Welcome to The Bicultural Podcast.
Today I am delighted to be joined by my friend, Beatrice Turner, an English and Spanish interpreter currently working in Chile. I actually met Bea when I was 16. When she came to the UK to do a year at Sixth form with us.
This episode will give insight into
- Beatrice’s story about being bicultural
- Differences between British and Chilean audiences
- Advantages of being bicultural
Hi Bea, how are you?
Beatrice Turner (00:46):
Hi, I’m very good thank you. Thank you for having me here. I’m very excited.
Janina Neumann (00:51):
I’m very excited to have you on my podcast. So would you like to introduce yourself?
Beatrice Turner (00:56):
Sure. So I am Beatrice Turner. I am a professional English/Spanish interpreter. I have worked as an interpreter, translator, tour guide, voiceover artist. And I am currently working as a domains and hosting account manager at an international domains and trademark company in Santiago, Chile, South America. And I consider myself bicultural because my mom is Chilean and my dad’s British. I have lived the majority of my life in Chile, but I did spend seven months living in the UK with my grandparents in Gloucestershire in the year 2011 when I was 17 years old. So I’m just going to say that in Spanish. Okay.
Beatrice Turner (01:40):
“Hola, soy Beatrice Turner. Yo soy Intérprete profesional Inglés- Español. He trabajado como intérprete, traductora, también como guía de turismo y haciendo doblajes al inglés. Actualmente estoy trabajando como Account Manager en el área de dominios y hosting en una empresa internacional ubicada en Santiago que trabaja con dominios y también con marcas registradas. Yo me considero una persona bicultural porque mi mamá es chilena y mi papá británico. He vivido la mayoría de mi vida en Chile pero sí viví siete meses en Inglaterra con mis abuelos en Gloucestershire en el año dos mil once cuando tenía diecisiete años”.
Janina Neumann (02:24):
So have you ever thought about when you became bicultural?
Beatrice Turner (02:32):
Yes. Well, I think I had been bicultural since childhood, because first of all, my dad always talked to us in English and, you know, Chile is a Spanish-speaking country, so apart from the language and vocabulary, there were certain elements from the British culture that surrounded me when I was a little girl. I remember listening to CDs with nursery rhymes that my dad brought us from the UK, along with some computer games. My absolute favourite ones were Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, and Zoombinies. Zoombinies was like the best video game ever. My sister and I were obsessed with that. We also had several VHS tapes that were in English. So most of the famous Disney songs that I know them in English, not in Spanish. And also my grandparents, they sent us lots of children’s books in English, and we had a big shelf with dozens of them. They also sent us Advent Calendars every year for Christmas, and it was part of our family tradition that does not exist here in Chile. So we were always very excited to receive this calendar, where we had to eat one chocolate a day until Christmas day. And one of the most different aspects of celebrating Christmas in this country is that everyone waits for Father Christmas at night, so the presents are actually opened at midnight. So how my dad somehow convinced my mom that we should follow the English tradition and open them in the morning, which makes far more sense, to be honest. So, I mean can you imagine just waiting for Father Christmas at 10:00 PM. I mean, how can he actually deliver all those presents, and just grab it. So thank you dad for preserving that tradition for us.
Beatrice Turner (04:24):
Well, also apart from my influence in Chile, I also had the chance to visit my grandparents in England several times. So I have so many memories spending time with them over there, visiting different places, such as castles. We didn’t have castles in Chile so they were quite a big thing for us, for me and my sister, going for walks in the Malvern Hills, we went to the Cotswolds, we visited my cousins, aunty and uncle in Hartford and Reading. And obviously that also includes eating different foods, living different traditions, such as books, things, for example, we didn’t have that here in Chile. And finally, when I was 17 years old, I went to live with my grandparents for seven months. So I went to Newent Community School, of course where I met you Janni, and I had the chance to actually live the culture in a different way. So I consider England to be a part of my identity, definitely. It is one of my favourite places in the world, and it is part of who I am.
Janina Neumann (05:29):
Oh, there’s so much I’d love to ask you about that. It’s really fascinating.
My first question is when did you become bilingual and how did you learn both languages?
