A few years ago I joined a group on Facebook called “British Forces Brats”. Somebody has posted one of those “You know you are…. when” lists on there. I’m sure you all know the type… “You know you’re a student when”, “You know you’re German when”, “You know you’re a child of the 80s when”… that kind of thing. This particular list was “You know you’re a forces brat when…”. I thought the list was pretty accurate until I got to an item that read something like “You get restless if you have to live in the same place for more a few years”. Naaah, I thought. That one’s not me. I’ve been in Karlsruhe for a while now and I’m not thinking of moving any time soon. If anything, I’m glad not to have to pack everything up again for a while! I was forgetting though, that despite living in the same town for a while (5 and a half years now – the longest I’ve lived in any place in one stretch ever is six years!), at that point I had just started my fourth job since moving back here in 2006. I’ve now been in that job for 2 and a half years, and although I still love it, recently getting up at 6 a.m. to get ready for the day has been getting harder. I’ve actually got into the habit of setting my alarm for about 20 minutes before I need to get up because it takes that many snoozes for me to drag myself out of bed! Here we go again, I think as I’m leaving the house each day. Same old same old. I wish I could do something new for a change! (It doesn’t help that most of my translations are for the same 3 or 4 customers and mostly involve the same technical or IT-related topics – the interesting stuff which involves some degree of creativity tends to go to my colleague, who is a better translator than me – at least in terms of style and the number of mistakes made). Maybe it isn’t living in one place for a while that causes forces brats to get so restless, but seeing or doing the same thing day in, day out for weeks, months or even years. Most people need a break from routine once in a while, but perhaps it’s more extreme in those who are used to only being in one place for 5 years at the most. In which case, I guess that item on the list does apply to me after all…
Last night, while waiting for the boyfriend to come home, I decided it would be a fantastic idea to search Amazon for translation resources, just in case this mad idea of becoming a freelance translator actually turns out to be a good one.
The obvious place to start was with dictionaries. After all, nobody can translate without at least one dictionary. So I started by looking up the specialist dictionaries we use at work and went on from there.
I was amazed by 2 things. Number one, the price. OK, I was expecting them to be quite expensive (my big Collins German-English / English-German dictionary cost about 40 quid and that was 4 years ago), but some of these prices are ridiculous. OK, this one is still quite reasonable at a mere 12 pounds, but how about this… a used book for over 200 pounds?!? I wish I was joking! Admittedly it is slightly better on the German Amazon (only 120 euros for a new one) but still… who has 120 euros just lying around? Looks like this translation lark will be an expensive business!
And the second thing that I was surprised by… how many subjects dictionaries exist for. Take a look at this one for example. A dictionary for Holz. That’s wood to us English speakers. Yep, that’s right. Wood. As in the stuff you get from trees. How many words can there possibly be relating to that topic? Well, enough for an entire dictionary it seems. Or how about an English/German mathematical dictionary. And there was me thinking maths was all about numbers. It seems I have been mistaken all these years. But this is the one we all really want. The Yacht Dictionary. Oh yes. Becasue how could any book collection ever be complete without it?
Y’know, I’m not actually sure where I was going with this post. I kind of had this vague idea that it could be an interesting topic, but either it really, really isn’t or I just can’t write (spare my feelings and tell me it’s the former, ok 😉 ) Either way, I’m still going to hit publish. It’s not like I have anything else to talk about these days…
Looking for a job as a translator in Germany? Don’t want to actually have to leave the house to do so (or you’re not actually in Germany and can’t go wandering round the town you’re in looking for people to talk to)? Then read on and all shall be revealed…
I’m going to assume you’ve already checked out the usual sources (employment agency website, monster, jobsrapido etc.). If you haven’t done that bit get on it now then come back. We shall wait.
Next, get thee to Google and type in the word “Übersetzer” (translator) followed by the name of the town you want to work in. The first thing that appears is a list of Google maps results. Click on the bit where it offers you more Google maps results. Now right click on the first translation agency and open it in a new tab (if you don’t do this you’ll have to keep clicking the back button later and it will all get very annoying). This takes you to yet another Google maps page, this time for the individual translation agency. There should also be a website address on this page. Click there. It should open in a new tab (or possibly a new window if you’re using Internet Explorer. I don’t know, for I am not). You may now close the Google maps page for that agency.
