I started to work as a Chinese-English freelance translator during my third year of my bachelor’s degree. Freelancing is an appealing option for many university students – it gives you exposure to real industrial experience, you gain a variety of“employable” skills, it allows flexibility so that you get to choose when to work in order to align it with your study commitments, and it helps you to make some extra income.

 That being said, translation as a freelancer whilst at university can also be challenging especially when you have to juggle multiple deadlines. Given that the process of translation is fairly lengthy, organisation becomes a vital skill. Similarly, it is important to prioritise tasks and set healthy boundaries so that you are not overload with work. While it is tempting to say yes to every task, be aware of the toll it can have on your academic work and your general wellbeing. Not to mention the fact that feeling extremely tired can kill your productivity. Thus, working as a freelancer has definitely helped to build my skillset.  

Forme, translation is not only a job, but a passion. Translation is about understanding what is beneath a word or sentence in order to be ableto communicate it in another language. It requires fluency in both the source language (i.e. the language being translated from) and target language (i.e. the language being translated into), cultural sensitivity, empathy, and creativity.

Drawing upon my experience, I have decided to list three reasons why I love being a Chinese-English translator. I hope this can beof help for anyone who is thinking to start a career in translation.


1. I love enabling communication

I enjoy translating because it enables to bridge different languages. It is the necessary tool for effective and empathetic communication between different cultures. I believe my mixed heritage played a critical role in this. I grew up in Italy with a Chinese mother and an Italian father. Ever since I can remember, I have been exposed to two very different, even contrasting, cultures. I have come to appreciate the beauties of diversity and bridging the gap between different cultures - translation is for me the perfect way to do so.

 2. I love Chinese characters

I have always been fascinated by Chinese characters’ origins and evolution, as well as their aesthetics (I am also a big fan of Chinese calligraphy!). Because the texts I translate cover a wide range of topics, I might come across a character I have never seen before. Or I might discover a hidden meaning of a known character. Hence, translation is a great way to keep your vocabulary polished and up to date.

 3. I love learning

Generally, translators specialise in a particular field (e.g. law, medicine, tourism). Because I translate on a variety of subjects, my work requires me to do some research as well. I take this as an opportunity for learning and getting to know the world around me a little bit better. Therefore, translation helps me to expand my general knowledge.This is why I love translating – it is intellectually exciting and very rewarding.

Written by Elena Yumin Paci. Elena is a very active member within the YiLu community. You can find more about her here.

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