Eurodan in English

March 29, 2004

Far be it from me to jump on a bandwagon and show you something I found on the internet which you have probably already seen, but this is priceless.

Donald Rumsfeld hoist by his own petard. Sometimes there is justice, it seems...

Posted by Eurodan at 8:05 PM | Comments (3)

March 28, 2004

I just learnt the cutest French expression, which roughly translates as "there was an awkward pause in the conversation."

It's "un ange passa" - literally "an angel passed by".

Sometimes other languages have the loveliest way of expressing something..

Posted by Eurodan at 10:49 PM | Comments (1)

March 26, 2004

Well, I'm back.

Thanks very much for all the congratulations - it's lovely to know that so many people were rooting for me - I think it made a real difference.

Since the test day I went back to the UK for a few days, and then my Dad and one of my sisters came over to Brussels, and I've been playing host and having a bit of a holiday with them.

They're off back to the UK today - and so my post-test life is about to begin in earnest.

It's strange, you know. I've been working solidly for the last two years to get to exactly this point. But I didn't really think about what would happen once I got here - not for a moment. It all feels a bit like having lost the script; having to make it up as I go along.

The main uncertainty is work. I was lucky enough to pass my test with three languages, so I'm on the standard freelance recruitment list, but working conditions are changing fast in the European institutions at the moment. With ten new countries joining in a month's time, the linguistic balance of power is tipping very heavily in favour of English and to a lesser extent the other 'big' languages, possibly meaning more meetings being held in English only.

Nobody really knows how things are going to pan out over the coming couple of years - or indeed if there'll be much of a market for freelancers like me in the long run.

With that in mind, I'm dusting off my Polish and going for that as the next one to add to my working languages - hopefully by 2006. That way I can hopefully still keep myself useful - and in work!

Posted by Eurodan at 11:16 AM | Comments (1)

March 16, 2004


Just a quick note to say that...

I PASSED!!!!!!!

In German, French and Dutch! :-)

(sorry about the exclamation marks but under the circumstances ;-)

Time to celebrate I think. Thanks for all the good wishes and support which has come my way.

I think I may upgrade my Eurostar ticket tomorrow to first class - after all, a 'brief period of rejoicing' is allowed, I think...

Posted by Eurodan at 3:56 PM | Comments (14)

March 15, 2004


Well, the big day is (almost) here. And to celebrate, spring has arrived in Brussels, and I have my windows open as I write.

Tomorrow I have to take an indescribably nerve-wracking series of tests (i.e. interpreting live before a jury) to determine whether I gain full freelance accreditation to work as an interpreter for the European Commission.

I've been replaying the various scenarios over and over in my head for weeks, and so by now you might think I'd be beside myself with nerves.

But no. Despite the fact I've been obsessing about it for weeks and getting tenser and tenser, all is now suddenly and strangely calm - Leah said I sounded 'very zen' on the phone last night.

And I suppose it's true. After all - what more can I do now? What good will getting all worked up do? And if I fail, I can always try again - in about 6 months' time with any luck.

But please keep your fingers crossed that my sore throat (which suddenly arrived this morning) doesn't get any worse! Thanks.

Oh yes, and I'll post the result here - win, lose or draw.

Posted by Eurodan at 4:23 PM | Comments (3)

March 13, 2004

Calling all statisticians:

You're in a packed bar, full of couples. What's the chance, under normal circumstances, of finding a couple who are both born in the same month?

I reckon it's one in twelve, but am I right?

After all, there are 144 different combinations, 12 of which are matches (Jan-Jan, Feb-Feb and so on). All the other combinations are duplicated once, (ie Jan-Dec, Dec-Jan), but I don't think that matters.

But I think I may have got it wrong. So, dear readers... to the rescue!

Posted by Eurodan at 9:22 PM | Comments (11)

March 4, 2004

Yesterday my new specs arrived. I've gone from having Danish glasses to Swiss ones, but these were actually designed by a Welshman.

Unfortunately though the lenses are not quite strong enough, and that was the whole point of buying new glasses in the first place! Not quite sure how that happened - I think I must have tried too hard when I did the eye test - well, you know how I like to try and do well in tests!


Posted by Eurodan at 10:05 PM | Comments (1)

March 1, 2004

I'm really not sure how much sense you're going to get out of me over the course of the next two weeks. I've really begun to obsess about my test on 16 March.

In the Commission's rather quaint parlance it's known as the test de passage, which makes it sound a bit like a Bar mitzvah or some other coming-of-age ceremony, but the reality is rather more brutal.

You have a test, where you get to interpret four short speeches. If you fail to interpret them to a sufficiently high standard, you fail the test. If you fail the test, you lose the right to work for the Commission as a freelance interpreter. (Also rather quaintly referred to as a changement de statut).

You can try again, but you have to wait a while, normally at least six months.

So I think you can probably imagine that most people would have a fair amount of nervous energy coursing through their veins at a time like this. When faced with this sort of all-or-nothing challenge, there's the temptation to spend every waking moment working. That French news programme or Dutch newspaper might contain just the word which could otherwise trip you up - can you afford not to read it?

But clearly therein lies the road to madness. The right thing to do is to find a compromise between channelling your nervous energy into work on the one hand and keeping your mental health on the other.

Or at least, that's the theory. Anyway, I'd better go... Y'a que la vérité qui compte is just about to start on TF1, and it's very good for colloquial French expressions...

Posted by Eurodan at 9:41 PM | Comments (2)

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