Eurodan in English

July 30, 2003

I've now had my provisional start-date for my 100 days of interpreting at the European Commission - it's 6 October, which is the 'middle batch' of four out of an unprecedented twelve successful 'insertees'. (Keep up at the back!)

You see, normally there are only a small handful of candidates who pass the insertion test and get taken onto the scheme each year, but this year there were twelve. Fancy that! And since letting so many newbies loose on the interpreting of Europe's meetings would probably lead to more diplomatic upsets than an Italian presidency, they're having a bit of a phased roll-out.

The first batch of four start in mid-September, then there's 'my' group on 6 October, and the final group in early November.

Maybe I've been watching too much reality TV, but it all does sound a bit Big Brother-ish, doesn't it? I hope they don't start voting us off on a weekly basis!

Still, at least it's nice to have a date to plan towards. You know how much I like to plan...

Posted by Eurodan at 1:26 PM | Comments (1)

July 27, 2003

I think, it's fair to say, that I was a rather eccentric little boy.

Apparently (and I have absolutely no memory of this, but my parents and sisters have always sworn blind it's true), I used to delight in catching or picking up bumble bees from flowers in the garden and cupping them in my hands. I'd listen to them buzz - they were no doubt somewhat bemused at their plight - and I'd proudly show other family members what I'd found, calling them "teddy bears".

Needless to say, the rest of my family were always aghast, worried that I might one day pick up a normal bee or a wasp by mistake, and end up with a nasty sting, but that never did happen...

Funny, eh?

Posted by Eurodan at 9:10 PM | Comments (2)

July 23, 2003

One of the benefits of living back at home again is that I can go into the garage (where most of my life is still stored, quietly decaying in cardboard boxes), and fish out things of interest from time to time.

One such treasure which I've just rescued is my ice-cream maker, which I'm taking out for a spin this evening. Making home-made ice-cream has a great deal to recommend it, believe me! (Although I'm not sure my arteries would agree!) There's that smug "I'm making something myself" feeling, coupled with the deliciousness of the final product, as well as the excitement of watching it set before your very eyes. Then there's the infinite variety of flavours you can make! It's vanilla today, but I might try white chocolate again soon.

Any suggestions?

Posted by Eurodan at 3:11 PM | Comments (5)

July 20, 2003

It's funny, but you'd think that after a year of such sustained hard graft, I'd be relieved that the summer is finally here and I can put my feet up, but no such luck! Truth be told, I'm raring for the autumn, now that I know what's ahead.

And try as I might, I can't shake the feeling that I've got a long, empty summer ahead, when to be honest, the reverse is true! Here's my to-do list:

- Write my dissertation
- Carry on working for Germanwings
- Do some exercise
- Sort out my dodgy knee
- Improve my Dutch (and keep my other languages going)
- Read up about Europe's institutions
- Buy a new suit
- Take a holiday
- Find a flat in Brussels and organise the move

So as you can see, it's not like I'm going to be at a loose end!

What's everyone else doing?

Posted by Eurodan at 9:56 PM | Comments (4)

July 15, 2003

Put the flags out!

I passed! Yippee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So it's Brussels this autumn, folks! (Perhaps I'll finally start writing regularly on the Dutch and French blogs now!)

I'm currently sitting in an overheated internet-cafe in Brussels, wearing my lucky mauve shirt, which has come through for me again, feeling over the moon.

I'm not sure I'm terribly coherent, as I've already had rather a boozy lunch to celebrate, but I think that one can allow oneself a short period of rejoicing at such times, don't you? ;-)

Posted by Eurodan at 4:18 PM | Comments (1)

July 13, 2003

In case you're wondering, here's my itinerary for the next couple of days:-

Monday AM: Train to Manchester Airport
Monday PM: Flight to Brussels. Meet Jonathan, have relaxing evening. Lie awake in bed until 4AM trying desperately to get to sleep.

Tue 9AM: The insertion test. Verdict is given then and there.
Tue 11AM: Probably all over by now...
Tue Evening: Sorrows-drowning/celebration dinner with Ali, Jon and friends.

Wed PM: Flight back to Manchester
Wed Evening: Back in front of the computer - update blog with the results.

