LOS ANGELES (CBS)— Chris Jeon, a math major at UCLA, spent his summer living in Libya among a brigade of rebel troops fighting against deposed leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Jeon says he made the approximately 7,000-mile journey in order to join what he said was one of the only real revolutions in the world.
But he quickly ran into one major problem: he spoke no Arabic and could only communicate using mostly sign language.
“For the first week, it was all charades,” said Jeon. “I became so good at charades.”
It was only when Jeon realized that he needed to find some common ground with the Libyans that he finally made a breakthrough using a most unexpected conversation-starter.
“Their taste in music was interesting,” he said. “They’re in love with Justin Bieber, and when they said that I was like, ‘Oh are you serious?'”
Jeon bought a one-way ticket from L.A. to Cairo and traveled by train and bus to reach his destination, ultimately hitching a ride into the nation’s capitol.