Check the website for a link that says something like “jobs”, “careers” or “employment”. This is where you will find the jobs they currently have available. 90% of them will tell you they’re “always on the look out for new freelancers” – fine if you want to be a freelancer, not so good if you want an actual job. If the page actually lists opportunities at the company bookmark it for later reference. And if you can’t find a careers link try clicking on “contact” instead – sometimes it’s hidden there. If you don’t find anything the page can be closed. Likewise if they only want freelancers.
Repeat the above for the next translation agency on the list. And the next one. And the one after that. Try to pay some attention to where the map is taking you though – remember, the lower down the list you get the further away from the original town the agency will be.
When you find yourself clicking on the name of what you think is going to be a translation agency (after all, you did type “translator” into the searchy bit) but which actually turns out to be a private investigators, then realise it’s almost midnight and you’ve been searching for 2 hours it’s probably time to call it a day.
Now you can revisit all the pages you bookmarked and start sending out your CV.
And that, my friends, is what I did with myself last night. Apart from the bit where I send out my CV… for that I have to wait until Jan checks it and sends it back to me.
At least nobody can say I’m not trying to find a job!
Just a quick post tonight because I am tired. I worked hard all day (translated over 2,000 words!) then came home and finished an essay, which I have just handed in. It’s now 20 past 10 (which isn’t really that late I know) and all I want to do is sleeeep… preferably until next week, but as that isn’t an option until 6:40 tomorrow morning will have to do.
But… I have internet! The men from Kabel-BW were here today and after about an hour and a half, during which we had to collect the keys to the cellar from my downstairs neighbour then head aaall the way back up the stairs to disturb my poor next-door neighbours (who were having tea at the time) to get into the loft (the entrance to which is in their flat) where the men spent ages trying different cables to see if any of them actually caused power to flow through the cable sockets in my flat… yes, it’s all very confusing. The nice men did eventually manage to get it sorted though, and they left me a modem and a telephone, so now I have a landline and, much more importantly, access to my lovely, lovely blog and to facebook and my email and all those things I have been missing sooo desperately.! I worship thee oh Kabel-BW, providers of the internet!
And now to bed. I shall write something more interesting tomorrow. After I catch up on all my favourite blogs. I have missed you all, my dear blogging friends, and I shall be round to see you as soon as I can. Promise!
I feel ill today. Actually it all started when I woke up with a sore throat yesterday. I managed to forget about it for most of the day though in all the excitement of sorting out flat stuff. The soreness came back in the evening though, after Jan left. This morning it was no worse, but no better either, and I’ve been cold all day despite the fact that it’s a beautifully warm day. I’m also aching all over and my head feels like it wants to float away. And, just to add to my woes, I’ve discovered a patch of eczema on my hand. Usually I only get eczema when I’m stressed or if I use a product that I’m allergic to, and since I haven’t used anything new lately I’m going with the stress option.
So why am I stressed you ask? Well, apart from the whole money thing (pleeease let my pay go in before the rent goes out!) there’s the fact that I’m moving in six days and yet anyone entering my room for the first time could be forgiven for thinking I haven’t even started packing yet. I’ve no idea when I’m supposed to get it all done either considering I have to work this week and I never get home before 6:30pm, ever. And that’s when I come straight home – if I have to go shopping or something it’s usally somewhere between 7 and 7:30. Except on Fridays when I finish early. And, to add to all that, I have stuff to do for uni. First of all there’s a practice translation potfolio due in tomorrow. I have done most of the actually translating part but still need to type it up, write an analysis (this text appeared in blah blah and has a target audience of such and such. The style of writing is such and such) and commentary (what problems I had when translating the text. Why I chose to translate particular things the way I did). That’s not soo bad though, it’s only a practoce. I should at least hand something in though as I completely missed the last one. But if it’s not finished the world will not end. Noo, that’s not a major problem. What is a major problem is the actual assessed piece of coursework, due on 20th March. Yes, that is 20 days away, I know. The problem is for most of those 20 days I am going to be without internet which kind of makes finding a text to translate online a little difficult. And I also have to find other texts to put into the portfolio. And the dictionary I usually use to translate is also an online one. I do have a very good paper dictionary, but it doesn’t have a forum where I can get help with particularly strange phrasing. Neither does it have Google to define words I’ve never heard of and show me pictures to help me figure out what’s going on. So I basically need to try and get everything but the translation difficulties part of that done by Saturday morning as well. And those are just the major things that need doing in. Add in all the normal every day things (like trying to get all my laundry done before I move out as it will be a while before I can afford a washing machine plus actually finding time to eat, shower breathe…) and you have one very busy Bev on your hands. Soo I think I have good reason to be stressed out. No wonder I’m not feeling brilliant!
