My name is Andrea.
When I arrived in Switzerland 13 years ago, I did not think that my name could have sounded so “unique” (I will explain you why) in this country.
In my class in the primary school, at a certain point, we were even 6 “Andrea”: the name Andrea was very common for the boys born in the seventies. The teachers didn’t dare to use our first name, they just switched to the family name.
So, although I like my name, I always thought it’s quite a common, maybe too common male name.
When I arrived in Switzerland, I suddenly became a woman!
Not so extremely! No operation, no change of sex!
It’s just that in Switzerland, and actually all over the world (except Italy), Andrea is a female name!!
Here in Switzerland, and in the German speaking countries, I should be AndreaS, with a final “s”.
When I started working here, the day before my start they put a nice tag with my name on my desk. All the colleagues (especially the men!) were quite happy and excited that they would have met their new colleague: a nice pretty Italian girl!
You can imagine their disappointment when they learnt, meeting me for the first time, that in Italy Andrea is a very common name, a very common – male – name!
When I receive a letter or an e-mail in Switzerland, they’re always addressed to a Ms Andrea…
When I receive a phone call from unknown people, it seems that they always would like to talk to my wife, my daughter, my mom: the Andrea they are looking for.
“May I speak to Ms Andrea…please?”. I reply “Speaking”. Then normally some seconds of shock, embarrassment, silence, weird mumbling follow. Yes, the woman you were looking for has a quite low voice, sounds quite annoyed and finally it’s a man!
When after a phone call or a personal meeting, they send me a letter or an e-mail, they are still addressed to a Ms Andrea…It’s stronger than them! If it’s Andrea, it’s a woman, even if they should know that it’s actually a man!!
But sometimes, being exchanged for a woman, has some advantages: people (especially men) are normally nicer and sweeter than needed when they think they are writing to a woman. Or is it just my idea?
That’s why the most of the people, even if they know that I’m a man, who is called AndreA, probably not to fight against their common knowledge (Andrea = woman!) call me “unbedingt” (absolutely) AndreaS, with the S at the end, which all the respectful German names shall have!