Visit to the European Commission in Brussels

During our bachelor, we have many opportunities to attend extra lectures, workshops and events. These are often hosted by very interesting people with connections to either Brazil specifically or at least some part of the Portuguese diaspora. This spring we had a lecture by Bo Skovsboell, who works for the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium. One of Brazilian Studies’ 3rd semester students, our very own Juul Van de Voort, contacted him to arrange an excursion to visit him at the Danish Translation Service in Brussels. In the end, a one-day internship at the European Commission was set up. This trip took place late November, and was attended by Juul, Tanja and yours truly.   
Our trip began early Monday morning, which allowed us to spend the entire afternoon as tourists in the most politically important city in Europe. We stayed at an apartment rented through Airbnb, which was conveniently close to the European Parliament. Unfortunately, there was some miscommunication with our Airbnb host about which location we should go to, so we ended up arriving at the Parliament half an hour too late! Awkward!

When we finally arrived, we had to sign in and show ID to gain access to the upper floors. We were greeted by Bo, who kindly forgave us for being late and promptly took us to his office to introduce us to his colleagues. We were then invited to talk to the man in charge of all Danish Translation related to EU matters, Derrick Kinch Olesen, who gave us a detailed lesson on the history of the service and what they do in Brussels. We were then each assigned a professional translator, whom we were allowed to “shadow” for the day. They told us about the different type of work that they each do, and how they got into the field. We were shown some of the electronic tools that they have in order to efficiently translate as much material as possible in dozens of different areas, as well as have they utilize their language skills to interact with translators from other countries.

The man whom I shadowed spoke several languages and was prone to look up an assignment in the system (it is protocol to translate certain press-releases or documents into all EU languages), where he could see the progress of the assignment by the other countries. This way he could look at the German or French for example, and compare certain choices of words or sentence structure, in order to make everything more coherent.                     

 All in all it was a very informative and educational experience, and I highly recommend that other students from an Area Study consider making such an arrangement with the Translation Service, or with another institution within the EU. We were certainly very happy with the outcome of the trip, and encourage others to seek out these experiences that transcend the academic world: they are invaluable, and they are tons of fun!

Written by Isabella Vestergaard Guldager 


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