Sounds Like a Country: The Curse of a National (Sounding) Name

By Britton Farrell '16

Britton Farrell '16

Britton Farrell '16

“Hey, my name is Britton.”  “Hey, I’m Israel.”   “My name is Cyprus.”

“Like the country?”

“Were you born there?”

These are the common responses received by the cast out cosmopolitan circle unlucky enough to have a name that sounds like a country.

While it may seem like an enviable trait, especially as an icebreaker when meeting someone new, it’s actually a devastating curse. When I first started at Booth, I made a point to find others who shared my plight. My journey led me to two other sad first year Boothie souls – Israel Rojas-Moreno and Cyprus Kahn.  Hopefully our stories will make all of you out there with “non-country” names think twice before you haphazardly string off witty remarks to us “country” folk.

Because it is all about the kids.

Because it is all about the kids.

Britton (me) – “First of all, I’m not actually from Britain. But ever since I can remember, I’ve felt a deep connection with the Royal Family. I know the spelling is a bit off, but to me, it’s all about the sound. I was repeatedly picked on as a child, all because of my infatuation with British Royalty. After numerous verbal and physical thrashings, I started to claim the old country as my home. This made it easier and more socially acceptable to host ‘Royal Wedding Sleepovers’ and organize ‘Royal Baby Name Betting Pools’ (FYI next one is April 15th at The Red Lion Pub). For my fellow Tories – we will light candles in vigilant silence while bemoaning the happenings of the Tea Party (1770s version), then sing God Save the Queen triumphantly as we do our taxes by hand (sans calculators).”

Israel – “The truth is, I was born in Israel, but I’ve always been ashamed to admit it because I don’t speak any Hebrew. And since I grew up with a bunch of Mexicans and speak Spanish, it’s always been easier for me to blend in with them. Plus, I’ve always wanted to cheer on a country capable of winning the World Cup – though not sure I made the right decision. However, I have drafted a premarital agreement with my fiancé to call our first born, regardless of gender, Rio-Buenas Madrid Munich.”

Cyprus – “I feel like I was dealt the worst hand of all – being named after a country AND a tree. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked, Booth ROI wouldn’t matter. I’d be retired. Which would be great because my personal balance sheet is increasingly looking like my namesake’s – not that my Spring Break spending could ever compare to Cyprus’s complete disregard for economic planning. Was I born in Cyprus? Hell, no! But I’m asked so often, I make up fables to keep sane. My favorite response? ‘Yes, I was born in Cyprus. Actually, it was a water birth in the Mediterranean.’”


Britton Farrell is a first year student at Chicago Booth and is the best Tetris player you’ve ever seen