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I have had a wonderful stay and am sad that it is drawing to a close already...

Mari Immerso (United States), MCSD (VB .NET/Visual C#) 27 Mar to 04 May 2006

I have had a wonderful stay and am sad that it is drawing to a close already. Even though I've been here 40 days, the time has flown. I am grateful for the whole experience.

As an already seasoned IT professional, with my current knowledge no longer able to help me to find a decent job, I realized I needed to get back on target and learn some new skills. In my internet search for a school to learn the skills that I had decided would be best for me to pursue, I came across the Koenig-Solutions web site, and immediately became excited at the idea of combining an IT learning experience with a real life adventure/experience. I was really impressed at how well done and serious their web site is. Well, the idea took hold and stayed, since I didn't even find one other school that was even slightly convincing or knowledgeable and prepared to answer all questions and doubts as Koenig was - in all of Italy, where I am living.

I was on the MCSD .NET C# program – regular track, in Goa. I came knowing full well that Microsoft advises having a few years experience before coming to these courses, but in my circumstances I knew that I needed to get a start in this new field as soon as I could. It is an extremely intense course of study. Classes are 6 days a week, full time, and you really do need to study for hours every day. There certainly have been moments when I or other ‘schoolmates' became discouraged and disheartened, by the intensity of the course, or from failing an exam. But with perseverance, I know that whoever sincerely made efforts has gained so much, and have succeeded in achieving their goals! The instructor was a very good teacher. He really knew the material very well and was a very kind and helpful person as well. He also speaks English well and clearly and I had absolutely no problem understanding. I was glad to have had the same teacher, for the full length of the course. The whole staff have been kind and helpful, sincere and very dear. Our every request was addressed and honored. I feel this is a place with a very big and open heart.

In its own way it is a simple and small business, but it is run with such integrity, care and attention to every detail!

I've actually had very little time to have an India experience, but tried to take advantage of every little chance I had. I feel lucky to have stayed at the lovely Hotel Prainha, in Dona Paola. It must be queen of the budget hotels. The rooms are at a very nice level, even by western standards. There are no insects or rodents, as I feared there might be. They even provide the mosquito killer thing that you plug into the wall – but it isn't even necessary to use it every day. The grounds are pretty and well kept. And there is a nice pool, which has been great to swim in every day that I could, after class. Having a bit of exercise seems to help with studying as well. It also has a private beach. (but, I must say, the water isn't the clear blue that I had hoped to see, and to be able to go snorkeling in. It is pretty brown, actually! They say it is because of the fineness of the sand.) A number of us Koenig students would take advantage of this beautiful environment, and study outside – at the tables of the restaurant, or on lounge chairs or even on the hammocks – on Sundays, or after school! What better way to study, than with the sound of lapping waves on one side, a pool on the other, and the sound of the coconut palm fronds rustling overhead in the almost continuous refreshing breeze! To me it seems an ideal way to study, and I enjoyed it immensely. I must say it is truly idyllic! The hotel staff was helpful in trying to organize electrical outlets for those of us that used our laptops outside. A number of the students felt distracted studying outside, so they comfortably studied in their rooms, and you wouldn't see them for days at a time. The students that come here are all very serious about learning and taking advantage of all that these intense courses have to offer. It is also nice that it is very international – in the people this school attracts. I have met many fine people, and am grateful for that as well. Since everyone is on different points in different courses and studying intently, the shared moments are rare, but also a significant, and precious part of being able to study in this type of environment. So, there have been special moments and some new friends made.

When possible, I enjoy having dinners with someone. The food in this hotel isn't anything special, I must say, but to compensate there are two great and very inexpensive restaurants just a 3 minute walk from the hotel … Nautica and Sea Pebbles. It has been a dining/culinary adventure as well, trying all the wonderful vegetarian dishes that India has to offer! They both have lovely views as well, of course … and are outdoor, as everything is here.

It seems that a number of people do get some stomach problems during their stay, but it is minor and passes quickly enough. For me, it worked well to not eat for a few days. Since the stomach pain obviously increased with each thing I ate, I just decided to starve those buggers in my stomach to death. Since that first time, I haven't had any other problems. You must avoid drinking the tap water, or even having ice cubes in drinks, unless there is some guarantee that they are made from bottled water.

I often took a little walk after eating the lunch that was ordered from local restaurants for us, to get out of the air-conditioned training center and to see and ‘feel' a bit of India. It is refreshing to go out and see this poor, yet wonderful country. I marvel at how different it is. It is my first time in a third world country. I have traveled a lot, but never have I felt so foreign and really different, as here. Now I understand the term ‘third world' in a new way. I don't really understand how these people live, even here in this 'well off ‘ area of Goa . We take so very much for granted, and I never fully realized to what extent. These people manage to live, well and apparently contently enough, on a fraction of what we brazenly waste. But, going to the Sunday morning church service at the little local church by the hotel, I can feel a devotion in these people that is rare in the western world. There is something so pure and simple and beautiful about it, that I am moved every time, by its strength. And they all come to Mass in their real Sunday best, with many of the women in their beautiful and colorful traditional dress, and so clean and ironed and well groomed, with their long dark hair so neatly pulled back.

I have been touched by each personal contact in these weeks – from the Koenig staff and fellow ‘schoolmates' to taxi and rickshaw drivers to tailors and dentists (it is a great place to have dental work done, as it costs a fraction of what they charge in European countries – and there is a nice and good one just downstairs, right near the training center), to people on the bus, or in the beauty salon/massage parlor (yes, massages are an acceptable, above board and common thing in India. In fact, the women give the women, and the men give the men – massages!) … etc…etc….
Now I am off to a second phase of my trip. Through a contact of a schoolmate, I made arrangements to go to Mumbai to get some hands on training in a small IT company. I am sad to leave the little protected environment of Koenig and Hotel Prainha, but since I came having very little .Net C# background, I feel this is an important part of my training and that it is the next step that is necessary in the path I am pursuing.

I do heartily recommend for anyone entertaining the idea of continuing their IT education, to take the leap of faith … and come, enjoy and learn!

I will fondly remember it all.