Would you feel comfortable nude in a mixed sauna?
A ski vacation, a chalet, about fifteen friends and a fabulous week. We were in Austria over New Year, and I was twenty, newly married to my German husband and happy. Little did I know the week would be a difficult one for me; fun but difficult.
Germans love their saunas. I like a sauna too but not with a bunch of naked men. After a long day of skiing the group, we were with, our friends, decided to head to the sauna. My husband was changing into a towel and looked at me, "Aren't you coming?" I was annoyed, "You can't leave me here alone, everyone is going, but me and I don't feel comfortable." He just looked at me with a frown, "That is your problem, not mine."
I sat upstairs for about an hour pouting. I finally decided to venture down to the sauna in my clothing and see what was going on. I walked in, and one of the girls was in a big open shower with one of the guys lathering up, and they were all talking. Alright now just imagine, everyone naked but me, talking laughing and showering. I was a Mormon girl from Utah and this was just too much; I went running upstairs horrified.
This was just one of the many challenges I had to overcome in my first years. I still can't go into a sauna naked with mixed sexes, but I certainly have changed. When you are raising your kids as expats, they will be confronted with this as well and might not think you are the normal one. I heard someone say, "We didn't move over for our kids to change, we just wanted them to have the experience." Well, guess what.... being an expat changes all of us, your children included.
—Allison Ochs Social Worker M.S.W. , Coach, Expat, Mother of three, Wife