Expat Interviews: Sarah Ayala, A New Zealander Living in Fulshear, Texas

Ex·pa·tri·ate: (n) a person who lives outside their native country.

Each year, CORT Destination Services supports thousands of individuals and families through the challenges inherent in relocating for work. Our Destination Services Consultants help assignees discover great neighborhoods, find the right home, choose the best school, and get settled into their new community with less stress and more confidence.

In the spirit of community that our consultants bring to their work every day, we occasionally invite an expatriate to share their thoughts about the experience of moving to, and living in, the United States. Our latest Expat Interview is from Sarah Ayala a New Zealander national living in Fulshear, Texas. We hope you find Sarah’s remarks to be both fun and informative. We would love to hear from you. Please share your insights on the expatriate experience in the comments section. Thank you.

Industry that brought you to the U.S.:

Oil & Gas

Are you alone on this assignment?

I’m with my husband and two kids, Ana Lucia (7) and Rafael (5).

Is this your first international assignment? If not, where else have you lived?

It’s complicated – my husband is from Argentina and I’m from New Zealand. We met in Australia and have both lived in many different countries.

Was the decision to move to the U.S. easy or difficult for you and your family?

Not at all… we looked at it as a chance to learn about a new country and visit new places.

What is one American tourist attraction that you have visited?

The Alamo in San Antonio and The Capitol in Austin were both super interesting, but I think the Redwood Forest in California has been my favorite tourist destination so far.

What is your favorite American saying or slang word?


What word or saying from your native language do you find yourself using often because it just doesn’t translate well to American English?

Kia Kaha – it means ‘stay strong’ in Maori, but has a feeling of personal strength with it that I just can’t explain.

Is there anything that you really miss and can’t find in U.S. stores?

I love how we make coffee in New Zealand – oh, and our poached eggs on Vogels toast. Any Kiwi will know what I’m talking about.

What is your favorite American food?


Fill in the blank. Americans are:

Confident in expressing their opinion. Patriotic. Know how to really celebrate a holiday or season.

Sometimes I wish Americans:

Were a bit more laid back. Especially about parenting.

What has surprised you (good or bad) about life in the U.S.?

Amazon Prime and how you can order anything you want one night and it be on your doorstep two days later. Amazing. The cost of living here has been much more affordable than expected.

The best thing about being an expatriate is:

Experiencing new things and bringing up the kids as global citizens. Hopefully they’ll have a rich understanding and respect of cultural diversity.

The worst thing about being an expatriate is:

Being so far from family.

If you could relocate anywhere in the world, where would you go?

That’s a tough one! Somewhere on the coast – maybe California.

Imagine that a good friend just called to tell you that he/she has accepted an assignment in the U.S. What advice might you have for them as they prepare to relocate?

Welcome it, accept every invitation or offer, even if it takes you out of your comfort zone.

Last thoughts:

Once the ‘newness’ of a place has worn off, being an expat can have tough times. My advice would be to embrace all that is good about your new home and the people around you. It’s a gift to be able to travel the world and experience new things. Make the most of it!