So you’re going to your new destination, not sure what lies ahead of you. And finally you see them... three smiling faces - your future colleagues holding a paper with your name on it. Relief.
Agnieszka is a typical and very common Polish name. It doesn’t surprise anyone when you introduce yourself in Poland. It however changes dramatically when you’re abroad. It appears that name ‘Agnieszka’ is nearly impossible to pronounce by anyone who isn’t Pole (fact that I have forgotten being still jet-lagged and slightly overwhelmed by the new situation).
So here you are facing your new employers and introducing yourself with earnest simplicity. “Hi, my name is Agnieszka”. And than it’s starting. Their eyes are getting bigger, their faces showing something between consternation and fear. Chinese culture is all about keeping and losing face. They don’t want to offend you but they won’t admit that they are absolutely unable to call you by your name either. You can nearly swear that they started sweating... You don’t won’t to embarrass them as well as you don’t want them to call you 'Hey, You!’ for the whole next year. What to do? Introduce yourself with English version of your name? For Agnieszka it would be Agnes – they have the same origin – Latin word ‘agnus’ [lat. lamb]. It’s easy but somehow doesn’t feel right. Like you were losing your identity with changing your name. What choice is left? Your pet name. For Agnieszka it is Aga (the same as Tom is for Thomas). How to pronounce it? Do you know Lady Gaga? Pronuntiation is similar (just without ‘g’ at the beginning). Aga – short, simple and still Polish. That should do the trick. So here you can finally introduce yourself without intimidating anyone.
“Hi! My name is Agnieszka, but you can call me Aga. Nice to meet you!”