Electricity would go out at least once a week, and she spent the time sitting in her darkened apartment playing with her puppy. She eventually bought a power inverter to back up electrical devices, and she learned to use VOIP (voice over Internet protocol) to make cheap phone calls to friends and family back in the U.S. Within a few months, she'd adjusted to her new life.
None of the Americans interviewed for this story know each other. Expats in Bangalore tend to meet and socialize most easily with expats from other countries. It takes longer to befriend Indian people, but the connections can eventually turn into solid relationships. And there is no language barrier: Thanks to the legacy of British colonization, everybody speaks English. The atmosphere is relaxed and polite, but assimilating into another culture is always an ongoing process.
"It's very easy to make friends with foreigners," Villalon says. "It's a little different with the locals. Because I have very Asian features, at first they do not think I am an American. Until I start to speak and they hear my accent."
"No matter how long I have been here, I will still appear to others as a foreigner," says Susan Chopra, a software usability engineer from Michigan. "Some days, the endless stares get particularly frustrating, and I wonder if I will ever feel like I truly belong. I am optimistic, though, that having a job and networking with people in my field will change this."
Chopra meets many locals through her husband, who is Indian. To connect with other expats, she attends weekly meetings of the Overseas Women's Club Bangalore, which gathers for coffee every Thursday at The Leela Palace hotel.
"Most of the Americans I've met have been through the OWC," she says. "This group has close to 400 members from all over the world. It's a really great source for networking with others from overseas."