Beatrice Turner (05:45):
Well, my dad always talked to us in English, so I think I learned English when I was like really, really young. So I definitely understood it. I remember being in England when I was like six years old maybe. And I still could not talk it, I didn’t speak it, but I did understand most of it. So I remember being with my granddad and my mum, I remember being on the back seat of the car, and they were speaking amongst them and then I just looked at my dad and I told him the answer of what they were asking me in Spanish. And they just looked at each other like, “What? Does she actually understand that?”, and my dad was like, “Yes, she does understand English. She just doesn’t know how to speak yet”. But yeah, I mean, I did understand it quite a lot, but school, I think, was very important to me as well, so in school, I learned how to write it, obviously reads it. But yeah, I mean, I was, you know, I was lucky enough to be in a good school in Chile, which was in Puerto Montt, a southern city of Chile where I was born, and I had a chance to go to this really good school, and they taught English very well. So I think both education and my dad allowed me to know my English since I was very, very young. So I think I have been bilingual, maybe most of my life really, thinking like that.
Janina Neumann (07:25):
That sounds so interesting, and I can definitely relate to other examples where I understand what they’re talking about, but just can’t find the words to answer them.
Beatrice Turner (07:35):
Janina Neumann (07:35):
That’s really interesting.
Janina Neumann (07:38):
So tell us a little bit more about, in what language do you think, and one of the questions I always get asked, like what language do you dream in?
Beatrice Turner (07:50):
Okay. I think that definitely is influenced on where I am at the moment. So since I have lived the majority of my life here in Chile, I think in Spanish and I dream in Spanish if I told you my dreams. But when I was in England, I remember thinking in English, when I spent like several months. At first, I was thinking in English, I was like, no, I should think in Spanish. I mean, why was I thinking in English? And then I just don’t use it. And I’ll also tend to mix both of the languages as well. But I think it just really depends on how much time you spend on it rather than in England or in Chile. So in this case, I’m just thinking in Spanish.
Janina Neumann (08:37):
I can definitely relate to that. I think when I spend a lot of time with my parents, I do tend to think in German. And when I spend time with my friends or my boyfriend, I do think in English and funnily enough, for me, when I dream, I seem to have noticed, if there’s someone that speaks English, then I will go and speak English to them in my dream. And if there’s someone who’s German, I will go and speak German to them, because obviously they can’t understand the other language. It’s really interesting how your body just adapts and your thinking adapts, according to your environment. So, are there any idioms that you can’t translate into English or vice versa?
Beatrice Turner (09:24):
Yes. So I’m thinking about a very local idiom. It’s not really formal, but I think it’s a good example. So it is an idiom that in Spanish, it is “Echar la foca”. If you literally translate it to English, it means like ‘throwing the seal’. The seal like the animal. So it doesn’t make any sense, but in Spanish or at least in Chile, in Chile really, it means when you are like mad at someone, and you yell at them. So you’re like, “Oh yeah, he’s throwing the seal at you”. You know, it is quite funny. So in Chile, we tend to use lots of animals. So it’s quite funny. So for example, when you eat too much, you are like a pig, “You are a chancho, don’t be such a chancho”. It does have lots of idioms with animals.
Janina Neumann (10:24):
That’s really interesting.
So have you noticed how British people interact and Chilean people interact, and have you noticed any differences?
Beatrice Turner (10:34):
Yes, definitely. There are certainly differences between talking to people from the UK or Chile, in my case. So first of all, here in Chile, we kiss people on the cheek when we first meet them. We are also very loud. I would say we’re more passionate about things and also our sense of humour. It’s completely different. So I can see that our humour to be more cheeky in a way if that makes sense.
Janina Neumann (11:03):
Beatrice Turner (11:03):
But on the other hand, English culture is much colder in a way, so people are not that affectionate, unlike Chile. So when you approach someone, you know, but you’re not close to you, you just say ‘hi’ from a distance. If it is a friend, you lightly hug them. In Chile, we kiss on the cheek, even to strangers. So I would say that we’re also more honest when it comes to giving our opinion in some conversations, I think British people are perhaps too polite in that sense.
Janina Neumann (11:34):
That’s really interesting. And just from my interactions with more middle Eastern people, I’ve noticed that sometimes there’s a difference with someone being very polite, but they might not tell you the truth. And they’re obviously very relationship orientated like they want to form a good relationship with you first before they perhaps do a business deal with them. So it’s really interesting actually that Chilean people are very warm and very polite, but actually also tell you, kind of, their opinions quite honestly. That’s really interesting.
Beatrice Turner (12:10):
Yeah. I think we’re more straightforward. Yeah, definitely.
Janina Neumann (12:14):
That’s really interesting.
So tell us a bit about why you chose to spend some time here when you were 17.
Beatrice Turner (12:24):
Well, I always loved England, like since I was like very young, you know, the influence I had particularly, I just loved England in general. So all the times that I was with my grandparents, all the traditions, all the food, everything, I just loved it all. So, my parents like gave me this idea of going to spend time there with my grandparents. So it was, I think it was the right timing as well because it wasn’t on the first semester of my last high school year here in Chile. So I didn’t quite miss like much school education because, in Chile’s last year, you just prepare yourself for this last exam. So yeah. So here in Chile, you just prepare in the last high school year for the final exam. So I could just spend one of those two semesters abroad.
