What happens when an Italian lands in the land of waffles? Join me on a journey of discovery and cultural adaptation as I navigate the Belgian workplace and immerse myself in a new language and culture at Untranslate.
As an Italian student in Belgium, I never imagined how much my life would change in just a few short months. From adapting to new languages and a new culture, my experience as a student in Belgium has been truly enriching.
First and foremost, the food in Belgium is incredible. As an Italian, I’m used to pasta and pizza, but in Belgium, I discovered a whole new world of culinary delights. From crispy waffles to hearty Flemish stews, I quickly learned that Belgian cuisine is not to be missed.
But the real adventure began in the classroom of the Vrije Universiteit in Brussels. As a language student in Belgium, I had the opportunity to study under some of the best professors in Languages and Translation field and in – the most multicultural setting- Brussels.
I was challenged to think critically, collaborate with my peers, and push myself outside of my comfort zone. It was precisely in the classrooms of the VUB where I met Nathalie De Sutter, lecturer in Technologies for Translators and managing partner of Untranslate.
When the opportunity to intern in the field of languages and multicultural communication presented itself, I was determined to make the most of it. Untranslate seemed the perfect place to learn and master the latest language technologies and more. Of course, there were challenges along the way, such as the language barrier and the unfamiliar culture, as I don’t speak Flemish (yet).
As I stepped into the Belgian workplace, a sense of order and productivity washed over me like a cool breeze. There was an undeniable level of efficiency and structure that was absent in my previous Italian work experiences.
Like a well-seasoned dish, every task and project had its own unique recipe and preparation time. The team functioned as a seamless unit, with each member contributing their unique strengths, just like in a kitchen where each ingredient has its own role in creating the perfect dish.
What made this teamwork even more impressive was the emphasis on clear and direct communication. Colleagues weren’t afraid to speak their minds or ask questions, ensuring that everyone was on the same page. This open dialogue and transparency differ from my previous work experiences in Italy, where communication often had a more indirect and nuanced tone, leading sometimes to misunderstandings. In Belgium, in contrast, the workplace is a harmonious blend of structure and communication, where teamwork and individual effort are equally valued. It was a refreshing change, and I felt inspired to adopt these values in my future endeavours.
But now let’s dive into the work itself. What does it mean to work in a translation agency? One word: creativity. And diversity, of course. I have the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects that present unique challenges and are helping me to grow in many ways. And it isn’t just about translation. I have the chance of collaborating with professionals from diverse backgrounds, including project management, copywriting, and technology – a field that the agency heavily relies on. Untranslate is committed to staying up to date with the latest advancements in the communication field, and I had the opportunity to learn how to use various software programs and online tools that made the translation process more efficient and accurate. The attention to detail and care in every aspect of the work is truly inspiring, and I feel that my capacity for organization and planning has been greatly enhanced.
Although I had to swap out my beloved spaghetti and warm Mediterranean sun for the occasional sandwich with ham (and some cabbage salad, which I have come to appreciate), the personal enrichment gained from my experience here in Belgium is truly priceless. Immersed in a new culture, surrounded by fresh ways of thinking and planning, and guided by the dynamic and skilled team at Untranslate, my hunger for knowledge and self-improvement was more than satisfied.
So, to anyone considering taking the leap of faith into a foreign work experience, I say: don’t hesitate. You never know where it might take you, and the rewards are immeasurable.