It's Sunday night, and so far, so calm... I've spent a lovely, sunny weekend in Hessle, having barbecues and driving over to Cleethorpes, and generally getting into a rested, relaxed state of mind after a week of training. I now feel mentally and spiritually prepared - and so it's all just down to the day...

Posted by Eurodan at 10:44 PM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2003

I'm approaching the end of my training week in anticipation of the big test in Brussels on Tuesday. Now I know how those East German gymnasts must have felt, exercising morning noon and night "with a leotard full of hormones" as Victoria Wood so deftly put it.

Despite the importance of being in tip-top condition on the day of the test, I'm starting to think that the most important thing is being mentally and spiritually prepared for it, so that I'm in the right frame of mind to perform well in what will be an extremely high-pressure situation.

The main thing which I've realised is that it's me, and no-one else, who controls exactly how high-pressure the test situation will be, and that the best thing I can do to ensure that I'm not overly nervous is to make peace with both possible outcomes, good and bad, long before I actually go into the room.

Whatever happens on Tuesday morning, whether I pass the test or not, I've truly discovered over the course of the last year what it is that I actually want to do with my life, and that is something which is extremely valuable. Of course, now that I've identified that path, I'm eager to follow it as quickly as possible, but the important thing is to have found it - and one failed test, if it comes to that, needn't stand in my way. It's time, after years of career drifting, to play the long game.

Posted by Eurodan at 2:01 PM | Comments (1)

July 8, 2003

One of the things I've noticed about myself which I sort of wish I hadn't is that I seem to be some sort of snack gourmet (or perhaps junkie). Whenever I arrive at a destination in a different country, one of the things I really look forward to is going to the equivalent of the newsagent or street-food vendor and enjoying all those exotic yet cheap, everyday items we don't have at home. Yes - I'm that classy! For example:

Belgium: Waffles - just as they are with nothing on them from a vendor at the Gare Centrale. Or frites with cocktail sauce from Fritland by the Bourse. Or Chokotoffs.

Sweden: Straight to the Pressbyrå for an ice cream sandwich or an 88 - or maybe some Marabou chocolate if it's cold...

Netherlands: A broodje kaas and a Chocomel.

Germany: A piece of Streuselkuchen or a 'Teilchen' from the baker's with a Milchkaffee, or if I'm feeling more savoury, a Bockwurst with mustard from a railway station vendor, or Reibekuchen with Apfelmus.

Ah yes - it's the simple things of life which make all the difference.

Is it just me, or does anyone else do similar?

Posted by Eurodan at 10:08 AM | Comments (6)

July 5, 2003

Wow! That was exciting!

Earlier today I had my audition as part of BBC Talent for the weather presenter job - and I made it to the call-back stage! Out of about 100 or so people who turned up in the first part of the day, I was one of the twelve or so people they picked to go forward to the second round, which also took place today.

Now I have to wait and see whether I'm picked for the final in London later on in the summer. Whatever happens, it was great fun - a real adrenaline rush, and my training as an interpreter was perfect, as it happens.

I really feel I did the best I could, so I'm happy whatever the result. Watch this space!

Posted by Eurodan at 4:56 PM | Comments (1)

July 3, 2003

+++Results just in+++

I got a distinction! Flippin 'eck!

Posted by Eurodan at 6:22 PM | Comments (5)

July 2, 2003

Yes! It's here! The hottest invitation of the year.

You've guessed it - I've been invited to Brussels for the 'Insertion Test' on 15 July. Wish me luck!

In case you're wondering what an 'insertion' test involves, it's marginally less painful than it sounds. You have to do the linguistic equivalent of eating three cream crackers while balancing a glass of water on your head - i.e. interpret consecutively and then simultaneously from your acquired languages into your mother tongue under exam conditions.

Excruciatingly nerve-wracking, especially since it will feel like the last round of some game-show, where I'm playing for the star prize behind the gold lamé curtain - not an Austin Rover Mini Maestro, but a place on the much-coveted European Commission Work/Training Scheme for young interpreters (the so-called 'Insertion Scheme'.)

I've never been as apprehensive of any test before in my life, because to say that the competition is tough would be an understatement. Judging by the numbers of people applying for places, my chances of making it are slim, based on numbers alone.

What's more they tell you on the same day if you've been successful or not - so watch this space! (And keep your fingers crossed - you never know!).

Posted by Eurodan at 11:55 AM | Comments (2)

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