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Hello everybody:

I successfully passed the EU accreditation test some days ago (DE and EN into ES, IT failed, I was exhausted by then, unluckily). I couldn't be happier about it, so now I'd like to take the right steps and do a good job.

I believe I should move to Brussels in order to get more work; nevertheless, I 'd also like to learn Portuguese first: would it make sense to spend some time im Portugal now and move to Brussels once I've reached the proficiency to add it as C language? I'm more or less young now (29) and I fear that I won't have the chance to live in Portugal later on unless I do it now.

In addition, the University of Porto offers a master degree ( which I might do to make sure I keep practicing during that time.

Also, if anyone here as any advice to give to newcomers like me, it would be very much appreciated. Right now I could use everything anyone tells me, as you can imagine. Whatever you would have liked to know when you first started but no one told you.

Thank you all in advance.


asked 28 Apr '19, 06:36

Jose_ES's gravatar image


Hi again,

As I said in my answer to your other question, I'm in the English booth, so please take what I'm saying with a pinch of salt. What applies to my booth doesn't necessarily apply 100% to yours.

You say that you believe you should move to Brussels. Probably! But the very least you need to do is set your domicile in Brussels. If you set your domicile in Madrid and you only have two (or even three) C languages there is little or no chance of you being hired by the institutions for work in Brussels. Moving to Brussels might depend on whether there is a newcomers scheme for your booth and your being selected for it. Remember that if you live in Brussels you might get the occasional short-term contract, which you wouldn't be able to accept if you live elsewhere.

I suppose you are intending to re-sit your Italian test. Make sure you're ready for that before you start working on anything else. You say you want to learn Portuguese. It's up to you, but is doing another Master's degree really the best approach, especially as the fees are 4,500 euro? You might be able to find a cheaper way to learn the language. I notice you don't have French - you should check whether that is an issue when you speak to your head of unit at SCIC and the EP.

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answered 30 Apr '19, 12:00

Sam's gravatar image


Dear Gaspar,

Thanks for your thorough answer and for the sound reasoning. As in other occasions, I appreciate it very much.

As you pointed out yourself, booking a flight with just some days, or even hours of anticipation, is no inexpensive bargain. Portugal is a good example.

Now, coming back to the main questions:

First: although there is always room for improvement, I believe that the main reason why I did not pass the IT test was tiredness (although that's only my opinion). Thus, consolidation of IT is not an issue that worries me.

Is it necessary to live full time in PT to learn PT? Probably not. However, it would be nice, and later on I might just not want/be able to do it anymore, and that for several different reasons.

Third: Agree. But then again, in some years I might just not feel like learning this language any longer.

When it comes to the German presidency: I'd expect to be in Brussels by that time, sure.

Also, the fact that a), you need to wait for at least six months before taking a failed test again, and b), the recent EU elections will (presumably) make interpreting services' demand even lower until the beginning of 2020, would make moving to Brussels pretty much pointless at this moment with only DE and EN.

I also consider that becoming familiar with the work to be delivered is the most important issue before starting to work for the institutions, as you said. Right now I'm reading the thesis "Be(com)ing a Conference Interpreter: At ethnography of EU interpreters as a professional community", by Veerle Duflou, which gives a very interesting insight on this matter, and which I highly recommend.

I regret that it all seems to be so focused on my personal case, I must say; I hope it can at least be an example for new members who have the same doubts in the future. As a summary, I would like to add that, a few months after the test, I find it very important to make decisions based on good information and sound advice. Taking (some) time to think things over is always a good idea.



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answered 02 Jul '19, 14:00

Jose_ES's gravatar image


Hi Jose,

it sounds a lot like you want to live in Portugal as much as to learn the language. In that case, it's a no brainer: go for it!

The next strategic question will be when to get to Brussels. With the German presidency coming in as of July (which is about when the summer break starts), you might as well expect not to start work for good before September. This being said, it would be worth before that to sit in on meetings, just to do some dummy booth and see how things work. Also, September is crazy in Brussels when it comes to finding a place to live. Throw in the bit of paperwork that needs to get doing, and you might want to be in town in July just to get all those three things done, before unwinding in August.

Whichever you decide, make sure to shout out to Carlos H. about your plans a few weeks in advance, so SCIC knows/remembers about your existence and gets a chance to offer you contracts in advance.

I regret that it all seems to be so focused on my personal case

Don't worry about that - devil is very much in the detail and no two buddying interpreters have the same profiles, aspirations, opportunities.

