10 things to know if your date/partner/spouse is an interpreter

by an interpreter married to an interpreter (the one in booth n. 4 on your left)

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  1. The toothpaste rule

You’ll need two separate toothpaste tubes… to avoid quarrelling over who gets to keep the toothpaste: the one who leaves or the one who stays?

  1. Netflix/film/tv show night

Be prepared for endless comments about how crappy the subtitles are. And for compromises: at one point we have ended up watching a series in Swedish with Croatian subtitles.

  1. News talk

Accept that the conversation will mainly revolve around the news from the weirdest countries in the world (in our case, covering the whole spectrum of our combined languages: all the Nordic countries, the UK, the US, a good part of South America, Spain, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Croatia, Slovakia and of course Italy, inter alia)

  1. Lists of words everywhere

Don’t throw away that scrap of paper! And no, it doesn’t matter that it is the back of a receipt from the supermarket. We jot down notes on virtually anything, and we need those for our meeting.

  1. Whining

Our job is unpredictable, and tiring, and frustrating. With the notable exception of my husband, we as a bunch kind of like to complain. Don’t try to stop us. At one point we will get tired of all the whining and change subject.

  1. Suitcases

We come and we go. Do not expect us to unpack the moment we get home. After all, we’ll probably be leaving so soon that we don’t even need to unpack half the suitcase.

  1. Outlets

After spending our days like fish in an acquarium, we need outlets. Plenty of interpreters take up meditation, yoga, or pilates. We clearly need something more intense and like to sweat the stress out. Together my husband and I run 150 to 200 kilometres per week. Support your significant other and do not try to talk them out of exercising…

  1. Wandering eye

Although neither of us has it, we have noticed an impressive rate of wandering eyes among interpreters. I believe it is due to the act of listening and speaking at the same time, hence reflecting the split occurring in the brain.

  1. Forgetting things

We need to store an unconceivable amount of information in our brains in a very short amount of time. In order to keep functional, we also need to delete it as soon as possible. But together with all the names of chemicals, Syrian activists, scary diseases, gardening tools, pig breeds, varieties of aromatic plants, and god knows what, we forget birthdays and dates and names too. Be kind.

  1. Tip-top shape

Most of the interpreters I know are super fit. My theory is that we cannot afford to take up too much space in our tiny tiny booths…

In a nutcase: we have some weird traits, but we are also fit, super smart and usually dedicated, as it takes a lot of hard work to become (and stay!) an interpreter. In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen… marry an interpreter.

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Leaving on a (jet) plane… ✈️

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My last flight for the next couple of weeks is finally over, and I can’t wait to get home. But you can either succumb to the umptieth-early-flight stress, or let yourself be surprised by the sun rising over the mountains covered in snow. Couldn’t help but feel a tiny bit closer to my husband who is the only one who truly managed to show me how to see the beauty in nature.

Work work work… and friendships, and love

SnapseedWhat a week! I worked non-stop from Monday to Saturday. Three different meetings in three days for the EU, and one more three-day meeting on the private market, this time in Montreux, Switzerland. I was not 100% sure I would be able to come out alive, but here I am to tell the tale! More than anything, this post is meant to celebrate friendship.

I was lucky enough to work with a wonderful friend who went to university in Geneva with me and with whom everything became easy, even working for a full day with an early start (7 AM!) after sleeping for no more than 3 hours. Giulia and I even managed to go for a run later that day and explore the beautiful lake-side at sunset. As always, we were two little chatterboxes! We had to catch up on so many things, even though we regularly talk to each other on Skype. We took our run easy enough to make sure we were able to talk non-stop all the way through our 9 kilometres… To be honest, I was happy we only ran around the lake, as it is the only flat part of Montreux (otherwise famous for a trail running festival… But as you might or might not know, uphill running is not my cup of tea).

When we went to university, all our teachers would tell us not many of us would end up working as interpreters. We know the Italian booth is particularly competitive and we were discouraged from the very beginning by everyone around us. And that only makes it so much more special, to get to work together and do our dream job. Getting to work together at a conference was our little victory over those doubters.

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We were joined by four young interpreters for the French and German booths: it was a pleasure to meet three new colleagues and to catch up with another former student of Geneva University. I had forgotten how expensive Switzerland can be, and it was a bit of a shock, but all in all Montreux treated us very well and provided me with some much needed peace with its placid lake surrounded by beautiful mountains.

It is now time to go back to Brussels – but just for little more than 24 hours, as Francesco and I are headed to Strasbourg for the plenary session of the European Parliament on Monday. Will try and catch up on sleep on the train(s) and plane(s)!