Faces of Gengo: Carola

A multilingual originally from Germany, Carola is a digital nomad who’s grateful for having a steady and flexible job that has allowed her to travel around Europe for the past two years. Find out what she loves about being a translator in this interview.

Nationality: German
Location: Currently traveling around Europe
Occupation: Blogging traveler
Gengo translator since: April 2015
Language pairs: English to German, German to English

What languages do you speak?

German, English, French, Italian, Spanish, plus a tiny bit of Russian and Japanese.

If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be and why?

Arabic. It is a language completely different from any of the others I know, and from what I’ve read, it is a very poetic language where subtle changes in words can reveal a whole new world of emotions.

“After climbing to find a view of the Treasury Tomb in Petra, Jordan, at sunrise on Christmas Day.”

Do you have experience living in other countries? If so, where?

Right after finishing high school in Germany, I lived outside Washington, D.C. for a year as an au pair. Then, I was based in London for a few months when I worked with an NGO. From 2011 to 2012, I also traveled around Africa (20+ countries) for ten months. For the past two years or so, I have been a nomad, traveling extensively in France and Italy.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you enjoy being a translator and why?

9. I love being challenged with completely different topics – from jewelry to sex toys to news articles. At the same time, I am a passionate writer so I find fulfillment even in the smallest jobs, whether the task is to translate marketing copy or a 140-character tweet. I deducted 1 point from the perfect 10 because translating can be a tad boring occasionally when the same phrases keep coming up over and over.

How has translating for Gengo impacted your life?

It has allowed me to live a digital nomad lifestyle. All I need is an Internet connection and I can make enough money to pay for a modest life while traveling the world.

“My workspace in a lovely little guesthouse with a garden in Bangkok, Thailand.”

When you were growing up, what did you aspire to become?

A writer.

What quote do you live by?

“Nothing is either good or bad. Just thinking makes it so.” by William Shakespeare from the Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2.

Name three of your favorite translation / language learning tools.

Duolingo is my favorite language learning tool, and I use Dict and Google when working on translations.

Recommend three of your favorite language-related books/films.

The films, Babel from 2006 and Timbuktu from 2014 and the book, The Yes Man by Danny Wallace.

“Beautiful sunset over my home town, Berlin.”

What advice would you give to new or aspiring translators?

First, read, read, read, and write. The better you know your target language, the better your translations will be. Read anything you can get your hands on, and take a stab at writing both fiction and non-fiction. You don’t have to be the best with the source language, but when you’re unsure or unfamiliar with something, you should look it up so you can learn more. Lastly, take on smaller jobs to gain experience.

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

Smile. Breathe. It’ll be fine.

Want to become a Gengo translator?


Jenie Gabriel

The author

Jenie Gabriel

Jenie creates and coordinates content for Gengo's marketing team. Originally from the Philippines, she was an advertising creative in Singapore before moving to Tokyo. In her spare time, you’ll find her wandering around the city or planning her next escapade.

  • Sam Baaijens

    There’s so much work in EN-DE/DE-EN that one can make a living from it?

    • John Anderson

      I was wondering the same thing. Gengo is pocket money for me, if I depended on it I would be in trouble!
      If there’s so much work in EN-DE/DE-EN, how come the tests for it are closed?

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