Off topic: translators "exiled" in a third country
Thread poster: Krzysztof Kajetanowicz
Krzysztof Kajetanowicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 07:45
English to Polish
+ ...
Feb 23, 2010

I've noticed that a lot of people here live in a country that has nothing to do with their language pair; sometimes thousands of kilometres away from their theoretical motherland. If in Europe, more southernly than northernly in general.

It got me thinking that the freedom of freelancing combined with a translator's solitude at work makes it possible, at least from a professional standpoint, to live anywhere you want (save for client-translator time zone mismatches, maybe).

The question is, at least for those who moved as adults and by choice: which came first - the choice to live abroad or the choice to be a translator?

And does this affect your client relationships?

[Edited at 2010-02-23 11:06 GMT]


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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:45
English to Japanese
+ ...
Not to be so picky, but Feb 23, 2010

doesn't the word "exile" have a bad connotation? It usually means one being kicked out of the country or defecting from one country to another.

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Krzysztof Kajetanowicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 07:45
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
yeah Feb 23, 2010

I was trying to be humurous.

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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:45
English to Japanese
+ ...
Oh, okay, Feb 23, 2010

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz wrote:

I was trying to be humurous.


Sorry, I didn't get your joke.


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Aradai Pardo Martínez  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 00:45
Swedish to Spanish
+ ...
Hi! Feb 23, 2010

One of the main reasons -although not the very main one- I decided to become a translator was the freedom it would allow me in order to move around as much as I want or need.

I have a bit of a gipsy soul and, at least so far, I haven't been able to decide where I want to settle down. It is therefore very important for me to be able to have a job that fits into my way of life.

It's really a good question! I'd like to know if others feel the same!


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Jennifer Gordon Taylor  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:45
Czech to English
+ ...
Translation gives you the freedom to move but it's not all rosy... Feb 23, 2010

I became a translator for pragmatic reasons, a few years after moving abroad - I studied Czech and then moved to Prague, so it seemed like a good idea to me, although it had been something I enjoyed at university anyway.

Then I fell in love with a Portuguese guy and ended up moving to Portugal. Although my Portuguese skills are still quite limited (my own fault!), I have been able to continue with the Czech translation, which is great for my financial situation, especially in a place where half-decent jobs are few and far between.

As for relationships with clients, I feel restricted by my situation. I only work with agencies, because I think it would be difficult to get direct clients when the vast majority of them for my language combination are going to be based in the Czech Republic. I know I don't have to meet them in the flesh, but I believe it would help a lot. Since I've not done anything about it yet, I haven't been able to prove myself wrong.

And of course, there's the issue of cross-border payments, but that's something that affects most of us, regardless of language combinations.

As time goes on, however, it seems stranger and stranger for me to be doing this - I feel oddly isolated after spending a day focusing on a Czech text and then having to step out into the real world and remember where I am! As far as I'm concerned, the sooner my Portuguese is good enough to start translating, the better, and that is my goal - both for my personal and professional development.


[Edited at 2010-02-23 16:40 GMT]


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Vincenzo Di Maso  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 06:45
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
same situation and same Country! Feb 23, 2010

Jennifer Gordon wrote:

I became a translator for pragmatic reasons, a few years after moving abroad - I studied Czech and then moved to Prague, so it seemed like a good idea to me, although it had been something I enjoyed at university anyway.

Then I fell in love with a Portuguese guy and ended up moving to Portugal. Although my Portuguese skills are still quite limited (my own fault!), I have been able to continue with the Czech translation, which is great for my financial situation, especially in a place where half-decent jobs are few and far between.

As for relationships with clients, I feel restricted by my situation. I only work with agencies, because I think it would be difficult to get direct clients when the vast majority of them for my language combination are going to be based in the Czech Republic. I know I don't have to meet them in the flesh, but I believe it would help a lot. Since I've not done anything about it yet, I haven't been able to prove myself wrong.

And of course, there's the issue of cross-border payments, but that's something that affects most of us, regardless of language combinations.

As time goes on, however, it seems stranger and stranger for me to be doing this - I feel oddly isolated after spending a day focusing on a Czech text and then having to step out into the real world and remember where I am! As far as I'm concerned, the sooner my Portuguese is good enough to start translating, the better, and that is my goal - both for my personal and professional development.


[Edited at 2010-02-23 16:40 GMT]

I feel Iam in the same situation as Jennifer. I felt in love with a Portuguese woman and I came to Portugal. My background covered Arabic and English, even if I could also speak Spanish. I feel I am in a double dimension. I work from home and I write and speak in Italian, English and Arabic. When I get out I am surrounded by the Portuguese world. I have to admit that with many people I still prefer to speak in English. My Portuguese skills are not so bad, but I feel lazy. Like Jennifer, for me it's great to work with another language, which has nothing to do with Portugal: Arabic.
I also started to translate from Portuguese, but clients contacted me. I prefer to focus on my languages, even if I hope one day to have a great command of this language. I feel oddly isolated too: hours with an Arabic text, then I hear Portuguese outside. A horse of another colour.
Anyway this situation doesn't affect me, as I love my job, regardless of location and language pairs.


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Alexandre Chetrite
France
Local time: 07:45
English to French
Parallel topic: Work environment and monotony Feb 23, 2010

Hello,

This is an interesting topic. I would like to ask a parallel question to all of you:

Being a freelancer (whether translator or designer or else) allows one to expatriate. This is a fact.

However, how do you cope with solitude (if you live alone, not married) and "repetitive" translation work?. Sometimes translations just become "machine like" work and one has to seek some diversity.I'm not taling about doing sports or getting a girlfriend (thought that might help a lot too. I'm talking about the translations only.

