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.
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 Luba Davis, a Russian living in Houston, TX and working with one of CORT’s clients helping other relocating assignees. Paying it forward every day!
We hope you find Luba’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.:
Not applicable, personal reasons.
Are you alone on this assignment?
My husband is American, and so is my son, who is 9.
Is this your first international assignment? If not, where else have you lived?
Yes, it is my first one.
Was the decision to move to the U.S. easy or difficult for you and your family?
It was easy and difficult at the same time. I was very excited to live in a country I have heard so much about but never have been to, but at the same time I was worried about being away from my family for a long time.
What is one American tourist attraction that you have visited?
My family is very culturally curious and we love history, so we took advantage of every single historic and cultural attraction everywhere we have lived and traveled to. My favorites are Alamo in San Antonio, TX, Botanical Gardens in Forth Worth, TX, Andrew Jackson’s house in Nashville, TN and Museum of Art in New Orleans, LA.
What is your favorite American saying or slang word?
If it isn’t broken don’t fix it.
What word or saying from your native language do you find yourself using often because it just doesn’t translate well to American English?
Russian language has a lot of proverbs and sayings that apply to a variety of situations. One word I have been using a lot is “tosca” – which is a uniquely Russian phenomenon that doesn’t have an adequate translation into English. It is a strong longing of your soul that is looking for something it can’t attain.
Is there anything that you really miss and can’t find in U.S. stores?
Houston is such an international city that I was able to find most of the things I love from Russia. I guess what I miss the most is good old fashioned rye bread, and about 15 different varieties of ketchup and mayo with different flavors.
What is your favorite American food?
Pie and I must admit, I make great pies for someone who has never had or baked an American pie before. My husband says they are better than his Grammy’s.
Fill in the blank. Americans are:
Friendly, empathetic and loud
Sometimes I wish Americans:
Knew more about the world outside America. There are a lot of great countries and cultures out there.
What has surprised you (good or bad) about life in the U.S.?
I was surprised how little vacation American people have. In Russia, everyone is guaranteed 4 weeks per year. Cost of healthcare was also very surprising. I couldn’t find a lot of my beloved European brands of food, clothing and shoes. The good surprise is certainly sales and coupons – you can buy excellent wardrobe for a fraction of the cost it would cost you in Europe. I also love the warm weather and being close to the ocean.
The best thing about being an expatriate is:
Being able to experience other cultures and see things from a different perspective
The worst thing about being an expatriate is:
Being very far away from home, family and friends. The cost of tickets is very high, and I wasn’t able to expose my son to Russia and Moscow as much as I wanted to.
If you could relocate anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I would love to live in Benelux countries. They have a unique charm that attracts me.
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?
Don’t make any assumptions, be open-minded and flexible and most importantly don’t forget to have fun.
Thank you for the opportunity to tell my story.