30 August 2017

Another big news: I went in for a second interview yesterday at what I’ll now call the company, and I really liked what I heard. So this morning I shot the managers who interviewed me an e-mail saying, word for word, that “I’d really like to take on this challenge if you’ll give me the opportunity”.

I had turned down said opportunity once before, in an e-mail from what seems like light years ago. This was after my first interview for a Coordinator role. They hadn’t given me the job, but I withdrew my application before I could find out either way.

I thought long and hard this time, and finally decided to go with it. It’s a scary new journey (if they take me), but ultimately I believe it’s one worth taking. The position I interviewed for this time is a crossover between a project manager and an analyst role. I’d be in charge of – and I’ve said this a million times to a million people in the past 24 hours – coming up with and implementing measures to ensure effectiveness of training, within and outside the classroom. The job would be project-based. I come up with them. I run them.

Sounds good, right? I’m not sure if you know this, but I’ve always been interested in behavioural economics. I could say I was ‘obsessed’ at one point. Game theory and all. I used to tear through volumes and volumes of ‘pop economics’ books and lap up theories about how people make decisions and what influences them. And now, in what appears to be a culmination of my studies, I’ll get to apply the science in a real-world situation. A mass experiment, if you’d like. And get paid for it.

So it’s a pretty sweet deal from the personal interest side of it. The downside of it is that I’ll have to work in a quiet partitioned office (which I hadn’t been so keen on in the past). On the (literally) bright side, the office is nice and small, airy, and I can have the table by the window (according to my would-be boss). The glare from the sunlight will be horrible there though, so I don’t know. Whoa, slow down. I’m getting ahead of myself.

The real downside of it is that I’ll have to give up a large chunk of my subtitles work. I think I’ll be okay with Netflix. But the other company I’m not so sure about. There’s a set requirement of how many programme hours their freelancer has to undertake per month. It’ll be really difficult, probably impossible, to reach that requirement, so I may well have to give up being their contracted freelancer.

In any case, it’s decided. I’ve sent the e-mail. There’s no going back. Now what’s left is to sit tight and wait for their call, be it the heralder of yes news or no news. The wonderful thing in all this is that there is no bad news. There’s just one scary path, and a comfortable one. If I don’t get the job, I’m perfectly happy with what I have. If I get the job, it’ll scare me to death but I’ll learn a lot along the way, wherever that way may lead.

So, let’s wait and see. We also never got round to discussing the salary. I’ll be happy if they don’t skimp and offer what I asked for. But I also can’t help hoping for just a little bit more…

Humans, what greedy creatures we are.

With love,



25 August 2017

Big news: I quit my job two days ago.

And I realised one thing about myself: I make major decisions pretty quickly.

The decision to go part-time was made over the course of one evening, and this one was too, well overnight if you count the time I spent in bed calculating how much I can earn from only translating subtitles.

Here’s how the decision came about.

On the afternoon of the 22nd, I was at home working on my subtitles (a Turkish historical series that’s a right b*tch to translate). Then I started having a conversation with my subtitles supervisor at my new company (I’m officially freelancing for two media providers now, yey!)

We were negotiating my monthly workload, and it became blindingly clear during the intense discussion that it’s just not going to work. I’m starting my CELTA teacher training course on 3rd October, which is going to be 13 and a half hours per week, then there’s homework on top of that. Then there’s the ten hours of show that my supervisor and I agreed on, then there’s my teaching (I got 3 new students hooray!). And then I still want to continue working for my first subtitles company. The shows are varied and interesting. I get to translate Korean content (from an English source though). Plus, the new project coordinator is super nice and I don’t want to disappear from her radar.

And that with 20 hours at Wall Street English on top? I might die, or go crazy, which is entirely possible.

So on the morning of the 23rd, I called my manager and informed him that I am resigning at the end of September. I’ve filled in the resignation form and will tender it first thing when I see him today.

Life without Wall Street English will be strange. It’s become a big part of my life in the past year and a half – the people, the place, the atmosphere. But life must go forward, and something’s gotta give.

Hello freelancer life! May the Gods be kind.



7 August 2017

The beginning of a post from 2 August 2017:

I’m sitting in an air-conditioned café, sipping an over-heated americano. 

It’s been a long morning. 

I woke up at six. Got ready. Had muesli for breakfast, then left the house around seven.

Oh how things change.

On the morning of the 2nd, I was waiting for my subtitles translation interview and testing session at iflix, where a former manager at Wall Street English is now working.

I had the interview, did the test, got the job. My future in the subtitles translation world was looking rosy.

Then my universe was turned upside down when, a few days ago, I was approached by the former National Service Manager of Wall Street English regarding a job opening.

As you may or may not know, I am not currently looking for a full-time job. I’m happy with my part-time and freelance work. 

But – and you’re going to think me shallow for this – it pays so well. So, so very well. Well actually if you take into account all the revenue I get from my freelance work I’m currently earning higher than the base amount. But salaries can be negotiated and the high base salary is an indicator of the significance of the position.

And that attracts me.

So I expressed my interest, sent off my CV and cover letter, completed the online personality questionnaire, and this morning finished my 10,000-word long interview answers. (Overboard? That’s me.)

The more I prepared for this interview and though about it, the more I want it (which is probably a good sign). The job is a coordinator position in a large multinational. It will be challenging. It will utilise all my skills. It will expand my business horizons and grow my potential. And hopefully I’ll be working with competent, passionate people if the HR department have been doing their job properly.

I think I can do it. I really do. I think my skills set is a good match for the position. I think it is about time I had a challenging job. I’ve been coasting along for the past few years, time to buckle down and do some serious work.

The interview is tomorrow, at 8:30am. I’ve arranged to meet my grandfather – a corporate veteran – in the morning to ask for his advice.

