Language barrier? Music is the answer
‘Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent’ – Victor Hugo
There is certainly no denying that, while a holiday or trip to another country leaves you with a sense of longing and excitement, moving to another country is something entirely different. Speaking from experience, one of the most worrying questions that plays on everyone’s mind is always: how will I make friends?! What’s more is that this concept of ‘making friends’ becomes even more daunting when a foreign language is thrown into the mix. What if people think you’re boring because you can’t contribute to the conversation? What if your jokes don’t translate very well and your sense of humour is non-existent? What if you make a horrific grammatical mistake that terribly offends somebody?
The answer: music.
It is a long-known fact that music creates bonds. For good reason, many people have fallen in love or established lifelong friendships based on a mutual appreciation for a band or genre. One of the many benefits of our globalised society is the overlap in music tastes that exist across cultures: chart music, especially within Europe, is often the same (N.B.: unsurprisingly, everybody in the world loves Ed Sheeran). No matter who you are, or where you come from, everyone listens to music in some way.
So: you’ve met people, you’re making friends, but you’ve only just overcome the ‘small talk’ stages of these friendships. The next bit can sometimes be tricky. But, I always find, as soon as someone breaks the ice with the age-old ‘what type of music do you listen to?’ the language barriers seem to fall away. Music is something that everyone can speak passionately about. It is also something where differing opinions create interest, not conflict.
‘Oh, you’ve never heard of *insert indie band name here*? Here, listen to this song, you’ll love it.’
Music is one of the most important forms of self-expression and individuality, but, above all, it is a means of communication. Let’s also not forget that glowing sense of pride you feel when you introduce someone to a new song that they like (despite the fact that this then makes you super-protective of that song: ‘but I heard it first!’). Music is a universal language that everyone can understand, and one that everyone enjoys understanding. Whether you’re playing, singing or just listening, your mother tongue and cultural background become unimportant; so if you’re ever at a loss for something to say, say it with music.