This I Believe

Mabo - San Marcos, Texas
Entered on November 29, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: creativity
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Music: a convenient tool to be closer to people speaking another language

I love music. Classics, pop, rock, heavy metal, techno, Latino…I love to spend my time listening to those kinds of music during a party, a walk to the school, cooking, and my free time. Music entertains me whenever I feel bore. Yet, I know another special benefit of music. Music works as a powerful conversation trigger.

Four years ago, I left Japan and started to study at a university in Texas. I did not know anybody who knew me here. When I was on an airplane flying to Texas, I was so nervous because I did not have confidence that I could have new friends in a different country. I could not speak English fluently. I needed my portable dictionary to communicate with somebody else. In such a condition, I finally faced a situation I had to talk with an English speaker. Lisa, a teacher in English and Second Language course, gave me a drive from the Austin airport to my school dormitory. During the drive, she asked me many questions to get to know me, but I was so struggled to answer the questions because I could not speak English well. The conversation between us was almost covered with silence. I still remember that I felt my mouth was drying out under extreme tension during speaking English to Lisa, a real English speaker (who did not understand my speaking in Japanese at all). However, I could break the silence with one question, “What kinds of music do you like?” She put a CD in her car stereo. I did not know the Latin song from the audio, but it generated more and more conversations between us: “Who is this?” “Do you like Luis Miguel?” “Oh, can you read Spanish?” “So, do you understand what he sings? That’s nice!” Even when I did not know how to say what I wanted to in English, music filled up potential silence while I looked for the words. Suddenly, a hard time with speaking in English turned into a fun time. Music allowed me to have a pleasant conversation with Lisa during the drive. If I was not interested in music at all, I would have experienced a silent 30-minute drive until we got the school dormitory.

Still, communication in English is a difficult task for me because I do not have a big enough vocabulary. Insufficient vocabulary always becomes a big wall between me and English speakers. Actually, I am really not sure that readers of this essay understand clearly what I am writing. Unless I use the right words in the right order, my speaking does not make sense to them at all. Unlike language, music is universal. Everybody knows music. Even when a song is brought from a different country, I can feel the music like people in the country do. Also, music exists forever and does not die. I want to enjoy my life in the United States by making the most of the eternal tool for breaking the wall between English speakers.