As interpreters and translators, we are exposed to a variety of life situations. If you have been in this profession long enough, perhaps you have encountered specific cases in which you have felt extreme happiness and fulfillment about the job you do.
I certainly have. However, I am sure that you have also lived through other experiences that have shaken you to the core. Interpreting end-of-life discussions, interpreting or translating the reports of rape victims, and re-telling the stories of refugees can bring a heavy toll in your overall well-being. These situations can cause compassion fatigue or vicarious trauma.
If you have successfully been in this field for a long time, you have probably found a way to cope with the idiosyncrasies of our profession. For me, traveling has been a coping mechanism, even therapeutic. I have been lucky enough to experience wonderful benefits in my health since I started traveling. This has also translated into an improvement of my interpreter skills and the ability to celebrate even my smallest achievements at work.
Here are three of those benefits.
I made this the first one, for obvious reasons. Perhaps because it can be achieved by lying down on a beach with white sand and blue water, or sitting the middle of the mountains contemplating some of the snow-caps and doing nothing more than clearing your mind while you admire such a wonderful view. But it goes beyond that. When we are home, we can deal with many situations easily because we are familiar with our surroundings. When you travel, you are forced to deal with other situations without that sense of comfort and familiarity around you. For some, this could be stressful and even counter-productive, but the problem-solving skills that we are learning through this experience are far more important. Looking back at most of the stressful situations I have encountered while traveling, they were insignificant when seen from the big-picture perspective. The joy of being out there was greater than any obstacle along the road. I realized that re-connecting with the different wonders that nature has to offer is practical tool to deal with stress. When you are back home and you are facing tough situations again, re-living those unexpected adventures and your travel experiences will bring forward the skills you have learned and will help you channel out most of the stress.
There are those who travel to indulge in the expensive luxuries that are long desired by many and then there are those who travel to experience a true cultural exchange that provides a different kind of luxury. While visiting different countries, I find an indescribable amount of pleasure in simple interactions with locals and with fellow travelers. To me, the luxury of traveling stopped being about the expensive hotels and items for purchase, and instead became about submerging into the rich
culture that every country and every person you encounter has to offer. Experiencing these cultural differences is the best way to see and understand that most people around the world, regardless of where they are from, are good-hearted individuals willing to share fulfilling moments with you. This will broaden your perspective of the world, and life itself, and help you live happier.
In the book “Moonwalking with Einstein” the author states that “Monotony collapses time [and] novelty unfolds it.” He then goes to say that “If you spend your life sitting in a cubicle… one day is bound to blend unmemorably into the next – and disappear.” One of the best ways to create lasting memories is to travel to a new place, and if possible, a new country with a very different culture and language. The creation of these memorable episodes will expand your perception of time and you will realize
first hand that our memory can improve if we follow some specific techniques. Today, you may have a hard time remembering some details of what you did yesterday during your routine work day, but it will be harder for you to forget simpler details about any of your trips. Re-creating memorable experiences and associating new information to older memories are some of the techniques I use daily when I interpret. The ability to expand my memory has had a powerful and positive impact in some aspects of my personal and professional life.