An Unplugged Translator in Turkey
*This post was published for the first time a few years ago as a guest post in a colleague’s blog.
Taking a break from the digital world
I did it! I managed to disconnect myself completely from the Internet! While on a 3-day weekend cruise from Athens to Istanbul (photos) and İzmir (photos) in Turkey, I found myself without an Internet connection. The cruise ship did have a WiFi hotspot but the rates were too expensive (€15/hour). I used the WiFi on Friday evening to check my work emails and reply to Twitter mentions and thank friends for retweets but that was about it. After that, I was offline until Sunday morning. That’s a whopping 36 hours! I honestly can’t remember the last time I was disconnected from the web for so long. Even before I started using Twitter, I was an email junkie. Not a day went by without my checking and replying to emails, regardless of weekends, holidays, special occasions or traveling. I even checked my emails and worked a bit during my honeymoon!
The world without Internet
You’d think I would have felt some withdrawal but I had an amazing day. I didn’t miss checking my emails or tweeting. Instead, I met up with friends and had fun. Despite being shy when meeting existing clients, I’ve managed to make very good friends with some of the project managers I’ve worked with and my translator husband and I spent Saturday with them.
We walked around the beautiful city of Istanbul, had breakfast, beers and coffee in the space of 6 hours, along with awesome conversation about the translation industry, our common Twitter acquaintances (yes, you might be one of the people we gossiped about, hehe) and brainstormed ideas for each of our businesses. As much fun as all that was, my coup d’état was in the evening though, after the ship left Istanbul. I managed to indulge my love for reading for three whole hours! Reading that wasn’t translation-related. To be able to read for pleasure and for more than a few minutes was complete and utter bliss.
Not once did I miss my lack of connectivity that day. I didn’t feel the urge to check my email or see what my friends were up to on Twitter. I focused on the conversations I had and managed to relax and take in the city sounds & smells (mostly the sea & the kebabs Turkey is famous for). On an average workday, I continuously multitask. Sometimes it feels like the only time I stop is when I’m sleeping.
Being able to do one thing for more than 20-30 minutes felt great! Don’t get me wrong, I still love Twitter and I’d need at least 3 times the hours I now need daily if I didn’t multitask, but it was a nice change. And although, I still haven’t figured out the right way to keep my weekends work-free, maybe I’ll start with unplugging my WiFi router once a week (no promises though ).
The language connection
Everywhere I travel, I make it a point to notice the language – an occupational habit that comes from being a professional translator and editor. From my limited travel experience in a few Turkish cities, I have a few language and culture-related observations to make. The first thing I noticed about Turkish people was their hospitality, very similar to that of Greeks. They’re also extremely friendly and go out of their way to express themselves by using body language when they can’t speak any other language except their own. You can easily find English-speakers in the big cities and many people know a few Greek words. We are neighbors after all, although Greeks don’t really know any Turkish, except from some common words in both languages.
I don’t have any translation blunders to share this time, because I was too busy having fun to notice stuff like that, plus my eyes were hurting too much from all the spelling mistakes in our daily cruise printed schedules. We’ve complained about those in our customer satisfaction forms several times, to no avail. I’ll make sure to jot them down during our next cruise so you can see what I mean.
My great weekend away from the Internet turned out to be a huge success. So much so, that I may consider another one soon! Have you ever tried unplugging from the digital world for a whole day or more? How did you spend your day? Was it as much fun as mine and, more importantly, are you willing to make that part of your weekly or monthly routine?