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Sometimes I wonder what I should answer when somebody asks where I come from. If I say from Finland, I feel that I am not telling the truth. If I answer from Italy, I feel the same way. Should I say I am a Finn from Italy?

The question is which country is my home country – Finland or Italy? I have lived here in Italy almost 15 years and my life is here. Here I know how to act in different situations; here I have my friends, doctor, hairdresser, plumber etc. People talk about the things that I know and I can express my opinions – positive and negative ones.

When I go to Finland, I sometimes feel as a stranger. People act in a different way, talk about things I do not know anything, but still there is a weird easiness in being there. Maybe it is that I can express myself in my mother tongue or maybe deep inside me that is the culture I know the best.

Maybe I have reached the point that I do not have a home country. I love Italy and its people – otherwise I would not live here. However, because I moved here when I was over 30 years old, I do not have any roots in this country. My roots are in Finland, but still I do not feel that Finland is my home country.

Maybe the right answer is “I’m a Finn from Italy”.

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Why am I afraid of doing translations?

“Mistrust makes life difficult. Trust makes it risky.”

(Mason Cooley)

When I started as a translator I was naive and trusted that, I make a work and the agency will pay me – very simple. In the beginning, I worked to “nice” agencies and they paid me regularly without problems. Then, I would say, in the beginning of 21st century everything changed. I made a translation, but the agency did not pay. It happened once, twice, but because the sums were small I did not do anything except accepted the loss.

The situation has worsened especially during the last couple of years. Now I have reached the point that I hardly dare to accept any work from new clients. There are so many bad-payers in the translation industry that the probability to bump into one is very high. I can still do some tiny translations to new clients, but I do not do anymore anything big as the first translation to the client.

Then I have some weird clients. Just a week ago, a client I have already done some translations and one test translation approached me. One message came to my main e-mail address asking if I were interested to do a project. From the same agency came another mail to my secondary email address asking if I were interested in doing a test translation (1000 words medical text!!). After I told that, I already have done a test and I have no intention to do any more free translations I have not heard of them anymore. However, I will be very careful with this agency if they still contact me.

Therefore, I can admit that nowadays I am scared to do any translations. I don’t trust that I will get paid ever – I’m even worried with old clients due to the fact that there is a very bad economic crisis going on and the agencies don’t care about us freelancers, they are only interested in making profit and earning their own living.

A trip to Zurich and why I still prefer Italy

Last weekend I decided that we could go to Zurich. Due to the fact that my husband works their most of the time and therefore has a tiny flat there, so we don’t have to stay at a hotel. The Swiss trains are nice and clean.  I purchased to my daughter, 13, a junior card that cost 30 SFr and with this card she can travel free accompanied by one parent all over Switzerland. Just fantastic! To my son and me I purchased half price card. Still trains are quite expensive in Switzerland.

 

Zurich is a nice city. The public transportation system is simply fantastic. Here in Italy, we live 10km outside Como and bus connections are miserable. When I want to take train to Milan, the trains are old, dirty, and always late. In Switzerland, they announced that the train is 2 minutes late. In Italy, they could announce that the train is NOT late.

However, everything is far too expensive at Zurich. When we 4 persons eat in a restaurant, it costs a small fortune, but obviously, the Swiss are rich, because Saturday evening all the restaurants are full. In a supermarket, I just watched the price tags and wondered how somebody can afford to live in Zurich.  Zurich is very clean, cars stop to let pedestrians to cross the street, there are cycle lines everywhere, and people really obey traffic rules.

Maybe for me the problem is that everything is so disciplined. I guess this is the main reason I have decided to live in the other part of the Alps across the border. Italy is chaotic, Italians are undisciplined, nobody cares about traffic rules, pedestrians can make 10 Ave Maria before crossing the road and cycle line is something unknown here. Still in this country, there is more joy of living. Neighbors may have a party and I don’t call immediately police, if I breach a law a little bit nobody cares. The best in Italy is the freedom to live and let others live.