Q: Psst, so I heard your name actually is Sasha, and not Alexandra. Is that true?
Yes and no. But mostly no. I grew up in Russia, where you can't go through your day without running into an Alexander or an Alexandra. But here's the catch that causes much confusion among English speakers — a diminutive for both names is Sasha. Yes, boys and girls are called Sashas.
When I first visited North America, I felt obliged to tell the whole Alexandra-Sasha story, which caused perplexed looks every time without a fail. In an attempt to minimize those, I started introducing myself as Alex. Until one day I joined a group where there was already an Alex, so I went back to Sasha.
Q: So which one do you prefer — Alexandra, Sasha, or Alex?
Most people now call me Sasha. I use Alexandra for official purposes and papers. There is a group of friends where I am still known as Alex. You are welcome to use any of the above, but be prepared for possible misunderstandings when talking to others.
Q: But it doesn't make any sense, why would Alexandra and Sasha be the same name?
Good question. I never did a deep enough research to answer it, but I might one day. For now accept that some things just are.
Q: Err... How do I pronounce your last name?
This task is not for the faint of heart, but you can do it!
Here's the closest transcription I could muster: /ˈftõo:rē:nə/.
To begin with, the first "V" is actually pronounced as f, according to the phonetic rules of the Russian language. Then goes the "tyu" — long and soft, kind of like the word "tu" in French. The "ri" part is pronounced as "reeh", like in "reef" or "read". Finally, we close off with "na", as in "Hey, would you like to have a last name Vtyurina?" — "Nah, I'm good, thanks."
One last thing to know is that the emphasis goes on the first syllable, not the emphasis on the second syllable as is intuitive for most native English speakers.