On a brighter note some of you may remember my Happiness is… blog from a few weeks ago. It was part of a competition by Odette, aka Little Miss Firefly and I actually won! Yep, mine was the first name to be picked out of the hat… metaphorically speaking anyway. Actually she used random.org to pick the winners, I just thought the hat thing sounded good. Anyway, enough waffling. Go check out Odette’s blog to see what I won. And in the meantime I shall get back to my attempts to translate and pack at the same time…
When I was discussing the signing of the new contract with my boss he asked me what my plans are, careerwise, for the next few years. “Well…,” I began, “I would like to stay here for another year at least, maybe two. Definitely finish my Master’s. Try to do increasingly complicated and technical translations and hopefully work on getting into a specialist subject. Beyond that I haven’t really thought about it.””OK,” he replied. “Fair enough. But you should think about it. Two years is not as long as you think, it will soon be here. Ms. K (colleague) has very definite plans for the future. She knows exactly where she wants to be in 2 years, in 5 years…”
My first thought was ‘You mean people actually do that?!’ By that I mean plan every step of their career, actually knowing where they want to be at various points in the future. I certainly don’t. Until about 18 months ago I didn’t even know what I wanted to do with my life. For a while I thought it might be cool to be a teacher, so I tried being a language assistant and, while it was sometimes enjoyable (especially in Austria where the kids were nice), most of them time I hated it. Plus by the end of the first year I had realised I was no good at it. English conversation and playing games I’m fine with, but actually teaching people stuff that they don’t already know? Hopeless doesn’t even begin to cover it. Translation on the other hand I am good at (finally I found something I can do! Yippee!) And it’s something I really enjoy as well. I love the feeling of satisfaction I get when I read through a translation I’ve done and realise that yes, it actually makes sense. I can definitely imagine being a translator for the rest of my life… well, the professional part of it anyway. But making specific goals?? Honestly, I wouldn’t even know where to start…
Well after racking my brains for so long yesterday trying to come up with interesting things to be honest about yesterday inspiration seems to have deserted me today. I have absolutely nothing to write about. All I know is I’m soo glad it’s Friday! I think this may just have been the longest week ever. I actually thought I was going to fall alseep today… and that was before lunch time. I was sitting there reading my way through a contract and my eyes kept trying to fall closed. Not good. Then I spent the afternoon reading through the computer instruction type texts that I’ve been translating all week. I found hundreds of mistakes. Literally. Aaarggh! Other than that it has been an incredibly slow day. The phone rang exactly once, and even then it was someone to speak to the boss. You’d think having nothing much to do once in a while would be nice, but instead it’s just boring and makes the day seem never ending. I was actually relieved when the boss came in at 3:30 and said we might as well go home. It has also been chucking down with rain all day today, which led to the discovery that my boots, that I just had reheeled over Christmas, are apparantly no longer waterproof. My socks got wet on the way to catch the tram this morning and remained wet all day. Most uncomfortable. Pity my poor feet please.
There is one good thing about today though (apart from the fact that it’s Friday) – I’m off to look at a flat in an hour. Finally I feel like things are moving forward! Stay tuned for a detailed description of it (I bet you’re all really looking forward to that incredibly exciting post…)
I don’t really have any particular point to make today (do I ever?), so I shall make this post a bullet pointy type list of whatever comes into my head, I think.
