Patricia Berger – There is Something About Airplanes (German, Hungarian, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew)

All Student Stories, Graduate Programs, Translation and Interpretation

Story taken from interview with Patricia, MA Translation & Interpretation, ’18; Written by K.Throgmorton

Patricia has always been a traveller. She is someone who loves arriving in a new place and rises to the challenges of being in a new place, surrounded by a different culture, and an unfamiliar language. Airplanes provide the mechanism to easily move across the globe and languages provide a new window to understanding each new place, its people, and its culture.

Learning languages is a way of learning how to communicate with people from different places and different cultures. Culture complements language and learning about each helps to understand new places, different perspectives, and alternative ways of living. She notices differences between the places she’s visited and lived, notably accented by the language and way people interact within a culture. Similarly, Patricia comments on feeling like she has distinct personalities in each language she speaks. She is adaptive and able to communicate easily with people, even when she does not have a high command of the language. More than feeling different when speaking, Patricia thrives on making connections with people.

When you speak the same language, or at least give it a try, it’s easy to connect. Patricia says that even if you’re afraid or feel unsure of yourself, you have to try. Force yourself into situations where you have to speak another language and see what happens. For Patricia, she has been able to make connections to people using only a few words. Take her experiences trying to interpret a complex story to her Italian host family – she had to help them understand what her German colleague was saying. 

Social pressure and the need to connect helped her work through the challenge and find the words she needed to convey meaning. She’s not finished learning new languages and hopes to pursue a meaningful career helping people make connections to one another after completing her education.

Her passion is language. Language and airplanes. Both are vehicles to broaden horizons, so to speak. When you can use language to speak with different people and travel to see a new place, you can learn more about the world around you. New ways of thinking and feeling come through the experiences of language learning and travel.  To foster empathy for other people, try to understand what they think and a bit about why they have arrived at such opinions. Language is a one way of doing this and hopping on an airplane is another.

Leave a Reply