There are many different ways to talk about wood…

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…

Information overload

The last few days have been spent slowly and painfully trying to gether information on unemployment benefit II and how to get started as a freelance translator in Germany.

As far as freelancing is concerned I am clear on only two things.
1) Before I start I have to get a tax number to put on my bills
2) Doing my taxes at the end of the year will suddenly become a lot more complicated, which is nice considering I haven’t done my taxes for last year yet because the forms confused me.

And the more I learn about unemployment benefit II the less I want to actually have to apply for it.
Apparantly I’m allowed to earn up to 100 euros on the side while claiming unemployment benefit II (or ALG II, which is what the Germans call it and which is soo much easier to type). Any more than 100 euros and they start taking bits of it off me. This counts for all other types of what they consider “income” as well. For example, if I were to get money back from the electricity company that would be income. And if I ever do actually get round to doing my taxes, which would result in my travel expenses being paid back, that too counts as income.

Also, if the boyfriend wants to give me money… to help with the rent for example, and the employment agency sees that money from him is going into my bank account they will assume that I have a partner who is able to support me financially and am lying about the fact that I live alone to try and get more benefits out of them. Either that or they’ll decide it must be “income” from a source that I didn’t bother to tell them about, in which case they will again take bits of it off me (if I’ve understood the German correctly I get 20% taken off me for any income between 100 and 800 euros). I’m not sure what they would do if someone gave me cash which I then went and paid into my bank account… probably drag me in to question about this cash that I apparantly had lying around but didn’t declare on their form (yes, one of the forms actually has a section for you to declare how much cash you have. Huh?!).

As if losing your job wasn’t bad enough without all these complications. I don’t remember having half as much trouble getting job seeker’s allowance in England (which I did between finishing uni and going to Austria, just to get a bit of money in my pocket for the summer).
My advice to you all… do not become unemployed in Germany. Unless you’ve been paying your unemployment insurance for more than a year, in which case you’ll get unemployment benefit I which by all accounts is much less complicated.