Nürnberger Stammtisch Restart: Networking in Nuremberg

Hi to all my blog readers. I’m back in Prague after a wonderful weekend in the lovely city of Nuremberg.

I was honoured to be invited to a translators’ event there as an Ehren-Nürnberger (honorary Nuremberger). After a long break due to the pandemic, the Stammtisch, or informal meeting for translators in Franconia, was back on the itinerary. Those of us travelling from further afield were affected by various delays, be it bus, train or plane, but we all managed to get there in the end.

One of the organizers, Rob, promptly rearranged the restaurant booking so most of us could still make it to dinner on Friday evening. We ate well at Five Diner near the main square and then went on for drinks at the Taproom just up the hill. Since it was still very warm even late in the evening, I opted for a Sommerbier, which proved to be a wise choice.

On Saturday morning, there was a much-needed downpour after the heatwave so I decided to stay in my hotel a bit longer until it stopped and take advantage of the fitness centre there. I was happy with the service, price and overall quality of the Best Western, conveniently situated just behind the train station.

In the early afternoon, I met my friend and colleague Pavel at the Biomarkt where we listened to some great live music by a duo called 2 im Sinn (see the video below). We were also joined by Liz, another Ehren-Nürnberger based in Prague. In-between doing a bit of shopping, we went for Kaffee und Kuchen with our other friends (also visiting translators) Klaus and Lisa at a nice little Italian place called Café Franco.

It was soon time to meet for pre-dinner drinks at Café Wanderer & Bieramt. I was interested in trying the Thirsty Ale and asked if it was like a Sommerbier. The bartender replied that it was summer so it could be a summer ale and that, in any case, it tasted great. I tried it and I agreed.

After this pit stop, we had a nice wander along the river to the venue for the main event: the Stammtisch at Restauration Kopernikus. We had a big table in the beer garden, already almost full when we arrived at the time of our reservation. This is a sign of a popular venue and I couldn’t fault anything: fabulous food (I had Russian-style pierogi), good beer (Spalter) and excellent service.

Stammtisch selfie by Rob Prior

Here we met up with some more of the local translators and were also joined by Herbert, a colleague from Bamberg. Whilst enjoying good food and drink, we discussed topics ranging from tips for freelance translators just starting out, academic editing, use of T/V pronouns in various languages, and official interest rates to charge late payers. I love how everyone helps each other out and points people in the right direction at these informal translators’ events. And it was great to hang out with old friends and meet new ones.

After the Stammtisch, a few of us went for a nightcap at a superb pub called Bierwerk on Unschlittplatz. The bartender freed up a big table by the window for us. I thought we were getting VIP treatment because the organizers knew him but it was just great service. This time I went for a light beer called Blondi: highly recommended.

All in all, it was a fabulous trip. A big thank you to Sabine Lodge and Rob Prior for organizing a wonderful weekend. Many thanks to my friends and colleagues, old and new, for the great company. For those of you who missed it, I hope to see you there next time.

I really enjoyed both the networking and walking around this beautiful city. And even though my standards are very high given that I live in Prague, the beer in Nuremberg did not disappoint. My journey back was extremely smooth with no delays so I made it home in time to go to a great gig in Prague on Sunday night, Lady and the Devil feat. Carlo Rodriguez at A Maze in Tchaiovna, to round off the weekend perfectly.

 

Blog post edited by Robin Finesilver.

Reunited at the IPW 2022

Hello from Prague to all my blog readers. After teaching my course on The Rise of Populism remotely in November 2020 and online in Nordhausen in July 2021 (see my previous blog post), it was amazing to finally be able to meet students and colleagues in person for the International Project Week (IPW) at Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences in Thuringia in May 2022. Although participation was considerably lower than before the start of the pandemic, there were still approximately 250 students, and we had 30 guest lecturers in attendance or online from 15 countries, mainly in Europe, with a total of 23 projects.

Six of those were online or hybrid, with a few of the remote lecturers Zoomed in for the closing ceremony on Friday morning, including Nagwa from Egypt. As Michal and Jarmila (my colleagues from Olomouc) were busy with other work, I was the only representative of the Czech Republic this year. As a newly naturalized Czech citizen, I was delighted to be able to take part in the International Project Week as a member of the EU once more.

