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Andrew Zitzmann

Apr 14, 2019Accents, Articles, Canadian, Life&Food

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What do you think of cross-cultural relationships?


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José Cruz: Yeah um, I too I started my uh university teaching sort of thing at Kyushu Women’s University and I remember you were sort of like one of the people that I kind of considered my sempai: (Ha ha) people who’d been doing this for a lot longer.

Andrew Zitzmann: A lot longer probably like six months longer than you ha ha.

José: Hey that still counts because I didn’t know what to do and I was so confused. Anyway it was it was good to- to know you. I did remember you then. But life has changed a lot (Yes) in these 20 years, eh? (Yes) How do you like it? I mean like um- the the 20 years living in Japan, was that ever a plan for you?

Andrew: No. Uh I mean my initial plan was- I came over on a working holiday visa. And so it was just sort of to travel around maybe pick up a job or two and you know, stick around for a while. And uh then I- So I found a job at uh, at a juku first and…

José: Ah a cram school yeah.

Andrew: Yeah, and um so I was there for about three years, three years, yeah. And uh, then one thing led onto another…

José: In Fukuoka, so this is all…

Andrew: No here in Kitakyushu. (In Kitakyushu?) Yeah in Kitakyushu. So actually not far from Kyu- Kyushu Women’s University.

José: So this- this- your whole Japan thing has always been Kitakyushu.

Andrew: Always Kitakyushu. Heh. Act- actually I I first came to- I first came to Fukuoka uh but I arrived in- perfect timing: Obon. So nice and hot and I walked off the plane and uh cursed myself for choosing, where the hell am I now?

José: Just had that whoosh of humid air, right? (Ha ha) Oh man, (Yeah) oh man.

Andrew: Yeah. So but then I was in Fukuoka for a couple of weeks and then through connections, family connections- I knew- there was a- there was a woman in Kitakyushu who had invited me one year in Japan, come by, do a homestay so I went and did the homestay, and then while I was doing the homestay, um I got wind of uh a job in- at the cram school and uh, yeah one thing led to another and (So it was) 20 years later, ha.

José: The fact that work was so convenient and work was so good that that sort of prompted you over time to just keep staying one more year, one more year, kind of thing?

Andrew: Yeah well I- I was Yeah it was basically one year contracts to begin with and I I enjoyed the work, I was having a good time. And uh, I don’t know. Yeah and then when I got married. Then…

José: That seals the deal, doesn’t it?

Andrew: That sort of, yeah sealed the deal. Yeah, especially since uh my wife didn’t speak any English so. (Really?) Yeah yeah.

José: Didn’t speak (It was the) any English?

Andrew: It was the typical, you know, what’s your name? “Ha ha ha.”

José: Ha ha ha. Uh but that’s a good thing. (Yes yes) It gave you a chance- well, does she speak English now?

Andrew: Yeah. Yeah now she does.

José: So um, you’ve been teaching her English.

Andrew: Uh after- after we got married she went to Canada for three months and studied at the language school, so she lived with my parents for six weeks ha ha. (Without you) Without me (Ah nice) until- until I, until I got there after work was finished. (Mm hmm) And so she was studying- She took an intensive program at McGill. And uh, yeah, so daytime all day studying English (Holy cow) and then come home and have to speak English with uh, with my folks.

José: Obviously she was madly in love with you (Ah) wanting to study English that hard, right?. But you didn’t- When you first met her she didn’t speak English. (No no) That, If I uh- I don’t want to be too intimate, but that must have been difficult to communicate, no?

Andrew: Yeah well when we- when we first- I mean I met her a year after I got to Japan, so. I mean I spoke broken Japanese, but… We could communicate on a basic level. And uh it was sort of uh, kind of incentive to improve the language so…

José: Yeah well obviously you hit it off. Ha ha.

Andrew: Yeah yeah, so


Could you have romance with someone who doesn’t speak your language?

Do you ever think about living somewhere you don’t know the language?

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José Domingo Cruz image

José Domingo Cruz


Vancouver, British Columbia

Andrew Zitzmann image

Andrew Zitzmann


Montréal, Québec


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