My name is Jamie and I have decided to start a blog that documents some happenings in my life as I move from my student life to a more professional one (but still fun, I hope!).
“WHO IS THIS GUY? WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE?,” I hear someone yell from the back of the room. Well, let me try to answer those questions.
So who is the writer of this post? Well, as I said before, my name is Jamie, and I am currently a master’s student at Swansea University studying Translation and Interpreting between German, Spanish, and English (and yes, I am a fan and avid user of the Oxford comma). At the same time, I am have also been doing translations and teaching for a year and a half now on the side. But how did you get to this point, I hear you ask. What led you to Swansea, teaching, and translation?
Well, to put it simply, it was originally an escape from my previous life at the ripe old age of 23. My undergraduate programme in the US (does anyone else notice the irony of ‘programme’ and ‘US’ or is it just me?) was a five-year course where I converted classes in Biomedical Engineering, Biological Sciences, and German (as a foreign language) into three Bachelor’s degrees. This also included spending the final year in Germany (actually, I ended up spending a longer time in Germany than that, but that is for another time).
For most of my studies I was doing internships or work on the side that related in different ways to what I was studying and while I liked it at first, they would always become something that was tedious/boring/not worth (in my opinion) the effort. This culminated at working for a very interesting company near Freiburg in Germany (awesome area, highly recommended), but doing an internship that I hated on the whole (nice people, nice atmosphere, and I started to have an appreciation for the work once I left). It was something that I could do but it was not something that I enjoyed.
To preface the following explanation, I always looked at my studies the following way: Biomedical Engineering and German were my ‘main’ fields of study. They were the ones that were combined in the university programme that I did and that was the reason that I went to the University of Rhode Island in the first place. Biological Sciences was the ‘infiltrator’ which confused everyone as no one had combined the IEP (this special engineering/language programme) with anything else like it before. So my outlook at university was ‘I am going to be an engineer, probably in Germany’.
To be honest, I guess I should have seen the disappointment coming from a mile away. There had been signs during my studies that I liked some parts and hated other parts. Unfortunately, the parts that I hated where what could be found in industry and the parts I liked could only be found in academia. ‘Unfortunately’ because I really disliked academia. Attending classes was fine, but the whole outside-of-the-classroom-doing-research-in-order-to-be-employed-by-the-university-and-having-to-come-up-with-stuff-so-that-you-weren’t-let-go-from-your-job, let’s-do-something-even-though-it-has-little-or-no-value-because-that-is-how-it-has-always-been-done, and the awkwardness and inflexibility of that kind of life (at least, how I perceived it at the time, although I am sure there are a few exceptions depending on the field) was not what I wanted. So when I got into industry with this final internship, I was hoping that I had just been wrong about the parts that I like and I would, in fact, find something in the real world of biomedical engineering that I really enjoyed. When that didn’t happen, I started thinking about alternatives.
Thinking about those alternatives reminded me of how much I loved languages. During my formative years, I had started learning languages and had kept going (in one form or another) until being hit by this ‘midlife’ crisis. When I had thought of languages, I had always thought of pure languages and not of a more applied approach like translation. I had always thought that studying a language at a university was probably a waste of time. Certainly taking language classes were beneficial, but a degree in the study of a foreign language often led to situations that I would not enjoy working in. My thoughts eventually turned to translation. During my internship, as the native English speaker, people would often come to me to ask about how certain phrases sounded in English or how I would translate something from German to English.
So I started looking. How does one become a translator? Well, one could just start applying for translation positions without any qualification whatsoever. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) you usually need some kind of experience, often a degree or certification of something, so there was no way I was going to be able to transition at the snap of my fingers in terms of making it a career.
I started looking into academic programmes for translation/translation studies/translation and interpreting and I came across something called the Programme du Mobilités Européennes en Traduction Spécialisée (METS, Programme of European Mobility in Specialised Translation) that was highly recognised by the European Union and allowed for two separate Erasmus (European exchange) semesters at member institutions (in my case, Universität Wien in Vienna and Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona). The British member institution at the time (at this point, they are looking to include other British institutions although we will have to see if that changes with Brexit) was Swansea University, which for family reasons was also very convenient for me. One thing led to another and …
So that is me and how I got to this point in my life, at least in terms of translation. But how does teaching come into the equation? Does this blog not also talk about teaching? How very perceptive of you! Fortunately for your rapidly tiring eyes, that story is a much shorter one. Teaching was something that I kind of fell into by accident. Seeing how teachers were treated by their students, colleagues and superiors when I was at school, I frankly wasn’t interested in becoming one. I definitely didn’t want to become a professor of any kind (if you haven’t gotten it yet, the atmosphere of academia really isn’t for me). I had done language tandems (also known as one-on-one language exchanges) but that never felt like teaching.
At Swansea, I became interested in a new group that was being set up called the Language Zone, which I assume was like the thousands of language cafés that I had taken part in throughout the past several years. To my surprise, I found myself teaching a very informal, German conversation class along with a German Erasmus student to other interested students. What’s more, I even enjoyed it! When the other ‘professor’ left after the first semester, I continued on. I then started looking into language teaching and, long story short, spent the following summer in Granada, Spain, doing a CELTA qualification from Cambridge English.
But what are we?
So what does any of this have to do with this blog? I mean, cool story bro, but what do I as the reader get out of this? Well, to answer your question, I now have a lifestyle that is potentially very mobile, doing something that I enjoy which allows me to do other things that I really enjoy. This is also coming to a point of great change in my life as I go from primarily a student to primarily a professional (but I’m not like a normal professional, I’m a cool professional) and I would like to share that. This blog will contain posts about teaching, translation, and travelling and (maybe) everything in between including my experiences, resources that I have found useful while teaching and/or translating, and other things that may be of use.
I hope you have seen something that you like. Please don’t hesitate to keep reading posts on this blog if you are interested! Thanks for visiting =)
Too Long, Didn’t Read Version: very young midlife crisis, young me made a mistake, engineering isn’t me, yay languages, translation, teaching, running wild and free with my luscious hair blowing in the wind and writing posts about it.