(10 Jul '19, 02:27) Gaspar ♦♦


I strongly suggest you settle in Portugal and travel from there to Brussels whenever you get work.

As a beginner, realisticly speaking you are not likely to get a large number of contracts the first year after your test. So instead of waiting idly in Brussels for work to come your way, you might as well use the free time you currently have (which you will no longer have once work starts picking up) to learn Portuguese in Portugal.

Many colleagues have done this at the start of their careers, setting their professional domicile in a given city while actually living in a different country. With Easyjet, AirBnB and what not, there are many options to commute internationally in a reasonably cheap way, not to mention the fact that your travel expenses will be set off by the lower cost of living in Portugal compared to Brussels. As you wrote it yourself, now may be your last chance. EDIT: Assuming of course that you don't get 100 days of work the very first year, because that would leave you very little time to really spend in Portugal (I just saw the other thread).

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answered 02 Jul '19, 06:10

Richter's gravatar image


edited 02 Jul '19, 06:25

Hello Richter,

Thanks a lot for your answer. I'm actually already in the process of moving to Portugal, which I've found to be a great place.

The beginner's scheme is not available for the Spanish booth, I've learned so far, so I don't need to "trouble" myself with that option.

The only thing that worries me still is that, apparently, beginners often receive VST contracts (many times for the next day, for actually), so it might not always be possible to travel in a few hours and be there in time, not to mention that, if I miss a flight or it get's cancelled, I may get some trouble.

But I'll absolutely add Portuguese before taking any further steps.

Thanks again, any advice is always very welcome.


(02 Jul '19, 07:12) Jose_ES

As a beginner, realistically speaking you are not likely to get a large number of contracts the first year after your test.

If this were to be true, being on the bottom of the list and being recruited last minute only during peak season would then equal in expensive flights and accommodation.

LIS-BRU return flights booked the same week put you out by 300€, which is the net earning for a beginner.

For this to be financially sound when living that far from Brussels, one would need several days of consecutive contracts confirmed ahead of time, which beginners won't have.

But coming back to the initial question(s), I think there are different aspects that need to be answered separately.

First, is it necessary to add PT before working and living in Brussels? No, I'd focus on IT first.

Second, is it necessary to live full time in PT to learn PT? I wouldn't think so, and if at all, not at the first stages but only at the final stages of learning.

Third, can one live in PT at a later stage of their career? I'd say it's easier to reside away from Brussels once one has four C languages, a few years under their belt, and hence, enough long term contracts to be able to organize accordingly. - As opposed to last minute, one-off, contracts.

Last but not least, the German council presidency coming up in Q4 2020 is likely to provide some amount of work, which brings the question whether moving to PT for just one year until then is advisable, or whether that project should be delayed to the beginning of January 2021.

I'd think consolidating technique and validation of the 3rd C language, knowledge of the institutions and of the work to be performed could be a sound priority, before thinking of adding a 4th C language.

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answered 02 Jul '19, 07:26

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

I did not know that it was so rare for beginners to get 2-day contracts in Brussels. Everything I wrote was based on the assumption that Jose could get a few 2-day or 3-day contracts from time to time, which would be enough to make each trip profitable, and accept the occasional 1-day contract provided it at least covers travel expenses. But if all he can hope for are 1-day contracts then yes another source of income might be needed if he decides to live in Portugal. The downside of living in Brussels just because you hope to get more work this way is that work still won't be guaranteed, and living in a city you don't especially like while you know you could be somewhere nicer, and being stuck there with little to no work to keep you busy, can be quite depressing.

(02 Jul '19, 08:55) Richter

When I left Brussels, you could get 3-4 days a given week in peak season, but you'd be hired 3 weeks in advance for Tuesday, say the week before for Wednesday, and only on Wednesday for Thursday. That's for the Brussels domiciles, as, since you're expected to live there, medium to very short term planning shouldn't be an issue.

To get blocks of several days weeks in advance, you'd either need to have the seniority (i.e. a Brussels domicile, enough C languages and a good enough quality rating to have access to the 'long-term exercise') or a distant domicile (in which case recruitment will try to push travel costs down by giving several days in a row, but which implies fewer overall offers during the year, as one costs more than the local colleagues).

What further decreases the chances of getting many days in advance in Brussels is that the Spanish booth has a young local population with 4-5 C languages (and who'll be hired first), meaning work is more thinly spread out than in booths that are being hit full blown by the demographic challenge as we speak.

(10 Jul '19, 02:15) Gaspar ♦♦
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question asked: 28 Apr '19, 06:36

question was seen: 1,811 times

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