Archive for July, 2011

July 31st, 2011

Penpal of the Week #36


(This was originally posted on my old blog, We’ve Got Paper, on February 22, 2010.)


This week, we have our first Penpal of the Week from Indonesia: Tiya.


Please tell us about you!

Hello everyone! :D


I am excited to be here and get the chance to introduce myself and my HUGE hobby of snail mailing! :D


So, my name is Tiya and am from Indonesia. Indonesia is one of the countries in South East Asia. I live in an island called Java, but originally from the most southern part of the country called Papua. Papua is one of the five big provinces in Indonesia and there are more than 250 tribes in it, with their own languages. Mine is called Biak and I have been trying to learn it. But we have a national language called Indonesian, that has enabled us to communicate with each other throughout the country. :D



Sun Flower is my favorite flower. This picture of mine was taken in Singapore Airport.


I love learning languages. I speak Indonesian, English, a bit of Biak and Dutch and am learning Korean at the moment. It is so hard but it challenges me to use a better strategy. :D I am also interested in Sociology and Community Development and really hope that I can go back to school to learn more of the subjects one day. :D


I collect anything about Winnie the Pooh, and also collect pencils, pens and yellow notepads.




Describe your personality in 10 words!

I got the following description about myself from a Facebook quiz that I took and when I read it I was like “This is so me. They even know my favorite color which is Green” :D, so I think I would write it here. :D



My hometown, Papua. It is Pacific behind us.


“You are Green! You tend to be a little more introverted than extroverted – while you love being with your friends, you still need your “you” time. You are probably a rather laid back, zen sort of person, unless you get a good kick of energy; then you can be crazy fun! You know when to lie down and let someone take the lead, but if you feel strongly about something, you’re not afraid to stand up for it! You are compassionate and like plants. You may be a little off-beat, and feel like not many people really see the depth in your personality. You would rather keep things on a superficial level that other people can understand than show the deeper side of yourself. You, in a nutshell: Cool, energized, balanced, strong, zen, deep, intelligent, logical and compassionate.”



Another view of one of the beaches in Papua.


How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!

I first started penpalling around the age of 13. My first penpal was a girl called Bethany from America. But she actually lived in Indonesia for a few years, so we got to meet a few times. We kept in touch after she returned to America, but then lost in touch for a few years and just recently found each other on Facebook.


I also had a few other penpals from the Netherlands, Japan, and Italy. I completely lost in touch with the ones from Japan, but just got back in touch with the ones from Italy and the Netherlands, which has been exciting. :D



Me with my two good friends. I am the one on the right.


How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?

Right now I have 20 penpals. Most of them I met through Interpals (my profile name there is tiya2480).


They are from the States, Finland, Switzerland, Estonia, Japan, Canada, Austria, Hungary, Russia, Croatia, Poland, Sweden, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.


I really enjoy writing and getting news from each of them, learning about their lives and cultures. I really hope we all will stay in touch for years to come. :D



A sample of my handwriting.


What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?

The lives of my friends, what they have been through and share the excitement and sadness, the culture differences, ways of thinking on things that some take for granted, languages and new stationary stuff and to include some of this in the letter, so they can get the idea what I talk about. :D



Me with the Javanese dancers.


What are you looking for in a penpal?

Penpals who want to have a long-term friendship, who will not disappear after a few letters, who enjoy the friendship and have mutual respect and simply paying attention in the communication by writing regularly.



Me at Borobudur temple. It used to be one of the wonders in the world.


What do you like the most about penpalling?

The unique friendship that has built through the letters, getting to know some people who live in other parts of the world and the awesome feeling of opening a mail box and seeing letters came all the way from other countries, written by people who think about you and spend time to write you.



Borobudur Temple


In what language(s) do you correspond?

English and Dutch.


What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?

I like to write letters on my desk, facing this wall full of pictures of my friends and family and so many different Winnie the pooh cards, stickers, sun flowers and leaves.


When I get a letter, I write back right away. I don’t want my penpals to wait too long, the longest for me to write back would be three days after receiving it. :D



My friend and I are hiking to the top. This is one of the many mountains

that you can hike in the area where I live, Central Java.


Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you’ve been penpalling?

