This entry was written by Emma May Price, who completed both a BA in Combined Studies in Arts (2012) and the MA in Translation Studies (2013). Emma specialises on French and Spanish and now works full-time as a professional translator in Spain. There is more info on her website: http://www.emmamaytranslate.com/.
I’ve always loved learning foreign languages, from my short spell in a bilingual school in Buenos Aires, to sitting in French and Spanish grammar lessons for the IB in Singapore. Although I did have other interests, such as music, I found that being able to read, write and speak in another language was both thrilling and challenging. There was no doubt in my mind that I had to pursue my three passions at university, and fortunately for me, Durham facilitated this through the BA in Combined Honours in Arts. This flexible programme allowed me not only to take French, Spanish and Music, but to select modules within each of these subject areas to suit my interests and strengths. These inevitably revolved more around the linguistic-orientated modules rather than the culture or literature ones, eventually leading to my final-year translation modules. Although I was not particularly strong in translation to begin with, I enjoyed every moment of working on our set translation tasks and reflecting during the weekly feedback discussions, and this is when I realised that perhaps an MA in Translation would be the best way to bring all the aspects I loved about languages together.
One of the areas I appreciated most about the MA in Translation Studies was being able to take part in seminar discussions with fellow students who were just as interested as I was. Working with other translators is so important and often overlooked in the translation process, but at Durham it was always encouraged and was a key component throughout. Equally, the timed translation assignments and the final translation project were essential in helping me to understand how I manage both short and long-term deadlines in translation tasks, as well as which areas I needed to work on. The translation project was a surprisingly enjoyable end to the MA and created the first translation piece for my portfolio. As I was able to conclude the project at a distance, I was free to apply for a translation internship at an estate agency in Valencia, Spain, which tied in with the focus of my project (property and relocation).
This internship soon turned into two other positions within the same company, as translation project manager and then in-house translator/interpreter in parallel with responsibilities in sales and client care, which has allowed me to begin to map out my specialisations as a translator. I’ve learnt that it’s essential to have experience in a field other than pure translation in order to stand out as a translator, and this is an area I’m now dedicating more time to. Throughout my first year working as a professional translator I’ve constantly called upon the lessons I learnt during my MA, which were instilled in me through the right balance of theoretical and practical assignments, thought-provoking and relevant to any aspiring translator. I feel very well prepared to begin a career in translation thanks to Durham and the support of the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, and am still referring back to all those theory books I bought in my first year!