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 analysed 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 organised 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 organisers 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!

Articles and reviews

A selection of my essays on the subject of professional translation:

Linda Jayne Turner, “Customer/Translator Relations – Working Effectively with Translators,” Zeszyty Naukowe Akademii Podlaskiej, no. 82 (2009), Seria: Administracja  Zarządzanie (9) 2009, 139–151.

Linda Jayne Turner, “A Network of Professionals: Good Ethical Practices in the Translation Industry.” In Corporate Social Responsibility and Ethical Aspects of Business, edited by Grażyna O’Sullivan, Janusz Toruński, and Henryk Wyrębek, 240–260. Warsaw: Emka Studio, 2010.

Linda Jayne Turner, “The Value Added to Modern Organisations by Professional Translators.” In Strategic Management and Knowledge Management. How to Use Intellectual Potential of Employees to Create an Open to Change Organization, edited by Grażyna O’Sullivan, Janusz Toruński, and Henryk Wyrębek, 201–218. Warsaw: Emka Studio, 2011.

Linda Jayne Turner, “Project Management in the Translation Industry.” In Efficiency in Business, edited by Jarosław Stanisław Kardas and Jolanta Brodowska-Szewczuk, 103–119. Siedlce: Siedlce University of Natural Sciences and Humanities, 2012.

Linda Jayne Turner, “Business Development Opportunities for Professional Translators.” In Business Development Opportunities, edited by Jarosław Stanisław Kardas and Jolanta Brodowska-Szewczuk, 73–82. Siedlce: Siedlce University of Natural Sciences and Humanities, 2013.

Reviews

Linda Jayne Turner, “Jenny Zonneveld: Preparing the winning quote – effective job estimates.” METM19 Chronicles. The Hive: The MET archive of tools and resources, 2019.