Oh là là. Je pense que je suis folle. Un peu, certainement.
I’m beginning a Master’s of Translation program in a few weeks, with a focus on French to English translation. I chose to do French because, oddly, it’s become my strongest language now. “Oddly” because I have been learning and using Spanish for a very, very long time, albeit off and on. I think it’s the lack of consistency that moved Spanish below French. Since taking that one year of French at UW, French has pretty much much taken over my life! Je l’adore! If I were to settle down and commit to a little Spanish review each day, they’d probably be equal, in terms of my language level. But all that is to say – I’m getting a Master’s in French to English translation now, but I’m planning on using my translation skills for other languages in the future. I WILL review Spanish, but I’ve been very diligent with my Russian and German studies, lately. I would love to be a French and Russian translation specialist, да?
Originally, when I had returned to school and began classes at UW, I had gone under the assumption that I would continue onwards, after my B.A. I wanted a Masters, I wanted a Ph.D. I wanted all of it. I love academics, and I assumed that I would simply become part of that world. But as time went on and I spent time talking to my favorite teachers, who were grad/doctorate students, themselves, the more I realized it wasn’t a life that I wanted. Finishing an undergrad degree at this age, with a young kid at home, was tiring enough. A Master’s at UW would demand so much more of my time. Plus, though UW is a great school and it’s impressive as hell that I graduated Magna cum Laude from this “public ivy”, I am really displeased at their treatment of grad students and their lack of respect for the Humanities. Don’t get me started… There are other colleges around this area, but let’s get real here. UW is the only one worth going to, as far as I’m concerned.
So I put that whole idea away and began looking at certificate options. I knew that I wanted to work with words and use my language skills. I’ve been reading French novels for months now. I’ve also been diligently watching French shows and doing French grammar reviews online. I could definitely use more work on my listening and speaking but yeah, my reading skills are pretty good. I considered the Localization Certification at UW, which seemed an obvious choice because of my tech background. But the truth is that I’ve been trying to move away from tech, and I prefer words and literature. When I said I wanted to move away from technology, I meant it! With that in mind, I registered for the Translation Certificate program with Bellevue College’s Continuing Education… and was very quickly put off by the horrible format and even worse first instructor. I won’t go into details there, but suffice to say, I dropped out of that program by week 4.
I began looking at online options for Translation studies. There’s plenty out there. I began applying for NYU’s Master’s of Translation program. I’m sure I’d get in to NYU, but I’m not keen to sign up for yet another round of expensive yearly tuition. A Master’s at UW could have set us back another $20-30/k per year. Nope. NYU’s Translation program is entirely online and a more “reasonable” $12k/year, the same as my undergrad. It was an option, but when I looked more closely at their program details, I realized it was very heavily geared towards business and legal translation. Meh. Not my cuppa tea. I found a few more options at highly-regarded universities in the U.S. but it’s the same everywhere – topics I’m not interested in (why would I leave tech to do legal and business?) or, though we can afford it, the cost is more than I want to deal with.
And then a friend of mine, who I’d met in Prague, popped into my head. She’s American but has been living abroad, teaching English for the past going-on-fifteen-years now. She got married, had a baby, and has spent years teaching in Prague, Bahrain, the Ukraine, and now in the UK (where her husband is from). She had recently done a Master’s program with an online university based in the UK, Open University. When I looked at their website and the program offerings, it looked promising. But I was leery because I wondered if it was something like the ridiculous, not-to-be-taken-seriously “University of Phoenix” here in the States. (Right? No, thank you.) So I started quizzing her on it and asked around. I discovered that it is, indeed, legitimate and well-regarded in the UK and around Europe and their Master’s programs are quite rigorous and in-depth. I’ve also been told that it’s a respected program as everyone knows the amount of work and self-discipline required to go through it.
Husband and I intend to move back to Europe at some point and, in the meantime, I have my sights set on breaking into the European working market. Having a Master’s in translation from OU will be a little leg-up in applying for international work. (My ultimate goal is to freelance and work from home for a global company, which will require me to travel occasionally. Is that lofty? Not really. Ask anyone who knows me – when I decide I want something, I make it happen!)
And that’s how I wound up here, about to start my first module of a Translation M.A. program with a British distance-learning university. One, the program is far more in-depth than any program that I’ve found in an American university – European translation standards are, generally, more stringent. Two, it’s reputable and known in European translation circles. Three, the cost. Let me say that again: THE COST. I can do an entire Master’s at OU for less than the cost of a full year of undergrad studies. (I’ve seen British students complaining about “how expensive” OU has become, but in the States, we call that “dirt cheap.”)
It’s very exciting. I’ve been wondering what the hell I’ve gotten myself into and having some serious doubts. But I logged on to the student site this afternoon, and I began looking through the modules and information. The doubts faded away immediately. This program covers so much more than I’d have gotten in the certificate program I first tried at Bellevue. It’s going to vastly improve my French, as I go along. And I’m super excited to be participating in the discussion forums, making connections, and “socializing” with Brits and other Europeans. It’s true. Y’all know what a little “Euro-snob” I am. Some things never change. Best of all, the work and modules themselves are done independently. I was getting a little tired of all the group work in other programs I’ve done.
It’s been amusing to see how “full circle” I’ve come. My routines and habits changed massively when I had my son, as it tends to happen. Then I started going back to school which kept me on a very tight schedule – it feels like I’ve been doing nothing but studying and reading and writing academic papers for years and years; I’ve been very uptight about going to bed early(ish) to accommodate said schedule and studying. Since finishing school and picking up freelance work again, I’ve slowly been reverting back to my old ways. I imagine once this Masters program has full-blown begun, it’ll look like my 20s again! One again, I’m hunched over my laptop most of the day, working online nonstop, staying up late, chugging coffee by the gallon, and studying to the wee hours. (Though the quality of the coffee I drink now has vastly improved from the days when I thought Starbucks was a good idea.) And just like when I was in my 20s, I have flaming red hair, new piercings, new tattoos, and am in the midst of learning five thousand languages again. *grin*