My Journey (Part II)

31 10 2012

For My Journey Part I please click here

Coming back home with my new found independence, language skills and a love of nature…I was dumped back into the reality of finding a job and passing University entrance exams (again, as I’d already done it in Australia). I enrolled in a prep course and got not one, but two jobs teaching English (my first “proper” jobs).

I wanted to study biology at University to become a marine biologist, so I decided that a scuba diving course would be a good head start. My scuba diving instructor at the time was helping an American diving insurer (Diver’s Alert Network) set up in Brazil and they needed all insurance brochures, articles and etc. translated into Portuguese. My instructor, who knew I was fresh back from Oz and a teacher, offered me my first translation job.

You would think that I would have fallen in love with it there and then and been a translator since…But, no. I did love it and the fact that I could earn a lot more than teaching, but I still fancied myself a biologist. So, when I managed to get into one of the top biology courses in Brazil I put the translation career aside and focused on that.

Well, I got a new job teaching English nearer the university and thought that was the end of my brief translation career. However, my knowledge of English seemed to stand out more than my interest in biology with some of my teachers, and they started asking me to translate their academic articles into English. Before I knew it, there I was translating again…

If you thought that this would make me realize that I was supposed to be a translator. Well, not really… In my four years as an undergraduate student I realized that marine biology wasn’t for me (at least not the field work) and started working as a medical researcher in the university’s hospital.  I quit teaching, quit translations and focused solely on medical research for four years.

However, once again my knowledge of languages superseded my biology skills and other researchers and physicians in the hospital started asking for my help with translating and correcting their articles in English. When I finished my second research grant and it was time to take the plunge and go for a doctorate in medical research, it finally dawned on me that I had loved the last four years not because I loved working in a lab, but because I had the opportunity to read, translate and work with languages – i.e. learning and communicating important medical research to worldwide audiences. And that was my calling!

But how do you go from being the “weekends and spare time” translator to a full time translator? My first step was quitting the research job and taking a job as an English teacher, at least then I would be working with languages and more likely to find good contacts (or so I thought).  As good an idea as it was, teaching didn’t really leave much time for me to pursue the translation career (it is somewhat underpaid required me to work several hours) , and very quickly I got side tracked. I kept taking the odd translation job from my former teachers, professors and now from my pupils, but did not really focus on becoming a full time translator.

I continued doing that and working as a teacher for another couple of years until I decided that if I didn’t focus on creating my own business I would end up teaching English forever (which I loved, but did not fancy struggling for money forever). Again, very courageously, and perhaps very naively,  I quit my teaching job, sold my car to buy a laptop and pay the initial costs and, in two months, I had opened a company.

I thought now I was on the right track… I had a few clients for whom I’d been translating for years, particularly in the academic world and it was only a matter of time before I would be working full time again. Little did I know…That same year I was diagnosed with a malignant skin cancer and was literally confined to my bed for over 3 months (which as far as cancer timelines go, it was not long at all!).

Lying in my bed, with only my laptop to hand and no money, I was faced with the daunting reality that I couldn’t just give up. So I didn’t…

(Continues in Part III)




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