Believe in yourself: Interview with Anthony Lovell
Who were the most influential people in your life?
It is a question of stages of life. Obviously, my parents provided me with the base values. My father was a staunch Victorian; therefore, he would instil discipline and a stiff upper lip attitude. From my mother, we learned the lesson of fairness, through her experiences of boarding school which were not the most pleasant, she therefore passed on to us the importance of equality and fairness. In the military, discipline was certainly a part of it, we also learned loyalty and dependence on each other. My uncle, he gave me a good piece of advice: try to make your career your hobby. His hobby was aeroplanes, which he took on to be his career and he was literally paid to do his hobby; fixing aeroplanes around the world.
How come that a man from the UK ends up teaching translation and interpreting at ELTE FTT?
Originally it was a question of fate. I had been involved in a completely different trade: company imaging. Having waited almost a year and fulfilled every prerequisite from the Hungarian government, I was then refused a work permit, therefore I had to look in a different direction: I went to teaching.
Having started at secondary and primary schools, I went on to Hungarian universities to take a Hungarian teaching degree stipulated by the Hungarian government. I then went on to teach at language and private schools, the British Council and International House. I happened to be in Vienna one Friday afternoon and a friend of mine invited me to work at Morgan Stanley, then I was looking around and felt that translation and interpreting was an area that was still left to tick the box as it were.
What is your favourite activity at the university?
Experiencing the transition of students from day one to the final exam. The learning process, the basic combination of all the different teaching activities, the sheer work that is being put in from the students’ point of view and seeing that change is a pure pleasure.
Do you translate/interpret (regularly)?
I do interpreting when necessary, but mostly at an international school in England. Should the situation arise, I will then step in and interpret. The reason I am at ELTE is not to practice my Hungarian but to take the level of English, wherever it may be individually, to a higher level. That is what I feel my task is.
Beforehand I worked as a liaison officer at a hotel between the American guests and the staff, I was required to keep the guests happy, so any wish that they had, it was my job to pass it onto the staff and vice versa. I speak English and Hungarian, a certain degree of German and French from school. Initially, I never actually learned Hungarian. I spent 7 years in a village on the Great Plain, it was through immersion that I picked up the knowledge to start me off.
Do you feel stressed sometimes? How do you cope with that?
I do not stress over situations I have no control over, like bureaucracy. It is similar to a switch that I turn off, emotions like fear, anger, hate, we can turn them on, turn them off. After a while you learn when it is worth reacting to a certain situation and when it is not necessary to react. It makes stress management much easier.
What is it in Budapest or in Hungary that makes you stay here?
Initially the lifestyle, totally different than that in the UK. I like the working conditions, I like the fact that Budapest is very compact and in 15 minutes you can be in the hills. There are many beautiful places in the countryside to visit. Fortunately, I have seen a lot of them which was a real pleasure. I would say these are the main attractions for me. One main difference between Hungarians and UK people is that when Hungarians smile, you know it comes from their heart. In the UK it is more of a pleasantry.
What is it that you like to do in your free time?
I cycle. We cycle around lake Balaton many times a year. We go camping, I organise Bear Grylls-type weekends for CEOs and going to the Mátra. It is time spent in nature that I like to do privately. I try not to cycle in the town as I have been already knocked over at a pedestrian crossing, which was not too pleasant.
What are the three most important things/words of wisdom that you hold true in your life (based on experience)?
- Choose your friends and role models well.
- Work hard, play hard. Live life, do not exist. A lot of people just exist. I wish to come through this life at the end saying I did this, this and this, I experienced x,y,z.
- Decisions. Making decisions with your head, not your heart. But always consult your gut feeling before coming to a final decision.
Is there something you would like to say to the students(to-be)?
Believe. Believe in themselves. We can see it from the outside, the potential is there. It is obviously difficult to look inward, but, the belief is missing. Cut the apron strings, take a gap year, which is not favourable in Hungary, but I would advise to do so, widen your horizons. But again, the general impression is that belief is missing, so that would be the most important. That is a shame, these people at 18 are adults and they should be worthy of a lot more than what they actually believe for themselves to be possible.