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Hi, my name is Michael Albanese. I’ve lived in London for the past ten years although I’m originally an American from Miami Beach...

Michael Albanese (United Kingdom), Oracle10g DBA OCA & OCP 20 Oct to 04 Nov 2008

Hi, my name is Michael Albanese. I’ve lived in London for the past ten years although I’m originally an American from Miami Beach. I took the 10g OCA and OCP training courses from Koenig at the Dehradun training centre. My experience with Oracle goes back a long way, to the late 80’s and version 6.036. I also worked for Oracle Corporation for six years, 1998 to 2004. In fact, it was Oracle Corp. that relocated me to the UK. Despite all the time I spent working as an Oracle and eBusiness Suite DBA, I never seemed to find the time to become certified. The recent redundancy at my last job forced the issue. With the current economic downturn I figured I better be able to add Oracle Certified Professional to my CV if I wanted to remain competitive.

My first contact with Koenig in Delhi office by email. kept me informed every step of the way before I arrived in India. We exchanged emails almost every weekday for over three weeks mainly because I had a million and one questions that Shalini or one of the other Koenig staff happily answered. My pickup at the New Delhi Airport, first night’s stay in Delhi, and transportation to Dehradun were all arranged by Koenig. I was met by a Koenig representative even though my Air India flight arrived in Delhi at 02:30 in the morning!

Delhi is like Marmite. You either love it or you hate it! I fall into the latter category. So, I was glad that I chose to have my training courses in Dehradun. Dehradun is the capital of the India state of Uttaranchal. It’s large enough to have enough shops, restaurants, etc. to satisfy most people’s requirements, yet it not overwhelming like Delhi and Dehradun’s air quality is certainly much better! Dehradun is near to where the foot hills of the Himalayans begin their dramatic rise and it’s just a short cab ride to the foot hills themselves.
Koenig provides a pre-assessment test to determine a student’s level of knowledge in their required subject. Although the pre-assessment indicated that I could have taken the fast track courses, I decided to take the regular tack as I had the time. I’m happy that I did as even the regular track is very intense, seven hours of instruction, six days a week not to mention at least three hours of self study every night. I was very impressed with the standard of instruction provide by Koenig. The class size was very small, five students in the OCA and four in the OCP. My instructor, was very knowledgeable, with a lot of professional experience. He also took time to ensure that all of his students understood the course material. It paid off as every student in both training courses passed their exams.

Some tips:
If you decided to study in Dehradun, request a farmhouse stay. The farmhouse complex is in a beautiful, bucolic setting and it’s only a short walk to the Rajpur Road where you can easily obtain transportation into town. It’s also quiet, whilst the four star hotel is located right off the main road in a very noisy part of the city. Every afternoon at the farmhouse you can hear the Tibetan Buddhist monks at the nearby monastery chanting. It’s very soothing and sure beats the road noise of downtown Dehradun!

Bring an empty suitcase. Almost everything major brand in the UK has an Indian equivalent at about a tenth of the UK price. Even though British travel television shows recommend that you bring your own over the counter medications with you whilst travelling, there’s really no need to in India. Everything is available in India and it’s usually manufactured by major brand names such as Bayer. My anti-malarials which cost £45 in the UK and are not covered by the NHS only cost me RS20, 25p, in India. Familiar brand names such as Cadbury chocolates are readily available in India. Clothes and shoes are an incredible bargain. So, please follow my advice, travel light, and buy what you need whilst in India.

Make sure you visit Mussoorie in the Himalayan foot hills. Koenig staff will make the arrangements and hire you a reputable driver for the day. It set me back only RS1,500 (£19). The driver took me to Kempty Falls, the Company Garden, Mussoorie, and a Hindu temple. If you need any particular services such as a driver, tour, etc. have the Koenig staff arrange it rather than arranging it yourself. The Koenig staff are knowledgeable and happy to make arrangements for their students and can certainly obtain a better deal than you can yourself. They can also handle any problems, although I never really had any.

Most guide books contain pages of don’ts and precautions about India. It’s enough to make the would-be visitor paranoid. I found the people in Dehradun to be very friendly and never felt unease at all walking through the town centre at night, something I cannot say about London! One Don’t I do agree with, however, is don’t attempt to drive on your own. Always hire an Indian driver. As far as I can tell, road rules in India are non-existent. Also, even if you drove yourself in India without mishap, if you attempt to use your Indian driving skills in the UK at best you’ll get your license revoked, at worst you’ll be killed in a road rage incident.

Allow yourself at least two weeks after completing your studies to tour India. If you don’t, you’ll regret it as the busy course schedule, even for the regular track courses, allows little time for site seeing. As I’ve just completed my 10g OCA / OCP, I’m following my own advice and taking a week off in Goa. I’ll then be taking my RHCE (Red Hat Certification Engineer) course from Koenig at their training centre in Goa. At the end of RHCE, I plan on touring southern India for an additional six weeks and then finally returning the UK.


Michael was back with us for RHCE Boot Camp at GOA. Click here to read his latest experience