The Return of Mr. Shuttleworth: A Year in Vietnam

An article written by Bonny and edited by Daniel.


At the end of the 2018-2019 academic year, BSB’s most enthusiastic Maths teacher Mr. Shuttleworth left for Vietnam only to return at the start of this year. We decided to interview him to find out more about him and his time on the other side of the world.

What inspired you to leave for Vietnam?

I had what I call ‘itchy feet’ - the urge to travel and see the world. Vietnam seemed like a very interesting part of the world to see.

How did you find living and teaching there?

It was different from what I’m used to in Britain and Romania. The climate was warmer and much more humid, which came as a bit of a shock initially. I taught at a school following the British curriculum which wasn’t a certified British school, unlike BSB. The children there were exceptionally good students and class with them was always exciting. However, I do recall having a few difficulties adapting to the busyness of the city.

What was your favourite and least favourite aspect of living there?

Without a doubt, the holidays we would take in the Vietnamese countryside. They have absolutely beautiful mountains and they’ve got lots of natural beauty like Halong Bay and Hoi An, which is an area near the coast. Farming is a prominent aspect of the area so you could always expect your fruit and vegetables to be as fresh as can be. My least favourite was having to live in a much busier city. I found it too hectic for my lifestyle. I may live in Bucharest but even it is a much smaller city than Hanoi, so I find it much easier to live in.

Did you have a most memorable holiday there?

It was definitely Hoi An because the hotel we were staying at had a restaurant run by a man who had travelled all around the world. He was really into sustainable food - all of it was locally sourced and always fresh. He also had a good variety of vegan options on the menu, which was absolutely fantastic for me.

Why did you decide to return to BSB?

It was the School. I didn’t realise what a home BSB was for me until I left it. Once I left, I realised very quickly that I wanted to come back.

Would you say being closer to home is an advantage of living in Romania?

Honestly, no. Once you’re a few hours flight away from the UK, you may as well be 20 hours flight away from the UK. It makes very little odds once you’ve committed to the travel, whether it’s a day’s journey or not.

You said you really enjoyed travelling. Where else have you travelled?

Before returning to Romania, we wanted to explore more of Asia, but were unable to because of the looming epidemic. We still wanted to visit Bali and Cambodia but could only see Thailand as travel became difficult.

That’s a pity. Thailand has pretty good food though…

I really loved the food in Thailand. Both Vietnam and Thailand have excellent vegetarian and vegan food. Many of the restaurants there specialised exclusively on those types of dishes.

Did you have a favourite vegan meal back there?

There was one restaurant called the ‘Hanoi Social Club’ which did a really hearty and satisfying miso soup.

We notice that you’re easily one of the most energetic teachers in BSB, spreading positivity throughout the campus by telling everyone to have an awesome day and enjoy Maths. What inspired you to be this way?

It originally began as a teaching persona that I kind of accidentally took on. Back when I started teaching, I realised that the students would be much happier if I was happier. I put it on as an act and it worked. But the thing is, if you act happy, over time it affects your actual state of happiness. I am genuinely very happy now.

Now for the most important question, what is your favourite Maths equation?

Without a doubt, it is. You’ve got a transcendental number to the power of another transcendental number multiplied by an imaginary number and you get a whole negative real number. Many claim it is the most elegant example of the beautiful complexity of Maths, and I couldn’t agree more.