Beatrice Turner (13:20):
And then when I was in the UK, I was in the last semester of, I think it was year 12, right?
Janina Neumann (13:28):
Beatrice Turner (13:30):
Yeah. Year 12. Yeah. So I wasn’t like in the same school year as I was in Chile. But I think in a sense it was better because I got to really get to know like the education in that level, which was much more deeper in a way, because, in year 13, you only focus on A-levels. Right? So when I was there in like AS levels, but you also had like more flexibility in learning other subjects. So that was much more enriching for me.
Janina Neumann (14:05):
Yes, I can totally relate to that.
So when you first arrived in Newent, did you notice any differences there?
Beatrice Turner (14:15):
Yeah, definitely. So regarding like the school for example, so schools in Chile are good only if you can afford private education, so in the case of Newent, Newent was a public school. So I was amazed about all the technology that they had all the, you know, the things were all new, the place was very big, very spacious and everything was just so tidy, and that only happens in private schools in Chile. So I remember that there, I think I didn’t really pay anything for school. I’m not sure if I would have remembered that, but public education there is like almost free, and it is such a good quality. I mean, you can’t really compare it with public education here in Chile. So if you can’t afford private education here, you just, unfortunately, you won’t have like the best education and you also won’t have the same professional opportunities afterwards. So it is quite, quite different.
Janina Neumann (15:25):
That’s really interesting to hear. So what advantages do you think the trip to the UK has given you, but also how has biculturalism given you an insight into other cultures?
Beatrice Turner (15:41):
Yeah, so I think it has definitely given me a wider perspective and view of the world. So things are different in other parts of the world, and our reality here, in Chile, is not the only one I know of. And obviously I prefer certain aspects of both cultures. So, as I was talking about education, it’s just so, so different that we have here in Chile. I think here in Chile, for example, another difference, regarding education, is that for example, in high school, there in the UK, you have to choose three or four subjects that you are going to be focused on. And then that’s it. I mean, you don’t have any more subjects other than that. Unlike here in Chile, here we have to take every subject. So every everyone has to take like 11 or 13 compulsory subjects until the last year of high school. And also the final exam to enter university, it is standardised one. So we have the same test for everyone in Chile, which is nonsense. I think that Chile has a lot to learn from British education in that sense. I mean, I got to see this different perspective, you know, on this, such important topic, like education.
Beatrice Turner (17:03):
Well, apart from that I also got to speak to people of definitely another culture. I mean, as I was saying, it is different to engage with people that do not have the same background as you. So for example, I’m just thinking about my first day at Newent. It was quite funny because, as I told you before, in Chile we kiss people on the cheek when we first meet them. So I remember when I got to Newent, it was the first day of school and I went say ‘hi’ to some students that I had already known the year before because they had been in Chile on a school trip. So I went to greet them and as we do in Chile, I kiss them on the cheeks with a loud noise, and I immediately regretted it because I felt like the awkwardness in the air. So for us, it is natural to kiss someone on the cheek, but in England that is not the case. So I had to learn it the hard way. They just expected to say ‘hi’ from like one meter away from the other person, maybe shake your hand, and that’s it.
Janina Neumann (18:15):
So, the experience of being able to greet people differently, do you think it has given you other toolkits on how to form relationships with someone?
Beatrice Turner (18:28):
Yeah, definitely. Yeah. I mean, I know that here in Chile and Latin America, it’s just, it is very, very different. So if I know someone, if I get to meet someone that is from Europe, but not from Chile, South America, I just, obviously I don’t give them the cheek. You know, I try to think about their culture, “How do they meet?”, which is obviously very important to them. I mean, think about, I don’t know, like Asian culture or, you know, Eastern cultures is so, so different. So you have to think about that before meeting someone because if you don’t really experience this, you don’t know the difference, you don’t know that it’s not okay to do that or to do certain things.
Janina Neumann (19:10):
So do you think all these experiences helped you shape your career as an English/Spanish interpreter?
Beatrice Turner (19:21):
Yeah, definitely. I remember that there was a subject related to all different cultures in the world and how you should approach them. So, yeah, I mean in the programme that I started, it is important to know obviously where the person is from. You have to know their background as you know, how do they behave in certain situations? So it is very important to know that, and I think I had a chance to actually experienced that beforehand, which was quite interesting, so I knew before I actually went to university. So it was quite interesting and it is important to know that, especially in the programme. So if you’re an interpreter, you have to know the cultural background of the person that you are interpreting, you know?
