After a mini-hiatus (I'm busy launching a new site), today I thought I’d go into working with a foreign language (this applies to any language, not just Russian). I'm sure plenty of people that stop by my amazingly handsome blog are people studying Russian (or wife hunting) that will probably end up here fighting hookers at some point so I thought I’d share my experience.
With me, I had a vagina-neutralizing passion for learning the language which ended up with me working over here in the media (if you didn't see it, you can check out my back story here), but like a lot of people out there, I didn't know what the shit I was going to do with my language skills.
bilingual prostitution was a very real option
The advantage I had was that I didn't go to university because I didn't want the debt (of course, a different story if you study medicine or fine sciences where you need a diploma). The problem I imagine people have is this:
I study a language (or perhaps philosophy) – how am I ever going to make any money off this??
This is a pretty real worry, it used to scare me frankly as I imagined myself fighting back hoards of rapey hobos with nothing but witty Russian idioms.
fortunately, unlike Mike Tyson, most homeless aren't very good at fighting
But, people studying languages need to understand something important: if your goal is just making lots of money, you better get out of the language game and fast. Quit immediately and go study law or something with a bigger financial pay-off. Study the movie Wall street and try not to commit suicide when the market crashes.
So, does this mean you can’t make any money with you language diploma? Fuck no it doesn't but to be good enough, you have to want it badly enough. If you get a degree in Russian and you suck so bad that you can’t function semi-properly in Russian - your degree is worth squat.
I've met a lot of people that have language degrees, yet the average three year old Russian is Tolstoy compared to them.
If you end up the shitty language student, you will have wasted your time and you will have a load of debt.
If you do study a language or two, be the best you can at it and get the experience in your target country, don’t come out of it at the end getting a soul-ravishing job completely unrelated to what you spent years studying.
Say hello to office space
That might sound a bit cliché or soul crushing, but it’s not really. The real possibilities for earning start when you combine the language with something else. With just the linguistic side of things, you can be a translator or do another job solely related to the language, but that’s not for everyone (on the other hand, some people love translating full time).
The whole point of being alive, truly alive, is learning new things and building on your skills. The act of learning the language opens up new and unpredictable paths for you, if you get out there and start using it.
Coming to a new country, you start to adapt to new things and get new ideas – this might lead to a business, a whole new type of job or a smoking hot stripper-esque wife, all of which are good things.
For me, my knowledge of Russian makes my job about 1000 times easier, it makes my interpersonal relationships with other Russians 1000 times better and it makes living here 1000 times more manageable.
These variables aren't directly measurable in terms of cash, but having a ton of money isn't worth squat if you end up working like homer did in the Simpsons episode when he replaced Smithers as Mr. Burns's assistant..
Like most things in life, there are no fixed guarantees and your foreign language diploma won’t guarantee you anything either, but nothing does really. If you love what you are doing and learning, the chances are you will be successful at it, what form that success will take is a whole different story.
So, my advice to people studying languages at university or for passion would be this – fuck the internal voice that says you’ll end up living in a box at the train station, do it 100%, don’t suck at it then get out there and start exploring opportunities and looking for niches.
The more skills you develop, the more diversity you’ll have when it comes to finding work.
If all that fails, buy a nice cactus for your office cubicle or learn to fight and confuse potential homeless aggressors with witty bilingual phrases.