The company that I work for is switching over to using a new set of software for our products. Because of this, several members of our development staff were required to travel to our development studio in Manchester, United Kingdom in order to be trained on the new software.
Downtown Manchester, January 30, 2015.
As one of the senior developers in my office, I was asked to be one of the representatives of our studio for this training, and I had the good fortune of being able to go on my very first trip abroad. It wasn't technically my first visit to a foreign country, as I've visited Canada several times. Nor was it my first trip over an ocean, since I've visited Hawai'i. But the trip to Canada was many years ago; before a passport was even needed to cross the border, so it didn't feel like as big of a deal.
The training element was a bit underwhelming. The training schedule coincided with a major release deadline, so the engineer who was supposed to be providing the training and answering our questions had limited availability due to some last minute crises that he had to handle. So instead, we had a room full of people from different development studios in different countries all trying to bumble our way through the new software together.
But we did still learn some things, and even taught the lead engineer a thing or two!
A piece of advice to tech companies: don't schedule training sessions to begin a couple days before a major software release deadline - especially if you are flying developers in from halfway around the world to participate.
A British perspective on the World Wars
It wasn't all work though. I did try to do some touristy things.
I arrived in Manchester early Sunday morning after a red-eye flight from Philadelphia. After checking into the hotel to drop off my luggage, I took the cable car trolley back into the city and visited the Imperial War Museum (North). The main museum is in London (which I did not get to visit, other than a lay-over on the return trip), but there is a small branch of the museum in Manchester as well.
A tank displayed outside the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, U.K.
One of the interesting things about this museum (compared to most history museums in the States) is the emphasis on the domestic impacts of war. Several exhibits were dedicated exclusively to the effects that the world wars had on the general populace [More]