Photo by Gonçalo Bandeira

Along with my colleague from Portugal, Gonçalo Bandeira, I was working with a small group of university students on the subject of The Rise of Populism. Besides discussing infamous populists such as Trump, Bolsonaro and Le Pen, we also looked at the enigma of Zelensky, a populist of a different ilk. For their final poster presentation, our students opted for an interactive quiz where they cited well-known populists and then students from other groups had to guess whose photo was behind the quote. They also presented Miloš Zeman, the populist president of the Czech Republic. The group did a great job and it was a pleasure to collaborate with them on this project.

As well as working hard all week, we also had the chance to participate in a wide range of social and cultural activities. This began with a Sunday excursion to the Alternative Bärenpark Worbis where the bears and other animals are able to enjoy life in a natural habitat, followed by the Grenzlandsmuseum Eichsfeld at the former border between East and West Germany.

Alternative Bärenpark Worbis

The schedule also included a Monday afternoon tour of the university campus after classes with a visit to the August-Kramer-Institut to observe them carry out their work on renewable energy systems and then on to the sensory lab to test some new liqueurs produced by the local distillery in Nordhausen. Other trips on the programme were to a nearby goat farm, Sophienhof, and to Mittelbau Dora concentration camp, an important part of Nordhausen’s history.

Grenzlandsmuseum Eichsfeld

Once more, I had a fabulous week of work and play in Nordhausen. It was wonderful to meet so many people in person again and also to have others join us online. It seems like hybrid events may be the way of the future. A big thank you to Jenny Ettrich, Thomas Hoffmann and Melissa Gürtler from the International Office at Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences, the President, Jörg Wagner, for the invitation, and, of course, to the brilliant IPW team for making all this possible and taking good care of us throughout the week.

 

Closing dinner at the Greek restaurant Zur Friedenseiche. Photo by Wojciech Gonet

Blog post edited by Robin Finesilver.

Editing for researchers in Germany and the Czech Republic

I was honoured to be invited to speak about my editing work at a recent SENSE UniSIG meeting. Here’s Joy Burrough-Boenisch’s blog post about the session:

unisig 18feb22

At the 18 February UniSIG meeting, SENSE member Linda Jayne Turner talked about her experience working for clients in academia in Germany and the Czech Republic. A teaching job at Charles University brought Linda to Prague in 2004, and while she has remained there, she also has many clients in Germany, where she lived previously. She mostly edits journal articles written by academics to be submitted to journals (mainly in the social sciences); she also edits colleagues’ English translations from German and Czech.

In her talk, Linda touched on some of the differences between working for clients in the two countries. In general, she thinks her Czech clients are more diffident about their prowess in English and more relaxed about deadlines. Her German academic clients pay higher rates and expect to be invoiced per hour’s work (that’s generally equivalent to editing about 1000 words), whereas in the Czech Republic she is expected to charge per page (assuming 1800 characters per page), but can also charge an hourly rate in some cases. Her German clients often have to request bids from three language professionals, but don’t always go for the cheapest, preferring instead to give the assignment to Linda, whose work they trust and appreciate. Invoices issued to German universities should ideally be paid into German banks to avoid additional paperwork, so Linda has kept her bank account in Germany.

It seems that the bugbear in both countries is Kafkaesque bureaucracy. Although Kafka’s depiction of the Czech establishment arises from his own experience of the system in Prague imposed in the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Linda thinks present-day German bureaucracy is even more convoluted.

Linda makes a point of visiting Germany several times a year, under normal circumstances, and when she does, she contacts her clients in advance to invite them to meet up with her. These informal meetings are usually at the end of the working day and take place in a café, restaurant or bar. Chatting over coffee, a meal or a drink is a good way to get to know more about clients and to get useful feedback from them. It also makes it easier to deal with any subsequent issues that might arise while working together.

At this lively UniSIG meeting there was plenty of input from the 24 attendees. It was pointed out that in Germany and the Netherlands, agencies corner editing and translation work through aggressive marketing, and the texts they supply to their university clients are sometimes in poor English. Linda’s mention of her arrangements for receiving payment from German clients sparked recommendations for companies to use for receiving payments from non-euro clients: PayPal, Wise (formerly TransferWise) and Stripe (cheaper than Paypal).

https://www.sense-online.nl/blog/1405-unisig-report-editing-for-researchers-in-germany-and-the-czech-republic

Testing the waters of digital nomadism

Inspired by Maaike Leenders’ talk on digital nomadism at SENSE’s recent Professional Development Days, I went to test the waters with a week’s stay in the lovely Croatian city of Split at the beginning of October. Since RegioJet’s direct train from Prague was no longer running, I booked plane tickets. Flying in Covid times was a bit more stressful than usual – not because of wearing a mask for the entire journey but because of the extra documents needed (such as my digital Covid pass and passenger locator form). It all went pretty smoothly in the end though, despite the airline changing my return flight just after I booked it, combining the Saturday and Sunday flights. Luckily, it was easy to change my accommodation booking and that gave me an extra day the second weekend so I’m not complaining.

