I lived for extended periods in Egypt, Morocco, Scotland, England and the Netherlands. It’d make sense that wherever I resided, I spoke the dominant local languages. Sometimes, it’s not the case!

When I lived in London, I was speaking more Arabic than English because my job involved full-time Arabic translation, 50% of my colleagues and friends were Arabs, and we organised events for Arab companies in London and in the Arab world. Now, that I’m living in the Netherlands, I speak more English than Dutch because I teach in English and most of the Dutch like to practice their English.

As the old saying goes, use it or lose it. Evidence proves that people are subject to language attrition even in their native language. I conducted research in a PhD program about that. On daily basis, I read books, listen to the radio, watch TV, talk to people in both Arabic and English and use this language combination for my work. But there’s no better way to keep both my source and target languages optimised than being immersed in the language environment. So, I spend a few months of the year traveling and working remotely. (except during Covid-19 pandemic)

I’m lucky I’ve family and friends in Dubai, Cairo, Casablanca, London, and Edinburgh. I use travel to attend events and network with potential clients to grow my business as well. At the same time, I learn from other translators working with similar language combinations.

One of my hobbies is reading; travel to the Arab world allows me to spend hours in bookshops and buy Arabic books that are not available in e-versions or cannot be delivered to Europe.

Travel is also gratifying in terms of being exposed to the culture and attending cultural events. And even if you travel with a purpose, it remains the most enjoyable hobby for many of us!