THE LIFE STORY OF A FOREIGN STUDENT – CHAPTER 2 – My name and its problems

My name is Adriana García Pinilla. I am a Spanish girl, and I’ve always had problems with my name.

My problems started in Year 1, when I turned up to primary school for the first time in my life. I turned up to school a month after everyone else, because I had travelled the world with my parents to pick up my adopted brother in Colombia, but that’s another story I may tell you another time. Anyway, the first day I turn up I discover that there are 2 other people in my class with the surname García, Alberto García Blanco, Alberto García and another surname which I am unable to remember, and then there is me. The three of us had A.G. as our first two initials. So my teacher called me Adriana Pinilla and cut García from my name for the next two years of my life. I do have to give you some background information about the surname García, it is the most common surname in Spain, it is like being called Smith in England.

When I went up to year 6 I met this girl called Belén, this name translates in English to Bethlehem, and if you have read my previous post about my uncles Jesús and José, you will understand why the translations of such names are relevant. This is what I call ‘Long Live Catholicism!’ *sarcasm*. This girl gave me a nickname, she joined my three names together and I became Adrigarcipini, which was shortened by some people to Adrigarpi as the previous one was way too long.

The first time I came to England I struggled with my name, this was in year 7. Everyone had cool nicknames but me, I couldn’t just be Adri, it wasn’t cool enough. My friend Harry Middleton had the nickname H&M (everyone thought it was so cool). My other friend Milo Marsh had a similar nickname, it was M&M. We were so damn creative. Marshie was my friend Amelia Marsh, Tash or Woodsie for Natasha Woods, or Hemsworth, who was simply called by his surname and only learnt that his name was Oliver at the end of the year. I HAD TO HAVE A NICKNAME!! So my friend Amelia Marsh started calling me something that sounded like adge-badge, or adge-patch or something of the sort, I can’t really tell you what it was. That was one very pathetic nickname.

My brother has recently started calling me adrigp22, this is pronounced adri the letter g (from my surname García), the letter p( from my other surname Pinilla) two two. Not twenty-two, but two two. I can’t tell you the reason for the name as I don’t know, but you can ask him if you wish, but I can’t promise you he will give you the answer, as he hasn’t given me one yet.

This is my 5th year in England, and after 5 years I can conclude that English people are unable to say or spell my name. People usually call me weird names like Andri, Ari, Ardi and even Andy or Audrey when my name is clearly Adri. When spelling my name people have written Adrei, Andrea (which sounds completely different than Adriana), Adrienne, Adrianna, or Adrianne. They are all fairly similar, but not my name! To give you an example of this, I am going to tell you a true story that happened with my current roommate Sophie, who is one of the bloggers of this blog. A couple of months ago I was trying to write my name on an audition sheet to audition for the A1 play. For those of you who don’t know me I am quite very short (I know it’s not good English), I am 5,2ft. As usual, I couldn’t reach, so I asked Sophie to write my name on the sheet. The poor girl wrote Adrianna Garcîa, which is not too far off, however she is my roommate, and on the door of our dorm there is a card indicating our names.

What do I write in official exams? This is a question that has haunted me since the start of my GCSE years, do I write García Pinilla?, which are my two surnames? Or do I simply write García? I mean, English people only have one surname, so should I hyphenate so I make it into one? That would make it García-Pinilla, which doesn’t look particularly pretty. Do I accentuate the i in García or do I just write Garcia. Sometimes I have worried more about how to write my name than the content of the exam.

My family and my name is a topic I would like to talk about. My name isn’t in the Bible, or at least I don’t think it is, which is quite strange, as until I was born everyone born to my mum’s family had a religious name, except for my grandpa, whose name is Marcelo, like the football player. My grandmother has a thing about knowing songs to everyone’s names, so she moved hell on earth to find a song with the name Adriana when she found out that I was to be called the such name. She did find a song, I, however, do not know how to feel about the song, it is quite weird. My mum surprised me the other day and called me Adri, it freaked me out, she has always called me by my full name and I did not know how to react. I didn’t like that at all. To conclude, I am Adriana for my parents, and Adri for everyone else.

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