A couple of years ago, I spent a week in Split with my friends and colleagues at a conference at the university there (METM19) and, earlier this year, I went back for a holiday with a friend and my sister – so I was familiar with the area. I rented an apartment with a good internet connection located close to Žnjan beach and Tommy’s supermarket. Some of my MET friends and colleagues know this area well, too. When Elizabeth Garrison mentioned she had spent five weeks working remotely in the very same building a few years ago, I knew I was in good company.

I checked the weather forecast in advance and planned to work more when it was raining and to hit the beach and sea when the sun came out. I ended up doing some admin on the very first day although it was a sunny Sunday but an invoice I wrote then was settled on Monday so that literally paid off. Plus, I still had plenty of beach time afterwards.

It took me a while to set up my office on the Monday. Since I like to make use of a second screen when I’m editing, I took along my tablet for this purpose. After trying out a couple of different apps, I got it up and running using SuperDisplay. The screen is smaller than my usual second monitor in my office in Prague so that took a bit of getting used to but it did the job. I also missed my ergonomic keyboard with QWERTY layout but my spare German keyboard is still easier to work with than my small laptop one.

I didn’t get as much work done during the week as I would have at home but the plan was to work part-time and enjoy my beautiful surroundings, too. As well as getting in an almost daily swim, I also made time for early evening coffee breaks by the sea. Maybe that’s a habit I could adopt at home in Prague. There may not be any sea nearby but I’m only ten minutes away from the pool at my local gym and there are plenty of nice cafés right on my doorstep.

Besides going out for coffee, it was great to have dinner during the week with my friend and colleague Domagoja who works at the university in Split. And since I was travelling alone, it was important for me to stay connected to friends and family while I was away. I had phone and video calls with a couple of good friends and with my brother as well as participating in two social events online – my friend Jamie Marshall’s fabulous Sunday night Facebook live gig and a chat with the lovely ladies in the Psychologies Subscribers’ Life Leap Club on Tuesday evening. I also attended a SENSE UniSIG Zoom presentation on the ethics of ‘proofreading’ student writing at UK universities by Nigel Harwood. This was thought provoking and worth dragging myself away from the beach for on Friday afternoon.

Throughout my stay, I kept my sister and my friend I went to Split with earlier in the year posted about my whereabouts – and my Facebook friends! I felt very safe walking around in Split even at night but it’s best to be vigilant. And I joined a local Facebook group just in case I needed any assistance or information.

 

On the second weekend I went on a boat trip and even though the sea was a bit choppy and cold – no-one went swimming this time, not even me! – it was still a wonderful excursion and we got to enjoy this amazing sunset. This won’t be my last sunset in Split. I’ll be back. I’m already thinking about a longer stay next year and September/October is a good time of year to be there. It’s not too crowded but still generally good weather. If any of my MET or other friends or colleagues would like to join me, let me know. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing many of you at METM online tomorrow and Friday. We may not be in Split or sunny Spain this time but we can still learn a lot and enjoy online networking into the bargain.

 

CPD galore

We editors and translators have recently been spoilt for choice for continuing professional development opportunities, partly thanks to Zoom and Wonder. As a member of MET (Mediterranean Editors & Translators), SENSE (the Society of English-language professionals in the Netherlands) and NEaT (Nordic Editors and Translators), I’ve been able to join colleagues in Spain, the Netherlands and Finland, among other countries, this past week for online further training and networking – all without leaving my desk in Prague.

Susan Frekko’s online workshop on training researchers to write academic articles

Last Wednesday I participated in Susan Frekko’s excellent workshop on “Training researchers to write academic articles: another string to your bow”. In a highly interactive session, we discussed various questions such as what is research and analyzed the articles Susan had given us in advance – first in small groups in breakout rooms and then together in the full group.

