I was traveling for 3 weeks, arriving in India on the 20th of May, and leaving on the 8th of June. During that time, most of my time has been spent attending courses and taking some Red Hat exams. Some of my colleagues back home might believe I’ve been on vacation but I’ve actually had only 2 full days without courses/training/exams here (excluding the day I arrived and the day I left).
Kochi is a city far south in India on the west coast, with a population size comparable to Oslo. It can get hot and humid during the summer, but both the hotel and the training location has air conditioning. The monsoon started when I was there.
Traffic can be a bit confusing for us foreigners, with very active driving on the left side of the road, people using the horn a lot, and _plenty_ of tuk-tuks (small taxis).
The course provider, IPSR Solutions Ltd., can deliver course packages, «boot camps» which include:
Yes, it is possible to arrange all of this by yourself, only purchasing the course + exam from IPSR, but I’d really recommend going for the entire package. Oh, and they also deliver courses from Cisco and Microsoft.
The course material is in English, released by Red Hat. English is the common language for these courses. Yes, some people speak with a stronger Indian accent (and I with a Norwegian accent), but that hasn’t been any problem, communication is going quite well.
One or two of my colleagues were wondering about the computers used for the training: they were fast enough, using i3 CPUs and 8GB RAM. Keyboards were with English layout, etc. There were no problems.
IPSR normally add a few days of practice, at least for some of the courses; this helps to increase the understanding of the material and the chance of passing the exam.
There are of course some other expenses to keep in mind, but nothing too extreme:
1. Tipping to hotel staff and others.
2. Expenses for dinner (when that is said, I had a really good dinner at the hotel the other night, butter chicken with paratha (a type of soft flat bread), water and pineapple juice, it cost about 70 NOK).
3. If you don’t have one already, you’ll need a valid machine readable passport.
4. You’ll need to get a visa from the Indian Embassy in Oslo; it’s an easy form to fill out. The visa application will cost about 1000 NOK (or 550 NOK if the Indian Embassy think you need a tourist visa they told me I needed an entry visa).
5. It is recommended to refresh the usual vaccines everyone took when they were young, and also to get vaccine for hepatitis A + B, and some drinking vaccine to increase your chances of keeping a healthy stomach. All of these will cost a couple of 1000 NOK (I think it was around 2-3000 NOK).
6. Flight tickets. The prices can vary much, mine cost around 6500 NOK from Oslo to India and back. In addition to that there’s the flight tickets between Bergen and Oslo. Be prepared for a looooong journey, and having to change flights a few times
1. The distance / travel time means it’s not worth it if you’re only taking 1 course. If you can set aside time for more than one course, it will be worth it.
2. You shouldn’t get homesick too soon, and you won’t have many full days as a tourist (you can go out and see the town during the evenings).
3. If you’re having troubles with the English language this might not be for you. It definitely helps if you’re either willing to go out in the evenings to explore, or if you’re a workaholic.
4. Be open to try different food, they have some really good food here. If you don’t _want_ to eat the good food, they also have various junk food chains (McDonalds, Pizza Hut and others).
5. You can’t be afraid to meet people from other cultures or with different religions. At the courses I’ve met people from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India and Australia, all have been nice and friendly people, speaking good English. According to Wikipedia, the city of Kochi has 47% Hindus, 35% Christians and 17% Muslims, and based on my limited stay here, it seem like people co-exist nicely.
1. Malaria and mosquitoes: it’s not supposed to be a big problem in this part of India. During my stay I didn’t see a single mosquito, but it’s probably a good idea to bring some repellant anyway.
2. Traveler’s diarrhea (aka “Delhi belly”): I haven’t had any such problems. Take normal precautions such as not eating just any kind of street food, and don’t drink tap water (bottled water is fine).
3. Corruption: haven’t seen any, but then again I haven’t really had much to do with law enforcement etc.