So I am asking: are those translators feeling monotony and solitude in work "bad" translators and those enjoying a diversified daily life even being overwhelmed with translations, the "good "ones (those who have the right technique and "savoir-faire")? Or is much more complex than this?I guess I'm talking about finding a balance...

Being organized personnally and professionnaly is one thing .But each situation is unique as each human being has its own personality.

How do you make your daily life more enjoyable to yourself and to others near you?

But be assured: I am not asking these questions because I feel monotony or I may be disorganised! That is not the case...I heard so many people (not translators) saying that being a translator is boring because very repetitive and I don't know what to tell them.
They just don't understand what kind of satisfaction a translator might get from his wor
k.


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Arianne Farah  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:45
Member (2008)
English to French
Translator first, move after :-) Feb 24, 2010

I started translating as a favor to a friend, discovered I had a knack for it & enjoyed the work and then went back to University to get a B.A. specialized in Translation (figured if this was to be my career I would do it right) I breezed through the bachelor in 2 years (got credits transfered from my B.Sc.)

At the end of my B.A. I thought that I was facing my last "summer of freedom", Canada, like the US, has labour laws that only impose 2 weeks vacation a year... I saw an flyer at University for a pilot "study Chinese in China program" with a guaranteed scholarship if the student had over a certain GPA. So off I went - how often does your government pay you a 2-month trip to the other side of the world

I returned to Canada and started job hunting, I found a position as an editor/QM in-house and worked there for 18 months.

After the first 12 months, I was restless... I decided that freelance was the way to go, I had gotten some in-house experience to "legitimize" my degree & abilities and felt that I was ready to make the plunge and I started to plan my move.

I decided to move abroad to avoid the brutal Montreal winters which would inevitably turn me into a hermit 8-months of the year. I looked for a big/international city with a large expat population but where the cost of living was relatively low and the violent crime rate was very very low. Asia was the best bet. And since I already had some basics in Mandarin, I thought, why not Shanghai? at worst, I'll just move again if I don't like it... it's been over 2 years now and I'm loving it

Client-wise I've had no problem; to go from a snowball to something the size of the Expo '67 geodesic dome took about 12 months The first 6-8 months though I believe I spent much more time job hunting than working but since I was also studying Mandarin at the university I feel it was time well spent

As for the monotony or solitude, expat communities tend to be relatively close knit since most people move to countries like China and leave behind their support net of friends and family so it's easy to meet people and socialize and build friendships. The only caveat is that people leave regularly too.

So in a nutshell that's how a French Canadian ends up working in China

I'm also not the only one - 2 years ago I believe there were 6 or 7 translators in proz offering English to French (all variants) in China, today, there are 28 - a 4-fold growth in 2 years!


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Mattia Marcon  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 13:45
English to Italian
+ ...
gipsy first, then translator, then expat Feb 24, 2010

"One of the main reasons -although not the very main one- I decided to become a translator was the freedom it would allow me in order to move around as much as I want or need.

I have a bit of a gipsy soul and, at least so far, I haven't been able to decide where I want to settle down. It is therefore very important for me to be able to have a job that fits into my way of life."

I like travelling, I like different cultures, so here I am in Bangkok.
The answer to the question is simple: why climbing the Everest? Because it's there...

Being a freelance translator was my vocation, living in Asia my dream, so why settle down in my place? I don't miss Italy or Europe, and most of all I don't feel the need to live in my home country. On the other hand, I am in love with Asia and I go crazy for this city, if I can even work here, what can I need more?

Working mainly with agencies is the same here and there, but with the added value of going out in a large city when I finish my job, working and living in a more international environment...Unfortunately, unlike Arianne I don't speak the local language yet, so I cannot take advantage completely of the situation for now. I am studying and the day will come...The only problem I face in living so far outside EU is documents and visas.

[Edited at 2010-02-24 05:36 GMT]


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Krzysztof Kajetanowicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 07:45
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
fantastic stories guys. Feb 24, 2010

Keep them coming.

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xxxAguas de Mar
First a nomad, then a translator? Feb 24, 2010

I was born in Mexico. I always liked languages. I spent one year in Canada studying French, and years later I decided to emigrate to Montreal (I was still young to put up with the long, cold winters). I did not start contemplating translation as a job until I lived in Montreal, and then again, it was only a second choice besides my "main" job. But there I met my now husband (it seems to me like there tends to be some kind of sentimental relationship involved in many decisions to live in other countries), who made it clear that he wanted to be part of the foreign service, a fact which I did not mind since I have always enjoyed getting to know new places, new cultures, and new people.

After we moved to his first assignment (which turned out to be Mexico), it dawned on me that translation was the perfect "portable" job, and it was then when I really started pursuing the career in a professional way (full time, courses, certification, tax status, etc.). The fact that I have a degree in Communication Sciences (major in journalism) also complemented this career choice very well.

Most of my clients are based in the US and Canada. I have lost some who did not feel confident about working with someone "so far" or just "in another country", but most of them do not mind. I have arrangements to simplify communications and payment methods, and that helps a lot, too. I have not been able to work in some projects that require "physical residence" in the US, although there is nothing I regret in these cases.

I now have a busy social life in Brazil. I am lonely when I am actually translating, but not the rest of the time. This said, I like working alone. I love being my own boss and setting my own pace.

Our next stop is Bogotá, for two years, in July. So I will be speaking Spanish again, but I already know I will sorely miss my friends in Brazil. We have had a great time here. I have not left yet, and I am already full of saudade. But this is the life I chose, and I love it!


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