1. some quick information: age, place of birth, course of study, when did you graduate?
My name is Nanine Gross, I was born in Cologne and after various relocations all around Germany, I ended up in Magdeburg. Here, I studied International technical communication and specialised in technology and IT in Spanish and English at the University of Magdeburg-Stendal. I completed my studies at the end of September 2008. One month later, I started work with Wohanka, Obermaier & Kollegen as a translator, interpreter and proofreader. After just two months in the job, I got the opportunity to move to France (Mulhouse), where I spent a year. When the company opened a new branch in Scotland (Edinburgh), I decided to transfer there.
2. How were you able to lay the foundations for this job during your studies, i.e. for a job with the company, a job abroad? (Here you could mention various things: courses, internships, contacts through lecturers, assistant jobs etc.)
At any rate, my studies provided me with the basics for my current job, such as languages, translation techniques and basic technical know-how. Translating under time pressure was also an important part of my studies. But I basically think that as a translator, you only learn through real experience. A university course is limited on themes because of the limited time, and if you then specialise in one field, you shrink your own prospects even further. As a translator, you come into contact with topics and texts from all areas every day, and you need as much technical knowledge as possible. During studies it would never be possible to attain all this knowledge, so we were at least shown how to familiarise ourselves as quickly as possible with new subject areas, which is a great help in day-to-day work.
3. How did you arrive in your current job?
In March 2008, I went to Chile to do an internship with a translation agency, whilst at the same time writing my dissertation. I was amongst the first of those who wrote their dissertations in Spanish. I actually wanted to stay in Chile, but could not find a job. Since I knew that I would arrive in Germany just a few days before my final presentation, and wanted to find a job as quickly as possible, I began in Chile to look on the internet for a job in Germany. There, I came across an advert from Wohanka, Obermaier & Kollegen, who at that point were looking for several new translators. I had my first telephone conversation with Frau Wohanka from Chile, and just a few days after my presentation I was offered an interview in the Leipzig branch. One month later, I started work in the headquarters in Geisenhausen. Now, I have been with the company for more than two years, and I work in the third branch. I was lucky to have joined a company which was growing and which is still expanding. It is a great help after university to work in a team with so many translators, since you cannot put a price on support from experienced translators.
4. What is your everyday working life like?
My day mostly consists of translating and proofreading texts in English, Spanish and German. Even though I had specialised in technology during my studies, I now have comprehensive experience in all subject areas, and translate texts from almost all fields. Through the internal proofreading centre in Leipzig, where the majority of translations are proof-read a second time, new translators have the opportunity to work in new fields in the knowledge that any mistakes will not be passed on to the customers. You can therefore sail into uncharted waters without a second thought.
I have also assumed some administrative responsibilities in our branch, and take care of the IT as well as direct organisation in the office. This doesn’t just break up my working day, but also gives me an insight into other work areas.
5. Have you decided to work abroad or in Scotland? Why? What appeals to you?
My original plan was actually to remain in Chile, but that did not work out. I would have liked to stay longer in Magdeburg, but the job market for translators there is somewhat limited. Since I had spent a year in Australia when I was 20, Germany no longer really felt like my home, and I noticed that I expected much more from the world. After Chile and France, Scotland was a rather more incidental step of my journey, which presented itself through my job. I had not planned it, but then again Australia, Chile and France were not really planned either, but they worked out regardless.
6. Before your move to Scotland, you worked in France for a year - how difficult is it to frequently switch place, even country (from a professional and a personal perspective?)
When, in your life, you are constantly changing where you live and even the country in which you live, you get used to starting over again. I don’t think that there is a great difference between starting a new in a different town or a different country. Lastly, you are always on your own, so have to build a new social circle and find your own way. A foreign language only makes things harder. Certainly it is not simple, and the first few weeks are always spent with your heart pounding. But I think that it’s easier for me to change my place of residence, rather than to stay in the one place for a long time!
7. Do you want to move back to Germany at some point?
Never say never, right? Recently I have been imagining moving back to Germany, but I have found my feet in Edinburgh and am not yet ready to leave. It is the first city to really touch my heart. But, if life should bring me back, I won’t fight it. I have learned to love Germany from a distance, and at the moment don’t see myself as part of it.
8. How do you manage as a German person in Scotland? How are you accepted? In your experience, how does their mentality differ from ours?
Every new beginning is a throw of the dice. You have to put a lot of effort in appearing interesting to others, and in the end it depends on the people you meet on your way. I was unbelievably lucky here and found people who immediately accepted me and made me a part of their lives. Of course I have to let the odd joke slide now and again, but I take them in good humour. And the Scot with his very sarcastic and almost black humour is usually a ray of sunshine to cheer you up...