– I actually did something for uni last night, believe it or not. I downloaded the German text to be translated then, in the absence of a printer, copied it out by hand. The text is around 650 words long, I managed to write them all down without understanding a single one of them (okay, slight exaggeration. I did manage to get that the text is about all the money that’s been poured into building up East Germany and how it’s just not working). Hopefully by the time I get round to actually translating the text it will make more sense!
– Jan bought me Breakfast at Tiffany’s (the book) for Christmas and I finished reading it yesterday yesterday. It’s really good. Even better than the film, of which I am also a fan. I was kind of expecting that though – films are almost never as good as the book they’re based on. The main difference between the book and the film is the way they end. If you’re a fan of Hollywood happy endings don’t bother buying the book.
– I am ridiculously tired again, despite the fact that it’s only Tuesday. It may have something to do with the fact that I spent all day translating a 50 page user manual for some computer program. It was a very long day. Also, I still think employees should be given Wednesday off work. Who was it that decided we should work for 5 whole days in a row and only have 2 to recover anyway? And is he (I’m assuming it was a “he”) still alive? Cos if he is I’d like to track him down and kick him…
– My health insurance fund sent me a magazine. These people refuse to pay for my pill (that’s right Brits, there is no free contraception in Germany!) but they’re willing to waste money – not to mention trees – sending me magazines I will never read. Why?
– I just saw someone in Karstadt spend 303 euros on some wooden spoons and a set of pans. That means the pan set must have cost over 200. Is this normal?!? Also, the woman behind me in the queue asked the person at the till what the random vegetables she was buying were after they’d already been scanned in. Surely this is something you’d like to find out before you buy said vegetables?
That is all. I’m going for a shower now.
Well, the happy, positive blogging didn’t last long. Today it’s back to my usual moany self.
As we all know I only have about a month and a half left of my internship. At the end of January I shall find out whether they want to keep me on or not. At first I thought I was doing well, then I found out that although I am only good at a very small part of my job. I can translate. I can proofread. That is all I can do. I’m not good at project management. It requires me to be organised. Not one of my strong points. Never has been, never will be. I am also incapable of taking initiative, have no social competence, am no good at working in a team, possess very little common sense, am too quiet, don’t communicate enough, lack confidence, appear unmotivated… the list goes on. In the right kind of job with the right kind of boss and given time I could probably change those things. Unfortunately right now I’m not sure I have any of those things. I enjoy my job, but only the part that I’m good at. My bosses are nice enough but the kind of motivation I need is very different to what they (and most bosses to be honest) are willing or able to give. And as for time… well, I’ve been given until the end of January to prove I can do all those things. The result? I spend most of my time at work praying that there will be lots and lots for me to translate today (so I don’t have to ask for work, proving once again that I can’t figure out for myself what needs doing) and the rest of the time I spend worrying that I’m doing something wrong again without even realising it. I keep catching myself wondering whether, at this very moment, I look motivated and enthusiastic. I wonder whether I’m taking too long over this translation – should I have been finished by now? It’s exhausting, and it means that by the time I get home I don’t have the energy to do anything any more. I need to make some food, but I can’t even bring myself to walk to the kitchen, I was supposed to hand in a translation for uni today (luckily only a practice) but I haven’t even started yet. I have more Christmas presents to wrap but even that is entirely unappealing – and I actually enjoy wrapping presents!
I’m not sure how much longer this can go on. But there’s nothing I can do about it, cos like it or not I really, really need this job.
… if only I wasn’t so bloody tired.
Seriously, I’ve spent the whole day trying not to fall asleep at my desk. (HA! Wouldn’t have made a brilliant impression so aoon after the last talking to.) It didn’t help that I spent most of the morning proofreading a humongous SAP translation (SAP = Systems Applications and Products. Random database software. They have all their own random terminology that has to be stuck to at all costs even though half of it sounds utterly crap). Also I have had a headache all day.
Comfort food needed me thinks. Mashed potatoes with gravy for tea then.