The rest of today will be me reviewing my answers and trying not to think about the interview. I’m on my way to three appointments: coffee with a dear, dear friend, an interview with a PhD student/university lecturer who’s doing research on subtitles translation for her dissertation, then dinner with my group of friends from school. Which I think is perfect. 

I wonder if I’ll be able to sleep tonight. I’m glad it’s happening sooner rather than later though. 


*Deep breaths*

Here goes…

14 July 2017

I’ve been really busy lately.

Not constantly busy. Cyclically busy. 

There would be days when I’m going from task to task, others when I’m just watching Korean dramas and napping.

Not sure if that’s healthy, but that’s how things are at the moment.

The past week has been one of those lazy weeks – no subtitles work, no writing, no teaching. Plus, my dad was off for four days, which makes it feel like a holiday and exponentially adds to the laziness. 

Things took a dramatic turn a few days ago. I got a writing assignment, which on its own is very little work. Then a surprise student (well actually two that I’m teaching together) whose parents want me to fit in as many lessons for as possible in two weeks (they don’t live in Bangkok and are only in town for that amount of time), so I’ve allocated five lessons (two hours each, plus prepping time) to them.

Then yesterday I got my new subtitles assignment: a Korean variety show. It’s a little over one hour but being a variety show there are a gazillion lines to translate (it’s basically 69 minutes of non-stop talking). The really awesome thing about this is that since there’s so much effort needed the company has decided to give a rate increase of 30% per programme minute, which makes the sum nice and, well, nice.

I started doing it yesterday. If the first two minutes are any indicator, it’s going to be heaps of fun. Short retorts and jokes, which means a playful translation, which is more relaxing than one with a serious tone. But it’s also going to be a headache pronoun-wise. The hosts are of varying ages and I have to be careful to use formal and informal language accordingly. It’s not difficult, just time-consuming and sometimes requires guesswork when the Korean (of which I know enough to be able to distinguish between formal and informal speech) isn’t indicative of age.

So yes, after lazing around for many days, I’m suddenly having to buckle up and get down to work. I’m a little stressed actually because of the subtitles work. It’s going to take a really long time and for the first time I’m not sure if I actually have enough hours to finish the work. There might be some 4-5am mornings in the next few days.

We’ll see. In any case, yes work is better than no work.

As always, I’ll do my best.

Please wish me luck!



21 June 2017

My work star is on the rise.

I recently got my first writing gig (articles on psychology for a foundation based in Chiang Mai), and subtitles work is flowing in. I’m on the fourth episode of my first Korean drama, and I was asked today whether I’d be interested in editing other translators’ work (Surely that must mean my translation isn’t too bad, right?).

I’m slightly concerned what it’ll be like come 3rd October when I begin my CELTA course. I’ve finished my application but have yet to submit it. I’ll do it soon. Now I’m wondering how it’ll be like time-management-wise. I’ll be working four days a week, studying three days a week. Granted, most of those are half-days. But there’ll be homework from CELTA. On top of that there’s the writing and the subtitles. And teaching my one private student. It’s going to be a tough 10 weeks.

I’m preparing for it though. I’ve started cutting down my sleeping hours to a maximum of 8 (from 9-10). I want my body to get used to sleeping less, and I think 8 hours is a pretty solid amount. I’ve also cut down on my nap time. No more long naps, 30 minutes maximum.

I’m also trying to not be lazy and get on the treadmill. I want my body to be in better condition. Plus, my weight has been creeping up these past months. So it’s a win-win situation.

Overall, I’m pretty happy though. I’m doing something that I really like. The subtitles job has truly been a blessing. And I’m enjoying it even more now that it’s a Korean drama. For some reason, it’s much easier to translate. The first time I watch the video, I already have a running commentary in Thai in my head. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched so many of them that I know how they work. Plus, this drama is really fun. It’s a medical investigative drama. The production and acting is solid, and the storyline imaginative.

So yes, I’ve been doing well. Slightly iffy about the future, but you never know until you try, and I’ve been pretty easy on myself these past few years. Time to buckle up and push forward.

Hope you’re all doing well!




15 May 2017

I went to visit my grandfather at the hospital yesterday.

He had checked himself in the day before due to chest pains. He was having difficulty breathing. And given how many times he had had heart surgery he wasn’t going to take any chances.

My mother called him yesterday morning and established what floor he was on, then we set off for the hospital.

Arriving in the spacious room with about thirty beds, I saw him. He was sitting on the bed, hunched over a few pieces of paper. He had not seen us.

The image struck me. He looked so vulnerable and alone. And the thing is, he is vulnerable and alone. He has a live-in helper, but that’s nothing compared to family.

He looked up, saw us, and put his papers away. My dad brought stools, and my mom and I sat down next to the bed. We sat with him for two hours, talking about this and that. My dad sat some distance away on the visitor’s bench, playing a game on his phone.

I was the one who suggested leaving. It was getting late afternoon and I wanted to sort through our DVD collection when I got home.

My grandpa was sad that we were leaving. He didn’t say anything, but you could feel it. As we walked away I looked back, and wished I hadn’t.

He looked dejected. There was no better word to describe the image that I saw. He was sitting alone on the bed, and loneliness weighed down around him.

The whole episode reminded me of the fact that I still have my grandpa, that he is alone in his house, far away from us, and that he could leave us at a moment’s notice.

I’ll call him today to check up on him. I’ll also make time to go visit him on my days off. There’s a bus I can take that goes straight to his house.

I hope for the sake of me and him that the image stays with me. So I never forget that I have one very important person I need to spend time with.

I will try my best not to forget. I really will. This is my promise to myself.

Let’s not forget our elderly relatives. Let’s love them and be with them as freely as we do our friends and colleagues.

Until next time,

A thoughtful Val