Monday, July 16, 2007
Thanks to the blogosphere, yesterday I found myself cuddled in the shadow as a hidden spectator of the private thoughts of many Americans enjoying their day to day life in Italy and I found in them so much that is within me! Some, like me, are just about to start the journey. Others are already living their dream (lucky you!). But also a few ex-expats confusingly "homesick" at home. (You know, you are back home in the States, but feel "homesick" for your old European life). Ah!, the joys of reverse-culture shock!.
To my surprise, a few ladies are back home in the States wishing they could return to Europe, and would do so if it were economically feasible! I stood here in disbelief and told myself; you already have something priceless you know! If you are an American who has lived in Italy, chances are your native language is English, but you can read Italian. To you I have a little tip that was given to me only a few months ago, and it has opened the world for me! Why didn't I know about this many years ago? I could have worked my way through medical school and been in residency by now! Hmmm... sometimes we cannot see what's in front of us.
In any case, I studied pre-med at the University of California, but through the UC system I was able to study in Siena and Padova, so my Italian is fluent. Many times I was praised for speaking to Italians in Italian since Americans are famously monolingual thereby forcing the tourism industry to translate everything into English for them. I never thought much about it and returned to the San Francisco Bay.
My overwhelming college expenses forced me to work my way through college as a Spanish medical interpreter. Word got around the hospital about my language skills and through my work at the hospital I met a language professor who advised me to contact translation agencies and work as an "Independent Contractor" which pays good and gives me geographical independence. So I decided to give it a try and contacted translation agencies in Italy, Europe, and all over the US and to my surprise within one week I began to receive work orders from the tourism industry to translate hotel, restaurant and travel advertising for those English-Only Americans!
There I was, using a CAT tools and searching Italian to English words in Proz.com term search! So I left my work at the hospital and my life changed!. Ah, imagine yourself translating documents from an outdoor café back in Italy… Yes, the deadlines are tight and the work needs attention to detail, but the opportunity is there and you have freedom to work your own hours from where ever in the world you are as long as you have internet. (They email me documents, and wire me the payments).
Translation agencies all over the world pride themselves in advertising that all documents are translated into English by "Native Speakers" (so you will ONLY be writing in English) but there are very few Americans who work as Italian translators considering the volume of Italian text that needs to be translated to English... I speak 4 languages but agencies have ONLY sent me Italian texts to translate! Why? because the demand for Italian to Native English is there!
My passion is medicine, so I opted for medical interpretations (spoken) instead of tourism translations (written). The busy summer season is here and I continue to receive letters from translation agencies in tourism wanting to recruit me... but I love medicine :) If you are a young ex-expat wanting to afford life in Europe, or an American stay at home mom living in Italy, why not translate Italian from home?
You know who you are, I found many of you today and please don't despair! You have options and independence! Remember that languages are a great stepping stone to where ever you want to go!