I mentioned earlier about my early penpal who lives in the Netherlands. It has been ages since we were in touch. And out of nowhere, in fact just last month, I got a message sent through a penpal site we are members of, asking whether I was the Tiya whom she used to write. And you have no idea how excited I was to find out that she’s my long lost penpal friend! :D It has been awesome to be in touch with her and hopefully we won’t be missing each other again! :D


Have you met any of your penpals?

I got to meet my first penpal, Bethany, a few times. However, I did not get to take pictures of us.


I have not met my new penpals yet, but I hope one day we will. :D



Some of my stationary stuff.


Are you currently looking for more penpals?

Yes, there is always room for new penpals. So yeah, I would be happy to get to know more people. Just write me at or my Interpals.


Thanks a lot, Julie, for the interview. It’s been really fun!! :D


Thanks to you, Tiya, for answering my questions!


* I’m looking for a couple of people who would like to be featured as Penpal of the Week on my blog in the coming weeks, so if you’re interested, please let me know!

July 30th, 2011

Penpal of the Week #35


(This was originally posted on my old blog, We’ve Got Paper, on February 15, 2010.)


This time, let’s say hello to Nina from Switzerland!


Please tell us about you!

First of all I’d like to thank Julie for featuring me as Pen Pal of the Week! I’m really excited to do this and I hope you will enjoy reading my interview!


My name is Nina Chiara (“Kiara”) and I’m a 22 year-old student from Switzerland. I’m currently studying Political Science and Anthropology but honestly, I don’t think I’ll actually graduate in these subjects. I’m thinking something a little more artsy might suit me much better!



On my 22nd birthday. I love this picture, it shows me at my best – laughing!


I live in a tiny village surrounded by forests, fields and the Swiss Alps. I absolutely love the nature and the view (I’m neighbors with a bunch of horses) but I wouldn’t mind living a bit closer to Zurich, where I go to university, the movies, the opera, the theater, etc.


I still live at home with my parents and younger brother. Rent is incredibly expensive in Zurich and I don’t have a job right now. Nevertheless, I’d love to move closer to the big city! I’ve lived in Barcelona and Vancouver so far and although I miss nature sometimes, I adore big city life.



View from our balcony.


My family is really crazy, we always say we should do a reality show like the Osbournes and we’d have tons of success :-D


We’ve got 5 pets, 3 cats and 2 turtles. I love cats very much and cannot imagine a life without cats in it!


I’m in love with music. I play the piano every day, I sing and sometimes I play around on my brother’s guitar, although I really don’t know how to play the guitar. I love music I can listen to with my heart and soul and I’ve found that in the music of Tori Amos. Of course I also like other artists such as Alanis Morissette, Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, Ani Difranco, classical and world music.


One of my biggest hobbies is writing letters, of course. I write about 4 letters a week when I’m on vacation and maybe one a week when I’m in university. Feel free to check out my Interpals profile.


Other hobbies of mine are drawing and painting – I can lose myself in a project for hours and really forget everything around me. I also love to go to the movies, the theater, concerts and operas. It’s a pity that so few young people are interested in classical music!



Back when I still had long hair. Close to the opera house in Zurich.


I’m a big bookworm! My favorite author is Virginia Woolf but I read anything from Dostojewskij to Kathy Reichs. You could say that music and literature are two of my biggest passions in life.


I’ve basically been acting all my life. It’s only recently that I’ve stopped because I haven’t found a good drama group yet but I’m determined to keep theater arts in my life.


I’m a real globetrotter, mostly due to my parents who took me on a trip for the first time when I was barely 4 months old. I love discovering new and exciting places where I can listen to languages I don’t understand and get to know people who lead lives that are very different from mine. No matter where I go in the world, however, I always find evidence supporting my most valuable conviction: that all people are the same. We might speak different languages, like different things, look different, lead our lives according to different religions and mores; but in our hearts we’re exactly the same human beings longing for love and connections and a way to live our lives in a meaningful manner.


The country that has affected me the most is Kenya. It has shown me that happiness is not connected to anything material, it is simply a way of life.


The country that has given me most is Canada. Nowhere can I be myself the way I can with my Canadian friends and some day – sooner rather than later – I will move to Canada for good. There is nothing I’m more determined to do!



