How far is too far?

Yesterday I was asked to do a practice translation for one of the companies I applied for a job at. It was a hard translation, but I think I did ok. Then, after I’d sent it off, I decided to find out where exactly this company is up to now all I’ve had is the vague knowledge that it’s “near Stuttgart” and Stuttgart is “only about an hour away so I suppose this other place can’t be that far.”

So… a two hour* commute to work. That would be manageable, right?

* Actually, the train journey is anywhere between 1 hour 35 minutes and 2 hours 9 minutes depending on which speed train is running and how many times you have to change… worst case scenario being 3 times!! At least the company appears to be close to the train station there – only 15 minutes walk according to Google maps.

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…

How to hunt for translation jobs in Germany

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!

Mid-week moan

Today I:

– had the world’s quickest shower, because that’s the only kind you have time for when you stay in bed for an extra twenty minutes moaning softly to yourself every time the alarm goes off.

– realised as I was leaving the house that my purse wasn’t in my handbag and I had absolutely no idea where it was. This was followed by a couple of minutes of panic, until I found it in a carrier bag buried under the plates I bought yesterday.

– missed my tram because the stupid traffic lights refused to turn green and let me cross the road to the stop. I then walked to the next stop – not becasue I thought I could catch up with the tram (although I got there in time to see it pulling away – if I’d just gone straight to the other stop I would have caught it!) but to catch another tram to the train station, where I was able to change onto my own tram. Amazingly I still managed to get a seat.

– received an email at work regarding a text that I translated and my colleague proofread. Apparantly neither of us did a particularly good job – the text is still full of typos! Luckily the customer hasn’t actually complained (yet!), just asked me to explain what the words should be, but if she finds many more typos I may be in big trouble…

– Got home from work to find the strawberries in my fridge had gone mouldy and the Biomüll (food type rubbish) bin smelled so bad it literally made me want to puke (the world’s worst housewife strikes again…). Also, there was liquid floating around in the bottom of the bin. Never good in Biomüll. Then, once I’d emptied I realised I don’t have anything suitable for cleaning disgusting smelling bins, so it’s currently sitting in the sink full of hot water and washing up liquid. Cos that’s gonna do a tonne of good.

I think it’s about time this day came to an end now, don’t you?

Where do YOU want to be in X years 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…

Finally over

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…)

Saying nothing in many words

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.

I am alive…

Just, you know, in case you were wondering. The evil cold of doom is still lurking, meaning my throat is killing, food tastes like ash and every muscle in my body aches, but I haven’t succumbed to the chaise longue of death just yet. (If you don’t understand that last comment you’re clearly one of those unenlightened souls who hasn’t discovered Katyboo yet. This is something that needs to be remedied. Click on the link now. I shall wait. My blog isn’t going anywhere, promise).

So I had my first Spanish lesson last night. It was fun! The three hours went by remarkably fast. Hmm, that reminds me, must buy the book before next week’s lesson…

The progress meeting was… well, exactly as I expected really. Basically I was told I have all the necessary hard skills (ie. I can translate & proofread well and they’re really pleased with that side of things) but I have no social competence. She actually said that! Well, she said it in German, but it meant that. Ok, maybe social skills would be a better translation (German is Sozialkompetenz) but you knew what I meant. So, I have 2 months to prove that I do have social skills, to become more integrated into the team, to learn to take initiative and say the right thing and convince my superiors that I’m motivated and enthusiastic and want to be an active part of their team. Then I’ll be allowed to stay. If I can’t manage to do all that stuff by the end of January I shall be job hunting again.
Anyone know where I can get a personality transplant?

Stuff that has annoyed me over the past few days

1. Not being able to sleep. The most annoying thing is that I’m actually really tired – too tired even to read, but as soon as I switch out the light every trace of sleepiness goes away and I’m left lying there, tired but wide awake. Grrr. The boyfriend is coming over tonight though, perhaps that will make things better.

2. The announcement on my tram yesterday. “Crackle. Hiss. Passangers. Mumble, mumble. Fizzle. Karlsruhe. Mumble, mumble. Crackle. Thank you.” You’d think by now someone would have invented a tram announcement thingy that could actually be understood!

3. Shop assistants. Why is it that they only ever offer assistance when you’re perfectly fine on your own. No, I do not help to walk the six steps to the other side of the shop and pick up a roll of sellotape thank you very much. But when you do need help they all seem to magically become incredible busy or get kidnapped by aliens.

4. Finally finding the perfect present for one of my relatives only to discover that none of the shops in Karlsruhe has it. Not one! It has now been ordered from Amazon, meaning I have to pay extra because of postage. Again, grrr.

5. The fact that I forgot to put a book in my bag yesterday and had nothing to read all the way to work. And all the way back. That’s an hour’s worth of tram journey with no reading material. Dooom!

6. The presenter on the radio station we listen to during our lunch break at work. She’s just so goddamn cheerful!
And just to balance things out a bit, here are some things that have amused me today:

– When you type in “subject to German law” on Google UK, the second link to come up is about strip searching. (In case you’re wondering why I typed that into Google it was to do with a translation I was proofreading.)

– They played Teenage Dirtbag by Wheetus on the radio today. The word gun was blocked out but they left dick and ass in. That’s Germans for ya – bad language is fine but please don’t sing about weapons! I know, not that funny but it amused me. Simple minds and all that…

Thoughts

I’ve just been looking through some random stats on my blog. It seems my most used tag is “boyfriend” with a total of 43 times. Second is work with 22 uses and in third place comes books, 21 uses. I’m pretty sure that says something about me. I don’t know what but I’m pretty sure it’s misleading. How have I managed to mention work more often than books? Must do something about that.

I need to do a translation for uni. It was actually supposed to be handed in on Monday. Oops. Not even a month into the year and I’m behind already. Luckily it’s only a practice piece so I won’t lose any marks for handing it in late or anything. It would probably be a good idea to get on and do it though.

How is it Wednesday already? I’m sure it was only just Friday. I always thought putting the clocks back was meant to give us another hour. Instead I seem to have lost about 72.

Time going fast does have its advantages though. It’s pay day on Friday. And I get extra money starting this month. I’ve already had my wage slip and seen how much I’ll be earning from now. I’m going to be rich. Rich I tell you! (Actually I’m still going to be poor, but rich compared to what I was before. And at least I’ll be able to afford a few decent Christmas presents this year).

And oh my gosh, I’ve just realised my internship is half over already. Three more months to go. And after that? We’ll see… it depends whether the boss decides to give me a proper job.

OK, enough procrastinating. Time to get on with the translation.