Janina Neumann (20:11):
Yeah, that’s really interesting.
So tell us a bit more about some of the things that you’ve done as an interpreter.
Beatrice Turner (20:19):
So yeah, I have worked in, at first I worked at a congress. It was like an automotive congress. There were several companies that came from India and they were trying to sell car parts to companies in Chile. So they had this congress, really big congress in Santiago. They hired me to be one of their interpreters, but in that case, it was consecutive interpreting. So that is when one person speaks, and then you take notes and then you speak to the other person in the other language, but you have like this amount of time where you can write, and then think about what you can say. So it was my first experience as an interpreter and it was amazing. I really, really loved the experience, just being the bridge of two different languages and cultures for me it was amazing. I really, really loved it. And also I have worked as a simultaneous interpreter. So one, it was, I think it was 2018. Yeah. There was this French artist that came to Santiago for an art exhibition and they needed an English interpreter. So all these journalists were asking him questions live, not recording, and I had to be there like with my notepad, but also speaking to him like, “They’re asking you this, and you need to answer these questions”.
Janina Neumann (21:54):
Beatrice Turner (21:54):
So it was a fun experience as well. It was more challenging than the other one, but it was fun anyway.
Janina Neumann (22:02):
It’s really interesting to listen to your stories working as an interpreter.
So I wonder, have you got any examples of cultural barriers being present in a situation?
Beatrice Turner (22:15):
Yes, definitely. So cultural barriers may reside even in the same language, so one word might not have the same meaning or a meaning in another Spanish-speaking country. So we do have different accents, vocabulary, and pronunciation. So I’m going to tell you a little anecdote. This was November 2018. I was traveling with my boyfriend for most five months across the world. We were at that time in Rome, Italy, and we got to meet three Spanish girls, at our hostel. They were very, very nice, and we decided to visit the Colosseum the next day together. While we were in these massive queue, we were discussing what other famous spots we should go and visit afterwards. So one of them said that we should go see the statue of the wolf that is feeding Romulus and Remus. We all agreed, and she repeats, “Okay, we should go for, go look for the wolf in the square then”.
Beatrice Turner (23:16):
And then Nacho, my boyfriend, he answered, “Sí sé po”. Now, “sí sé” means “I know” in Spanish, but “po” is a Chilean expression so it is only used in Chile to make the statement more evident. So this girl, this Spanish girl, just looks at us, clearly not understanding what we were saying, just shaking her head. There was this awkward silence for like four seconds. And she says, “No, the wolf”, and Nacho answers “Sí sé po”. She asks “‘Sí sé po’ is the name of the wolf?” And Nacho and I looked at each other and we just cannot stop laughing. We’re like, “No, ‘sí sé'”, she says, “What do you know?”. So it all becomes so confusing and we laugh for about five minutes and just, you just cannot even imagine the noise of Chilean and Spanish people laughing together. I know the German couple behind us in the queue, looking at us with annoyance and judging us. It was just such a funny moment.
Janina Neumann (24:18):
That does sound funny. Oh, well I think a lot of people don’t understand just how the, you know, the Spanish can be quite different according to which country you speak it in. I mean, I sometimes speak to people who, you know, who start off saying, you know, Google translate will be fine. And then other people say, well, I have one Spanish translation so I can apply it to everywhere. And then even like certain words don’t make sense. And also in this scenario, you know, if that was a tour guide, you know, if someone said it like that, they would be really confused. So that’s really interesting.
Beatrice Turner (25:00):
Yeah. So, you know, I actually heard one of your past podcasts where you interviewed Eva Túnez, I think it was? Yeah. So she’s Spanish right? And she was speaking about these Spanish idioms, where you ask her about that.
Janina Neumann (25:19):
Beatrice Turner (25:19):
And I honestly didn’t know any of them. It was so funny. Like what does that even mean? Like there has to be a Chilean version of that, and I think it was really interesting to be honest.
Janina Neumann (25:26):
That’s really interesting to hear because I think people use idioms to bond with people, you know, to have a closer connection to them.
So when you use an idiom and the other person doesn’t understand, you know, or takes it the wrong way or starts to translate it literally, you know, you could really offend people.
Beatrice Turner (25:46):
Yeah, it wouldn’t make any sense.
Janina Neumann (25:48):
So what are the differences between the Chilean culture and the British culture?
