Off topic: Freelancing in a country whose language you do not speak yet
Thread poster: Marie Safarovic

Marie Safarovic
Russian Federation
Local time: 09:15
Russian to German
+ ...
Feb 27, 2010

Dear colleagues,

with only four months to go before the end of my course in Conference Interpreting, I am pondering about my first steps in this exciting profession.

I am very aware of the fact that my degree won't automatically get me a job and that I am facing a great challenge when trying to compete on the market.

Having said all that it might seem a little naive or adventurous to consider moving to a country whose language I do not speak yet, so I would like to think this through really well and hope to make an educated decision on the basis of the advice you provide.

Moving to Russia and studying the language has been on my mind for over a year now and I am prepared to make a great effort to get to grips with Russian and add it to my language profile in the future.
I am fascinated by Russia's language and culture so my wish to study Russian does not only derive from a professional background but also from a deep personal interest.

My main concern at the moment is neither the challange of adopting to a country that is rather different to all the countries I have resided in before, nor the difficulty of the language itself but rather the danger of losing my freshly gained interpreting skills if I don't keep at it.

I imagine that freelancing oportunities in Russia won't arise for language profiles that don't involve Russian, or am I mistaken?

Has anybody ever been in a similar situation? It doesn't have to be Russia itself as any advice on the general idea of living in country A if you only speak language B,C and D would be really appreciated.

I would consider finding employment in another sector whilst studying hard to get to a sufficiently high level of the language but I am worried that not taking on any interpreting work for, say, one year, might affect my ability to interpret; "use it or lose it"

Just to make matters a little bit more complicated I am also thinking about adding Swedisch to my profile, so I might have the option to work for the European Institutions in the future if I pass their exams, etc. (three official Europan C languages are required and I have only one C language and one B at the moment)
I imagine that learning Swedish won't be a big deal for me as I have knowledge of Norwegian but nevertheless I am aware that one must cultivate ones' languages, sit additional exams to get them certified etc...

to cut a long story short, would you say that I am better off focussing on one of those languages (and, in your oppinion would it be the one that's easiear to learn or the one you are more interested in?) or is it realistic that I opt for a fast track Swedish course, sit my additional exam in Swedish and then move to Russia?

Don't get me wrong, I know that all these are personal decisions and in the end it is me who has to make up her mind.
I also know that I should probably worry about other things, yet this is very present on my mind on a daily basis so I would really like to hear your oppinions.

Thank you very much for taking your time to read this long post and I am looking forward to reading your responses.

Buenas noches



Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:15
Flemish to English
+ ...
Kaliningrad Feb 27, 2010

is Russia too and would in your case be the best of both worlds. How far is Sweden from Köningsstadt?


Nikita Kobrin  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:15
English to Russian
+ ...
My situatian is somewhat similar to yours Feb 27, 2010

Marie Safarovic wrote:

Has anybody ever been in a similar situation? It doesn't have to be Russia itself as any advice on the general idea of living in country A if you only speak language B,C and D would be really appreciated.

Hi Marie,

My situatian is somewhat similar to yours: my working languages are English and Russian and I live in a country of a third language: Lithuanian. Though the situation looks to be similar it's quite different as historically it happened so that 80% of the local population can speak and understand Russian.

Living in a country the official language of which you can't use professionally is one of my biggest problems: for me it would be much better to live where the overwhelming majority of people speak either English or Russian.

I see that your working languages are English and German. I'm afraid you won't be able to find any interpreting jobs for this language pair in Russia but you can translate from English into German being located in Russia (though it would be a bit more difficult to find jobs comparing with those located in German or English speaking countries).

In addition living in Russia is quite specific, not all westerners can easily accustom themselves to it...

[Edited at 2010-02-28 08:09 GMT]


jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:15
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
A translator can live anywhere Feb 28, 2010

but if you want to be an interpreter, it's only possible for you to get any job after you have become highly proficient in the Russian language. My common sense tells me that any interpreting opportunity would involve Russian in there.

[Edited at 2010-02-28 05:24 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-02-28 05:25 GMT]


Evgeny Sinelschikov  Identity Verified
United Arab Emirates
Local time: 10:15
Member (2010)
English to Russian
+ ...
BE a bit more realistic Feb 28, 2010

Dear Marie,

i agree with the others that you will have plenty of opportunities to translate between any language pairs in Russia, this is what is all about after all. But please do not fool yourself - there is no way you will be able to reach interpretation-grade proficiency in Russian in 1-3 years. There will always be hundreds of people around you that are way better than you are, and you will find yourself frustrated over having lost so much precious time doing something silly.
Russia is a great market for translation and interpretation, but believe me, this is a far more long-term investment which will definitely pay off if you work hard enough. But nowhere in the vicinity of 1-3 years, believe me. I was educated in Russia and lived there for 8 years, so i know what i am talking about.
Of course it depends on who you want to be working with. If you are happy with interpreting for tourists the same things you hear over and over again then it is possible. But if you want to rise above this rather unchallenging and elementary stuff, think years.
Hope this helps.
Kind regards,


Marie Safarovic
Russian Federation
Local time: 09:15
Russian to German
+ ...
being realistic Feb 28, 2010

Dear everyone,

thank you very much for your advice- I am taking it on board. I really appreciate what you are saying, Evgeney, as you seem to know what you are talking about.

of course I am aware that Russian is not an easy language to learn but then I am convinced that one can learn any language with a lot of study and by living in the respective country for a while.

I did think that it was little realistic to find work as interpreter there and I prefer that you are telling me the way things are.

maybe my best bet would indeed be to go to Sweden, invest in my Swedish and try to get into the sector there- I already have a foundation in Norwegian so the move should not be too hard.

I could keep taking Russian lessons and think about moving to Russia in a few years' time again, once I know a bit better how the market works and how to get jobs in general.

This seems more realistic and sensible.

But then- do we always have to be realistic? I will definitely keep thinking about the issue and if anyone else feels like they have some thought on the matter then I would still like to hear about it.

Thank you


Maybe it is really better to get started with the profession first


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