We also worked individually on developing courses we could teach. This was an extremely useful exercise and by the end of the workshop, after also looking at Susan’s course proposals which she kindly shared with us, we’ve certainly got plenty of food for thought for our own courses now.

SENSE organized two Professional Development Days the last two Saturdays. I enjoyed listening to great sessions on subjects ranging from digital nomads by Maaike Leenders to  personal branding by Anne Oosthuizen on the first day and ergonomic workspaces by Jenny Zonneveld to positive strategies to combat imposter syndrome by a panel comprised of John Linnegar, Naomi Gilchrist and Betsy Hedberg on the second day.

One highlight of PDD 2021 was the editing slam by Daphne Visser-Lees and Curtis Barrett which gave us a fascinating insight into how different editors with different backgrounds work. There was also plenty of time for some fun networking (and virtual ‘borrel’) on Wonder.

As well as these two events, I also really liked NEaT’s excellent session on “Academic editors decide: whose style matters?” presented by Alice Lehtinen and Kate Sotejeff-Wilson reporting on the results of their survey on what types of changes editors make or don’t make to their authors’ texts. The results were sometimes split and a very interesting discussion ensued…

I won’t give too much away because this last session will be repeated at METM on 14–15 October, an event I am already looking forward to. I am also glad I booked early because this online conference is now sold out with a grand total of 250 participants registered (although there’s a waiting list if you missed out). Unfortunately, we’re not all going to be together in a sunny Mediterranean location this year but, thanks to all the extra hard work put in by the organizers to make it work online, it still promises to be a fabulous event.

And, in the meantime, inspired by Maaike’s presentation, I will take myself off to the coast (back to Split in Croatia, the venue of the last in-person METM in 2019) and test the waters of digital nomadism for a week…

Digitally united at the IPW 2021

The International Project Week (IPW) at Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences in Thuringia was a bit different this year as only four lecturers travelled there to participate on site (two of us from the Czech Republic, one from Poland and one from the US) while the rest taught online from their home countries. And along with goodies such as chocolates and a miniature sample from the local distillery, we also got some hand disinfectant gel, a week’s supply of FFP2 masks and a couple of Covid tests in our welcome bags, as well as a handy webcam cover for our computers since we were all still teaching digitally, albeit on campus.

It was somewhat strange to walk through the door – bearing a lovely welcome poster – into an empty classroom each morning, knowing I would see my students on screen instead of sitting there in person. After a few initial technical problems, the teaching went pretty smoothly and the week flew by as always. For my project entitled “The Rise of Populism” the students came up with impressive final presentations on the following subjects: a comparison of right-wing and left-wing populism in Germany; conspiracy theories and populism; the development of populism through different topics; and (the musicians among the group) populism and music. These students were a pleasure to work with, extremely patient with technical issues and actively participating throughout the week.

Although all the teaching was online, there was still a great real-life social and cultural programme for those of us who were there in person. The extra-curricular activities were mostly outdoors: trips to the Hohenrode park in Nordhausen, the rosarium in Sangerhausen, one of the largest rose collections in the world, and, at the weekend, the National Garden Festival (BUGA) in the picturesque town of Erfurt. We visited a peaceful monastery in nearby Walkenried during the week, stopping off on our way back to the station to watch the model railway with a small-scale steam train like the one that goes up to the Brocken on the famous Harz narrow gauge railway. And to relax after the last day’s work and students’ final presentations, we cooled off with a Friday afternoon swim in a local lake.

Video by Michal Menšík

We also listened to excellent talks on climate change by two university students at the Klimapavillon one evening and enjoyed a socially distanced version of the mid-week student party at the Karzer with a barbecue for a small group of lecturers and IPW team members in a secret garden beforehand. When one colleague left before the end of the party, we all comically waved goodbye in unison like at the end of a Zoom meeting. We weren’t allowed to go and dance inside the disco this year but we were happy to dance outside instead. And during the course of the week we still had dinner – and the odd beer, of course – at several beer gardens.

It wasn’t quite the same without meeting the students in person and they are generally tired of online classes after so many months – three semesters – and very keen to get back into the classroom. I also really missed my colleagues who were unable to travel to Nordhausen this year though it was lovely to see them online at least. I very much hope we will all be reunited in person next May, not only digitally. In any case, this year’s trip was a great experience all round – a big thank you to Patricia Kolbe, Thomas Hoffmann and all the IPW team for pulling it off under difficult circumstances!