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Joanna Szymanska

Conference Interpreting
School year ISIT 2012
Country Belgium
 What did you study prior to starting ISIT?

I discovered the importance of cross-cultural communication during a semester abroad in Denmark while in high school. I learned French on my own throughout high school, then completed a three-year undergraduate degree in Applied French at the University of Silesia. That’s where I discovered conference interpreting and ISIT. I spent my summers in France as an au pair, which is a great way to immerse yourself in a culture. Then I spent a semester at the University of Orléans on an Erasmus exchange.

Why become an interpreter?

It is a job like no other: you have to enjoy mental effort, and you also have to be independent and disciplined. There are amazing opportunities to develop, and all within a multilingual environment. Interpreters often find themselves at the center of current events and they act as a living bridge  between different cultures. It is a high-risk occupation, but one that is hugely gratifying.


ISIT is the only school that allows students to customize their education by taking any possible language combination. And who has not dreamed of studying in Paris? Then there is the language component: living in France is the perfect opportunity to perfect your every-day French. Finally, there is ISIT’s prestigious international reputation.

After ISIT?

My native language is Polish, so I will most likely work for the European Union or in the private sector. I got my degree in 2012, and I was lucky enough to be invited to the accreditations test for European institutions in September. I am now living in Brussels and have been accredited by the European Union.

What advice do you have for future students?
  • Perfect your working languages, including your mother tongue.
  • Follow the news in all of your working languages. Read voraciously, make sure you keep up-to-date on current affairs, politics, and the economy.
  • Master non-verbal communication. You have to learn to be convincing and not reveal the stress that comes with being an interpreter.
Other than that, what are the essentials?

Motivation. That is what will keep you moving ahead when you doubt yourself. Language is closely tied to identity. The program can be very frustrating, so it is important to know why you enrolled on it. As you strive for perfection, you will experience a lot of self-doubt and you will have to find the strength to continue nonetheless.