At least I certainly do! Canada is my favorite country in the world,

it’s where I feel at home.


Another thing you might want to know about me – I’m a lesbian. Personally, I don’t find it to be that big a deal but apparently society feels a need to condemn people like me. I had this epiphany a couple of months ago where I realized that I’ve got much more in common with my female friends in general than with the other lesbians I know. The aspects that unite us are much more numerous that the ones that set us apart. I really think love is love and I don’t see a big difference between my straight friends and me. But some people are still very afraid of things they don’t know and they make up the weirdest stories about homosexuals.



This summer I participated in the Vancouver Pride Parade. It was an awesome experience!


Describe your personality in 10 words!

Private, emotional, intellectual, bookish, different, polite, interesting, musical, multilingual, geeky.


How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!

I’d say I’ve been pen palling seriously since I was 12 years old, for 10 years now, that is.


My first pen pal’s name was Nula and she lived in Switzerland too. She responded to an ad I’d put in a children’s magazine and we ended up writing to each other for about 4 years. During our best times I’d get a letter from her every Thursday and she’d get one from me every Tuesday. It was an incredible experience. We also met up twice, once at her house and once at mine. Our friendship endured her exchange year in Chile and mine in Canada and we were very close – we wrote about everything. Unfortunately when Nula started to go to university she didn’t have time to write letters anymore and she suddenly stopped responding to mine. That was definitely a huge disappointment, not knowing why she’d stopped writing until I found her on Facebook where she explained it to me. Remembering the time we were pen pals, however, will always be very special to me.


Since then I’ve had many pen pals, my oldest right now is Katri from Finland. She’s an awesome young lady and I feel like I’ve known her all my life. I hope we’ll manage to meet up in person one day!



The Oberengadin. Isn’t it just so beautiful? I love mountains.

I grew up surrounded by the Alps and whenever I’m somewhere

I can’t see mountains for too long, I feel like something’s missing.


How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?

I’ve got roughly 14 pen pals. They’re form Switzerland, Scotland, Germany, Croatia, Canada, the US, Singapore, Sweden, Turkey, Finland, China, Trinidad and Tobago, Hungary.


I’m lucky enough to have a few long-term pen pals and others whom I just recently met on Interpals and am very excited to get to know better.




What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?

Generally I’m up for any topic. Nothing is really off limits for me since I love hearing other people’s opinions, no matter how different they might be from mine. Sometimes, however, I’m a bit reluctant to write about difficult or painful things that might have happened in my life, especially when I’m not feeling too positive. In a good mood I’ll write about anything and answer any questions my pen pals might have for me.



My “little” brother Lucca and I. We get along great and I love him to pieces!


What are you looking for in a penpal?

A friend.


I like people who are different, who are artsy, have opinions and plans and, most of all, who have a positive attitude towards life. We all get depressed from time to time but to maintain a positive, optimistic attitude about it all is vital and essential for me. Pessimists just pull me down and I find life too precious to have a negative outlook on it.


A very important criteria for a pen pal of mine is that they take letter-writing seriously. I’m not expecting my pen pals to write letters of 10 pages or to write once a week. But to really get to know someone it’s important that you keep talking to them regularly and fairly often.


What I like most is to hear about the daily lives of my pen pal. Some people might find that boring, but I do enjoy reading about what my pen pal has been doing the day she is writing a letter to me. Then of course I also like to hear about their work/studies and anything else that is going on in their lives. A letter only bores me if it is only about the weather or very superficial. Fortunately I’ve only read very few superficial letters in my 10 year career as a pen pal.



Corsica. One of my favorite places on earth.


What do you like the most about penpalling?

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of opening your mailbox and finding a handwritten letter from halfway across the world in it. I think it’s wonderful to get to know people you would never have meet otherwise. And the thought that someone takes the time to sit down and write a letter to you, a stranger (in the beginning), making an effort to get to know you, is wonderful.


In what language(s) do you correspond?

I correspond in English, German and Spanish. I’d love to have a French pen pal so as to practice the second of Switzerland’s 4 official languages.



My best friend. :)


What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?

