Rage Against the Host Country

I visited some friends last April who, like myself, have a multicultural family. She is American and her husband is Austrian. After living for almost twenty years in Austria she called in her “marker” that she could someday return to the USA. So they packed up the family and left fabulous Austria behind for Texas. My situation is similar in that I am American but moved to Germany with my German husband. I asked her Austrian husband, now living in Texas , how his adjustment has been. He mentioned that he has had to do some soul searching in order in order not to be angry at America. Wait what? He was angry with America? How could he be angry with America if I was angry with Europe? Wasn’t Germany to blame for all my frustrations and America was perfect?

He helped me realize that maybe sometimes Expats have some displaced anger. It is not easy by any means to learn a new culture. The little things can set you off.  I remember one day feeling particularly annoyed at the lack of a line system in a bakery. For a country with so many processes and rules, how can Germans not know how to queue up properly? I was feeling empowered and gave the twenty-year-old bakery guy my philosophy on queuing up! He looked very embarrassed and didn’t seem to know what to do with me and replied: “that’s the way it is”. Then that got me started on a whole new annoyance, the lack of customer service in my host country. I walked away grumbling under my breath about Germany. 

So I have come up with some simple ideas for overcoming “Rage Against your Host” (country). Foremost, figure out what you are personally angry about. Is it the queue at the bakery, or are you angry that you followed a partner on an adventure that is less adventure and somewhat stressful? Either way, all expats should be on this journey to learn about other cultures and learn about ourselves in the process. I apparently like a good clear queue/line.

Photo Courtesy of Pexels.com

Don’t forget to smile! I was terribly lost and upset on the train system last week and was exiting the train looking at the train schedule on my phone. An old man got quite snippy with me in German. He sneered at me “Are you getting on or off the train”. I turned around and started yelling at him in German “ You know you could be nice”. I have been on a kick lately to tell people in my city to be nicer. But then I stopped to think, am I the one not being nice by confronting them and their culture? I ever so slightly bumped into a woman this morning and she gave me a death stare. I smiled at her and completely disarmed her! It worked much better then confronting unsuspecting victims.

Learn the language. My German is pretty kick ass but I still get myself in difficult situations where I think I understand but completely do not! I get frustrated and angry but after some introspection I believe I am angrier at myself for not studying more, not listening to German TV and using the translate button on Google Chrome way too often.

So breathe and give it a try! No country is perfect, learning a little patience might be helpful for us all.

Cats on Planes

   I spent a lot of time panicking before I left with my cat on our international move. I debated a lot on whether to even take her with us on our move from the USA to Germany. In the end it came down to the fact that I could not part with her. I describe some of the rules and regulations for traveling with pets in my book. However, for this blog, I’d like to offer some personal experience of how cats behave on planes.

    First, you’ll have to make a choice based on your cat’s weight and age and decide if the cat will go with you in the cabin or below in cargo. Also, check your airline’s regulations. Some only allow cats in the cabin domestically. Furthermore, book ahead of time as the airlines will only allow a certain number of pets in the cabin per flight.

    I chose to bring my very old grumpy cat in the cabin with me. It was a ten-hour flight from Dallas to Frankfurt and then I had to get on a forty-five-minute train to my destination. So I was in a complete panic when I realized she might have to be in a carrier for almost fourteen hours including wait time at airports!

    TSA or security in your local airport may be your first hurdle with any animal. A co-worker told me to request a separate room for my cat when security asked me to remove her from the crate. I foolishly ignored this advice. When you remove a frightened cat from it’s carrier in the middle of an airport to show her to security officers let me tell you, all hell can break loose. I have never heard her growl like that before. I am so glad she did not get away, can you imagine the cat running through Dallas International Airport? My next tip would be to find a family restroom or handicapped restroom that might be a single room rather than stalls. I was able to find one and go inside and comfort her for a bit.

    I did use a sedative for my cat, this, however, is a personal decision. I did a test run with her in the carrier and the car and she howled non-stop for 30 minutes so I was terrified she would get me kicked off the plane. Talk to your vet about sedatives and try one out beforehand to make sure there are no surprises. I spoke with a number of people whose cat did not need one for short flights.

    On the plane, I have to say she was absolutely fine! She didn’t complain once. I even took her into the bathroom and let her out of her carrier but this scared her more. I had read this from other people as well. It seems most cats prefer the security of the carrier once put in.

    I did not want my cat to starve or dehydrate so I did allow food and drink but before we left home. When I landed in Frankfort I again found a private bathroom and let her out. I offered her food water and a travel size kitty litter box. She refused all of it and jumped back in the carrier.

    So bottom line I’d say cats will be fine and all the worrying was for naught. I felt horribly guilty and hope I never have to do that to her again but we had few choices. Certainly, do your homework before your international move there is a lot involved but rest assured if my grumpy seventeen-year-old cat can make it your pet can as well.

** Anyone have a personal experience with international moves and dogs and want to be a guest blogger? Contact me and we can collaborate.

Cat on plane
Courtesy of Pexels.com. Travel with pets