Beatrice Turner (25:56):
Yeah. Okay. So for example, on a day-to-day scenario, in England they have different meals than us. So for lunch, they tend to have sandwiches or a quick salads, maybe some fruits and that’s it. So then people go back home from work and they usually have tea, which is about six or seven o’clock in the afternoon. Now, this is the most important meal of the day. They have a big dish with meat, mashed potatoes, pasta, et cetera.
Beatrice Turner (26:24):
So here in Chile, we have that same meal, but we have it at lunchtime. So for us, lunch is the biggest meal of the day. So at tea, we have something called ‘Once’, which literally translates to ’11’. So here we have ’11’ at tea. So we have food such as breads, pastries, coffee, tea. So this is like a very famous Chilean thing. You need to have ‘Once’ here in Chile, and you need to have type of bread that is called ‘Hallullas’ or ‘Pan Batido’, that’s very, very famous here as well. But talking about culture in general, each of them has pros and cons, but I would say that English culture is much colder. They’re not very affectionate, unlike Chile. However, on the dark side of our culture, here we tend to have this way of thinking, where we try to outsmart the person next to us. So if we can do the same thing, having the same outcome, but in a different way, we will do it. So we will find the effortless option, even if it means bypassing others. I think English culture is much more polite, they respect order and they have better manners in general.
Janina Neumann (27:45):
That’s really interesting because I can imagine, for example, in an engineering environment, they might actually like it if you find a quicker way of doing things because you increase efficiency, but then also if you work in a team and you perhaps don’t talk to the other team about your findings, and I can imagine that there’s some tension between the teams.
Beatrice Turner (28:08):
Exactly. Like, people tend to be more sneaky if that makes sense? So, I mean it in a more negative way.
Janina Neumann (28:17):
That’s really interesting.
So who do Chilean people feel accountable to? Do they feel accountable to themselves or to their family or the culture? How do they decide whether to take an action or not?
Beatrice Turner (28:32):
Well, I think that everyone just blames the other person, really. Chileans don’t actually think about what they did wrong. They always blame the other person about what they did. So for example, in the case, when a guy goes in a bus and doesn’t pay for the bus ticket, he thinks, “You know, these companies are all robbing us anyway. So it is okay not to pay for the bus tickets”. They always blame the companies, the government, the politicians, or just people in general, but never ourselves. So that is what we do here in Chile.
Janina Neumann (29:06):
Definitely interesting to hear about that.
So tell us a little bit more about how family plays a role in Chilean life.
Beatrice Turner (29:15):
I think family is definitely important here in Chile. So for example, in the UK, when you turn 18 and you go to college or university, you may choose one that they several hours or several miles away from home. Here in Chile, that is not the case. People usually stay with their parents until they finish university or even longer than that. So they might even have a job and keep living with the parents. Also, it needs to be considered that universities here are very centralised. We only have maybe four different cities that have the most important and best universities. Chile is a very centralised country, so the majority of the population lives in those cities. So there is really no need for people to become independent, you know.
Janina Neumann (30:07):
That’s really interesting and that’s a real difference to how people are in the UK. Like you said there, the universities are quite spread out, and people don’t mind traveling back to their families every so often. So that’s really interesting.
So, do you think it actually gives people a bit more strength knowing that their family’s there to support them?
Beatrice Turner (30:38):
Yeah, I would say so, definitely. I mean, there are lots of cases that students go into these certain programmes at university, and they don’t do well, so they fail at some subjects, they have to cancel this programme. So I really like the comfort of just thinking that your family is there, you know, to support you, that you are living with them, you don’t have like this pressure to do well all time. So I think it is definitely something, yeah.
Janina Neumann (31:08):
That’s really important, especially when you’re in your twenties or in your teenage years when you’re actually still building who you are. And it’s definitely important to feel like that you have someone there to support you, especially in tough times.
Janina Neumann (31:25):
Bea, it’s been fantastic talking to you.
So if people would like to connect with you or work with you, how can they do that?
Beatrice Turner (31:37):
Well, I have a LinkedIn account, so you can link with me there. I am Beatrice Turner Narvarte, which is my second last name. So yeah, I’m based in Chile, so maybe you can find me there.
Janina Neumann (31:52):
Fantastic, and what kind of work could you do for people?
Beatrice Turner (31:58):
Well, I sometimes do some translation freelance work. So if you need maybe need translating a document that is aimed to South American public, for example, a Chilean public, you should definitely reach out to me.
Janina Neumann (32:15):
Fantastic. I’m sure a lot of people will do, and it’s been so great to talk to you. And who knew that we’d have this podcast, you know, 10 years on from my first meeting.
Beatrice Turner (32:28):
I know, it’s crazy, but yeah, it has been great. Thank you so much for having me.
Janina Neumann (32:33):
It’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you, Bea.
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