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For ordinary tourists Belgium is a country famous for its Manneken Pis statue, Belgian wafers, chocolate and for its comics. However, Belgium means more to MA students of the Caspian Higher School of Interpreting and Translation. This is the place where many institutions of the European Union are located!
This year the study visit to the EU institutions was a bit different from others, because our Master Students went there not from Russia, but from Italy where they are studying within the framework of the Erasmus+ program and the exchange agreement between Astrakhan State University and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. Alina Budaeva and Ekaterina Natkhina joined the group of the Italian students from Forli translation and interpreting school of the University of Bologna to study the activities of the biggest interpreting services in the world.
The visit lasted for three days, but the schedule was extremely busy. On the first day, the students visited the European Commission Directorate General for Interpretation. There they listened to the presentations about various EU institutions and interpreters’ work at them. Then the students were offered an independent visit to the Parliamentarium, an interactive museum of the history of EU integration. Indeed, there is a lot of information inside the museum: photos, virtual maps, audio and video records.
Their training at the Caspian Higher School of Interpreting and Translation was very useful and the students noted that they have already known the most of information provided in the museum. However, now, due to using the multimedia information technologies every piece of information has been perceived in an absolutely new light!
The second and third days were completely devoted to the interpretation practice at different meetings. During these meetings, our master students were doing simultaneous interpreting in dummy booths. They had a chance to practice interpreting on the most various topics. The first meeting was devoted to Donald Trump’s election as the U.S. President; the second one was devoted to success stories of a number of the projects financed by the EU. By the way, the students managed to hear their native language as representatives of Ukraine and Georgia were given the floor.
On the third day master students had to plunge into the highly specialized area and interpret reports on disease control issues, such diseases as aphtha and bird flu. The last meeting was devoted to social issues, namely, to xenophobia and racism.
During this study visit, our master students got acquainted with many professional interpreters who shared their first-hand experience and gave practical “survival” advice. Moreover, the students were given an opportunity to meet Susanna Mattila who is responsible for interpreters’ recruitment to the European parliament. She spoke about how interpreters are selected for each meeting and about the accreditation process for staff interpreters and freelancers. And on the last day, Alina and Ekaterina had a chance to see a familiar face! In the corridors of the European Commission, they met no other than Paolo Torrigiani, who had given such fascinating and useful classes to MA students of the Caspian Higher School of Interpreting and Translation last spring that all the students were looking forward to seeing him again.
Our master students are absolutely sure that these study visits are a huge motivation to work hard and study a lot to become a professional interpreter. As for the wafers, they were very tasty indeed!

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