For a few months now I’ve been writing my letters at my new big desk in my room. I like to respond to a letter I’ve received as quickly as possible. This past semester, unfortunately, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by university; therefore it took me a lot longer than usual to write back. For this next semester I’m determined to use my time more wisely, thus being able to respond to letters much faster than before.


I usually use nice stationery, but not always. Although I enjoy beautifully decorated letters, I really think it’s more about the content than the appearance. As long as I can read my pen pal’s handwriting, I’m happy, and I always try to keep my letters as legible as possible.


From time to time I like to swap little things like tea or post cards. I’ve never been a big swapper, but lately I’ve become interested in it.



The box I keep the letters of my current pen pals in.


Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you’ve been penpalling?

I’ve got this wonderful pen pal from Turkey, Seda. In every letter she sends me little gifts from Turkey. Key pendants, post cards, sweets – it’s great!


I once had a pen pal from Kenya; she was the daughter of the hotel receptionist where I stayed with my family in Mombasa. In the beginning writing to her was great but then she started asking me for money, which I actually sent but she claims she never got it. Things got a bit confusing from then on with me receiving letters from her with Swiss postage on it and gradually we lost touch. That was weird.


I also had a pen pal from Sri Lanka when I was about 15 years old. Again, at the beginning it was all good but then he seemed to be under the impression that I was interested in a romantic (letter?) relationship with him. Yeah, no.



My cat on my bed. He seems to be under the impression that he actually owns it.


Have you met any of your penpals?

I’ve met four of my pen pals in person, so far. My first pen pal, Nula, I’ve already told you about.


Then here’s Millie from Canada, who was my e-pal for a while and invited me to stay at her house when I went back to Canada a couple of months after I’d gotten home from my exchange year. I had a great time with her but the funny thing is that today I’m friends with her sister Sadie and almost don’t hear from Millie anymore. But I’m grateful that I know them both and I consider Sadie to be a very good friend of mine.


Last summer I also met Narisa, another Canadian pen pal of mine. We spent two wonderful days together and she showed me an incredible dessert place called True Confections where they make the most amazing cakes ever! Spending time with Narisa is really interesting; she’s lived in very different countries due to her dad’s profession and has some funny stories to tell.



My pen pal Narisa and I in Vancouver.


The third pen pal I’ve met in person is Lavinie from the French part of Switzerland. The first time we met was at a piano recital by Hélène Grimaud in Lucerne. It was fun to see her in person because I felt like I knew her and at the same time I didn’t. In January I went on a spur-of-the-moment kind of trip to Vienna, Austria, where Lavinie is doing her MA, and she offered me to stay at her apartment. We couldn’t spend that much time together because she had to go to university every day, but we did go see an opera together and we also went for coffee. I enjoyed myself very much in Vienna.


Like I said above, I’d love to meet my Finnish pen pal Katri in the near future. I just have this feeling that we’d get along great face-to-face as well.


I’m happy to say that this summer my pen pal Lucy from the US is probably coming to Switzerland and I’m very excited to meet her in person!


Are you currently looking for more penpals?

I am, especially male pen pals. I only have one male pen pal and although I know there are some really interesting guys out there who love writing letters, so far I haven’t been lucky enough to meet one. But everyone is welcome, as long as you’re open-minded and have something interesting to say!


Thank you, Nina!


* If anyone is interested in being featured on my blog as Penpal of the Week, just reply to this post!


My name is Julie and I'm 37.
I'm French Canadian and fell
in love with an American,
so I'm now living in Vermont
with my wife.

I write letters, I love stationery and I have a handwriting fetish. I often eat sushi, still feel like I'm 16 and only wear skirts & dresses (with colorful tights when it's cold).

I'm happier with a mind full of ideas, a mailbox full of letters from my penpals, a shop full of stationery, a house full of pens and a day full of hugs.

Read my Top 10 Quirks here.

This is me with my wife,
Denise. We met through the
League of Extraordinary
Penpals and are living
happily ever after in the
Stationery Kingdom.

Denise blogs here too and is
the one in charge of the
social media: Facebook,
Twitter and Pinterest.

She's 40 years old,
from South Dakota,
and in love with me, washi
tape & imperial rolls.

Send your penpal ad & top 10 quirks to:

Grab a Button

penpal of the week