When you travel not as a tourist, but to visit friends and family, like I usually do, there are so many huge benefits, but also a few hardships. One in particular that I’ve been thinking about today is language barriers. My friend here has her boyfriend visiting from Iran for a week, and though he understands some things, he can really only communicate with us when she translates into Farsi. He sits and seems to listen, but when I asked him how much of the conversation he comprehends, he said it was less than a quarter. I empathize with his situation, as I’ve been in his position before, ranging from not understanding anything (like when I’ve been in Norway or Palestine, as examples) to being able to almost completely follow along but not participate fully (with family in Germany or while in any Spanish speaking country.) However, he was more clever than I’ve been in these situations because he came prepared and with ideas and willingness for silent socializing. He brought a deck of cards and played games and showed us tricks, he helped to cook, and most significantly, he brought a hookah pipe with him. Being so common in the region I’m sure he would do hookah anywhere, but it was nice to participate and engage more fully in an activity with him and to welcome him and involve him in our group dynamics. They say that 70% of communication is non-verbal, but it is still difficult to be the odd-man out when it comes to language. Regardless, there are fun ways to silently socialize. I’ll have to think of these more the next time I’m somewhere and can’t understand exactly what is going on.