say, "Thanks grandma" but not "Help! I'm having severe muscle spasms; my medicine is in my purse!" Ultimately, I ended up going to support the folks I care about.
I didn't expect to meet so many wonderful people or have so many great experiences. The wedding was beautiful. The bride's family and friends were so VERY generous. I almost feel guilty for coming. They helped us a great deal and the trip wouldn't have gone as smoothly as it did without their generosity and helpfulness.
Poland is much more developed and modern than most people give it credit for. The people there are friendly and are just as curious about you as you are about them. They seem surprised when they find foreign tourists are there for more than shopping and clubbing. My trip to Poland was great, for the most part. There were some scary parts: I had two pretty bad neurological attacks while I was there, an incident in Nowa Huta (Brown folks, avoid that area if you don't have a guide AND a large group. It's actually been in international news due to the residents reacting to foreigners and people they perceive as "rich" in the same way the Puritans reacted to witches.), and a frightening number of guys trying to pick me up whenever my boyfriend left me unattended.
However, there were also some pretty effing awesome parts! Like the wedding reception where we all danced till we were dizzy, the amazing historical architecture in every city, the lovely natural scenery, their boss, bad-assed public transportation system, and the super incredible interactive museums... and the shopping. I'm sorry. Shopping in Poland was like going to an after Christmas sale with $1000 to freely spend. No. Seriously. One dollar is worth about 4 zloty and you can buy a whole pint of beer with that. Most of the other goods, save electronics, are priced similarly.