The Heat is On

How can you tell it’s final exam season? Nerves are on edge, tensions are running high, and the university libraries are packed with students busy with last-minute cramming. My own students on the MIC will be taking their finals in about a week. This is a good thing: they’ve worked hard over the year, and it’s time they had a chance to show off everything they’ve learned.

It’s hard to know what sort of advice to give to interpreting students who are about to go into their exams. They’ve heard all the tips at least a thousand times already in class, and saying it once more isn’t going to help them at this point: either they’ve internalized the message or they haven’t. Over the past few days, my main message to students has been that it’s time for them to stop worrying so much about the length of their décalage or the breadth of their terminological knowledge and start thinking about getting into the right mindset for their exams.

This means what? Well, among other things, it means getting enough sleep, eating well, and taking regular breaks, in order to let what they’ve learned sink in. One fellow instructor told me I should order them to go to the beach! Not a bad idea …

Did I mention we had a heat wave last week?
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you happen to be preparing for your own final interpreting exams these days, then you probably already know that, in addition to the sage advice offered above, exam preparation also means thinking about such issues as stress management (which I featured in a blog post a few months back), channelling your nerves (the topic of this video interview with interpreter trainer Helen Campbell) and engaging in some positive thinking. However, it does NOT mean making radical changes to your lifestyle or consumption habits.

I mean it: now is not the time to start experimenting with memory-enhancing herbal preparations, energy drinks or the like. If you haven’t been a regular drinker of Red Bull, popper of brain booster pills or consumer of Rescue Remedy in the past, the day of your final interpreting exam is NOT the time to start playing with these things. Likewise, if you are having a hard time falling asleep the night before the big test, do NOT decide to borrow one of your roommate’s sleeping pills, no matter how badly you need to get some shut-eye.

There’s a simple reason for this: you don’t know how you will react, and the last thing you want is to experience an adverse effect (lack of concentration, upset stomach, trembling hands, double vision) during your exam. Even having one or two more coffees than usual might put you off kilter. At this point, it’s best to just stick with what you know.

But how will I stand the heat?

If you’re feeling the pressure of trying to get through the exams and wondering how you are ever going to survive the stress of the working interpreter’s lifestyle, don’t lose heart. Instead, I urge you to check out the following resource by the National Network for Interpreting. It’s entitled “Stamina”, and when I first saw the title, I thought it would contain advice along the lines of “practice all alone in the booth for hours on end, then half-hour turns will seem a cinch in comparison”. Of course, it doesn’t. Instead, the NNI offers some sensible advice about eating right, staying fit, and basically just taking care of yourself over the long term. Wise words. After all, we all want to lead healthy, happy lives as interpreters, not burn out under all the constant heat, right?

Stamina, by the National Network for Interpreting

The ULL’s Interpreter Training Courses on the Social Media

Many of you will have noticed by now that the Master’s in Conference Interpreting (MIC) where I teach recently joined the social media. They’ve created a Facebook page, where they share photos and videos of what’s happening on the course, as well as useful links for aspiring interpreters. They’re also on Twitter at @MIC_ULL. And for those of you who have already made the leap over to Google+, you’ll find them there too, at the MIC ULL page.

So if you’re studying conference interpreting or thinking you might like to do so at some point, why not like, follow or circle the people at the MIC? I’m sure you won’t regret it!

If you’d like to know more about what we do down here at the University of La Laguna, then check out this video in Spanish by Carmen, a fellow instructor on the course. Or you can watch this video I recorded recently:

I’m told plans are afoot at the MIC to launch a blog and Youtube channel as well, so please watch this space (and the MIC pages I’ve given you above) for more news on that.

But that’s not all …

The MIC has a sister program, the EUTISC, that trains community interpreters. I’m pleased to announce that the Experto Universitario en Traducción y Interpretación para los Servicios Comunitarios has also jumped on the social media bandwagon. You’ll find the EUTISC on Twitter at @EUTISC. They’ve also created a Facebook page where they share resources for healthcare, legal and community interpreters as well as news on training.

To hear more about the EUTISC and the work of community interpreters or language mediators, watch the video by Marlene, the course coordinator:

To conclude, let me just say that if any of this has piqued your interest and you think you’d like to apply to either of these courses, applications and inquiries are now being taken for the 2012-2013 academic year.

See you in La Laguna!

My Roman Holiday

Many readers will know that I have just come back from a whirlwind trip to Rome. I went there to attend a Training for Trainers seminar on “Research Results and Implications for Interpreter Training”. It was a two-day event organized by AIIC Training and given on this occasion by one of the leading lights in interpreting studies, Daniel Gile. Doesn’t sound like much of a holiday, you say?

Well, consider this: I managed to time my visit to coincide with the biggest blizzard the city has seen in decades, which blanketed the Italian capital’s seven hills with snow, made taxicabs scarce and metro queues endless, led to hot water shortages and flickering lights at my hotel, and covered the Roman cobblestones with treacherous ice. Add to that the fact that I was only there for about 36 hours, most of which I spent cooped up in a windowless room with no view of the Pantheon, the Colosseum, or anything else remotely Roman for that matter, and you may seriously start to wonder why I am calling this post “My Roman Holiday” and not “My Roman Ordeal” (hint: it’s not to compare myself to Audrey Hepburn).

It’s quite simple, really. For me, the trip was a wonderful experience. Firstly, it was only the second time in the seven years since my first child was born that I have “treated myself” to some time away from home for professional development purposes (not purely business travel).

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