In an effort to offer a wider range of academic courses in English for our foreign students, the school has hired a full-time Math and Science teacher. We warmly welcome Cathy O'Shea, who comes to us from England. Below Cathy fills us in on who she is and why she decided to come to Japan.
Where are you from?
West Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
What university did you go to?
Manchester Metropolitan University
What was your major?
My degree was Biological Sciences and I specialized in Biochemistry for four years
Did you always want to be a teacher?
No. I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was younger.
Where did you work in England?
In Manchester and in Huddersfield
What is interesting about where you are from?
I lived in the countryside in West Yorkshire in a historic town called York. This had a cathedral called York Minster which was built around 1200 AD. It is a beautiful walled city and many people from all over the World visit it. The Vikings invaded York and you can visit very old sites which still show traces of the Vikings and you can see how they may have lived.
When did you first come to Japan and why?
In 2005. I came to work in an International school in Yokohama. My main reason was to study aikido as I had done it for many years in the United Kingdom (UK) and had always wanted to train in Japan. I like ancient history and so I like to visit cultures with a rich history. I also love castles!
What is similar about English and Japanese cultures?
Difficult question as we are losing our identity a little bit. In essence, I think many people generally have a deep respect for each other and are polite and unassuming.
What is different?
There is a much better work ethic here and people appear to be conscientious and hard working. Maybe too much hard work as their personal lives are affected I feel. There appear to be different priorities here with respect to work, home life and leisure. People tend to return home much later than in the UK and the emphasis is on a team rather than individual needs. Staff socializing makes a coherent group. There is less of this in the UK and many people just go straight home when their working day is over.
What do you want Japanese people to know about England?
In places it is a beautiful country, especially Yorkshire, though…I am biased! There grass is very green and there are many open spaces in the countryside. There is a wealth of historical buildings and in many cities the old architecture can be quite beautiful. The Lake District National Park is particularly beautiful and you can walk for many hours in the fells (hills). I have walked up the highest mountain in England.
What do you want English people to know about Japan?
The people are very polite and helpful. There are many temples and shrines to see and you can walk in the hills in the countryside also. There is a wealth of good restaurants offering food from around the world and your taste buds would never be bored! The cherry blossoms are amazing, the colour of the pastel pink flowers against the dark bark offers a stark contrast …..it reminded me of a light dusting of snow on the branches. Also, when the flowers fall it is quite an amazing feeling walking under such a `flower shower`! The transport system is easy to follow once you get the hang of it although some stations show no English on their boards which can be a bit disconcerting……people will help you if you look lost! I think it is a great country and I am so happy I returned. It was difficult to leave!
What are your hobbies, sports, etc?
I play the flute although it has been a little while since I picked it up as I have been so busy. I practice aikido and have done so for many years in the UK. I also have a great interest in ancient languages and can read some but not so well I think!
Do you have any big plans in Japan, like places you want to see, things you want to learn, etc?
I want to be able to read, write and speak Japanese but maybe that is a tall order! There are many parts of the country I want to see and I am sure many good experiences awaiting me.
Anything extra you would like to add?
Japan is a great place to live. It may be a little frustrating at first until you get your head round the difference in culture, social etiquette, transport systems, getting your first mobile and setting up bank accounts etc but once that is done your confidence increases and you can wander around quite happily and really enjoy yourself. The country offers a feast for the eyes and your stomach and all my experiences have been very positive. I really don`t want to leave again….but who knows what the future holds! Coming to Japan has certainly been the best decision of my life!