On the Road

This past summer was filled with unforgettable adventures and experiences as we hit the road in Europe to share and exchange knowledge with colleagues in four countries, via two different workshops in two languages (English and German). As wonderful as it was, by the time the last workshop rolled around, we were ready to prop up our feet and to stop living out of a suitcase, and Dagy was tired of carrying the laptop and acting as pro bono assistant and much-needed travel coordinator.

Even though we don’t have to leave our own homes to make contacts in today’s interconnected online world , there is simply no substitute for meeting colleagues in person. Also, reading about Amsterdam (see picture) isn’t the same as actually going there, walking alongside the canals, buying your own tulips, eating a herring sandwich, and enjoying the picturesque scenery. Hence, in spite of sore back, blistery feet, delayed flights, and overcrowded trains: we would do it again in a heartbeat. Here is what we learned on the road in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria.

  • It only takes two very driven people to put on an entire conference. Last year at the ATA conference in New York City, two colleagues, English<->Dutch financial translators Annie Tadema and Astrid van der Veert, approached Judy after her presentation and asked if she had any plans for the following summer. Turns out the Dutch association is essentially dormant, so Annie and Astrid decided to organize an entire conference by themselves. Of all the events we attended, this one-day conference, where well-known Dutch translator and Web 2.0 expert Cora Bastiaansen also spoke, was our favorite. It was held in the stunning Centraal Museum in downtown Utrecht, just outside of Amsterdam. Lunch was served in the breathtaking museum gardens, and there was even a professional photographer to take profile pictures of each attendee.
  • Our colleagues are wonderful. A colleague in Germany got on her motorcycle and rode from Nürnberg to Munich in 90-degree heat to attend the Web 2.0 workshop. Another colleague, who lives in Slovakia, traveled all the way to Prague, the Czech Republic, to join us. Earlier this summer, a colleague in Chicago e-mailed Judy all kinds of information on eateries so she would be well fed before her presentation. In Innsbruck, students at the Institute of Translation Studies practiced their simultaneous interpreting skills into five languages and didn’t even complain when Judy briefly forgot her oath to speak slowly (sorry!).
  • Fellow linguists are thirsty for professional development. Judy spoke in charming Graz, in southern Austria, in mid-June. While the weather in Europe during our trip was generally average at best, in Graz it was brutally hot. Think 90 degrees, 80 percent humidity, and no air conditioning. If we hadn't been the speaker and the speaker's twin, we would have hit the lake with our floaties. However, only two out of 30 attendees did not show up. Everyone else was there with bells on – and smartly, many girls with bikinis under their summer dresses.
  • Getting lost can be fun. Finding the hotel in Munich (very close to the train station) should have been a breeze, but for some reason, it still took 30 minutes (so many corners, so many decisions). However, in the meantime, we located a charming café for breakfast, the nearest ATM, and scouted out the next morning’s running route (on which we got lost). We learned that we don’t always need to know where I am going.
  • Just like their American counterparts, professional associations in Europe are top-notch. The German association’s (BDÜ) Bavaria division is fantastic. They have their own very modern offices with a conference room and equipment. The Czech Association of Translators (JTP) in Prague is the co-owner of the Art Deco building where their offices (3 gorgeous rooms with high ceilings) are located. UNIVERSITAS Austria, the Austrian Interpreters’ and Translators’ Association, where Dagy serves on the board, has the best tcotchkes. My favorite is the door hangers that say “Quiet please! Translator at work!” (my dog ignores it and barks anyway).  UNIVERSITAS borrowed the idea from the very gracious BDÜ.
  • Food and wine tastes better when consumed outside in a big group. While learning from and with others during seminars is wonderful, sharing a meal and a glass of wine takes the new relationships to the next level. There’s nothing like breaking bread and getting to know each other in a comfy restaurant or beer garden on a balmy summer evening. 


Anke Betz on August 9, 2010 at 1:00 AM said...

Thanks for the honorable mention! It was kind of crazy to ride to Munich in that heat, but well worth it!!!
Thanks again for an awesome seminar!

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on August 12, 2010 at 11:32 PM said...

You are very welcome, Anke. We are still incredibly impressed that you drove that far in the heat. Great to meet you, and thanks for stopping by to read our blog!

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The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

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