Hello everyone! Today, the Penpal of the Week is a girl who has been quite active on this blog: Sabrina in Finland! Here is her Penpal Ad and here are her Top 10 Quirks.
Please tell us about you!
First of all, thanks Julie for letting me take part in this interview, I always loved reading them, so it is cool to write it myself. :)
So, my name is Sabrina. I am 26 years old, going way too soon 27, and I am not too sure how I feel about that. I was born in Germany and lived in a small village pretty much my whole life. I am a country pumpkin through and through. :) For the last four years, I call Finland my home. Now you may wonder what a German is doing in Finland. No, I did not follow the latest hype of girls moving there to be closer to their favorite “metal” band, nope, it is the other reason, love. :D My boyfriend Antti is Finnish and as we are soon together for eight years. It was time for one of us to move, which was obviously me. :) We live in this tiny village, Tuulos, with our three monsters, aka, the cats. Our two ladies Jenny and Socks from Dubai and the crazy kitten Merlin. I love to spend time at home with them and Antti, relaxing on the couch, watching a movie and writing letters. I am such a movie-o-holic. We watch something all of the time, same as I am always writing something. A letter, my diary, scribbling or drawing something. I am not much of a party girl, I rather spend time with family and friends. :) Though, I am also not opposed to something called Cuba Libre aka nights out in Tampere, where my best friend, Jonna (rakastan, rakastan, rakas kulta), moved to.
Jonna, Michael and me.
I am working in a small family restaurant in Hämeenlinna as a waitress. Some of you may not consider that “the” career, but I am loving it. It keeps me busy and moving. I love to work with customers and I am a big fan of food, so you can call this job a lottery win, also, because I am sort of a work-o-holic. The food there is amazing, so if you ever get to Hämeenlinna, ask me for the address. To keep kind of in shape, I try to go jogging on a regular basis. It helps me getting my head free. So if you see someone running in the woods, music (Beatsteaks!!) loud, singing along, that is most likely me. ;)
Very important to me is a town named Hämeenlinna, 27 km from Tuulos. Tuulos itself is a really tiny place, around 1600 inhabitants. I kind of like it. It is very peaceful here, a lot of lakes and forests. No rush, no traffic, which is great as I can let the cats go outside. Hämeenlinna is a place full of history itself. There is a magical medieval castle called
“Häme castle”, we have the birth home of one of Finland’s most famous composers, Jean Sibelius… and then we have what is most important to me… HPK! HPK is the ice hockey team from Hämeenlinna and this sport has become a passion of mine. Watching of course, I can not skate to save my life. ;) I go to see games as often as my time and money allows. The atmosphere is magical, I love it. The best was the winning of the Championship in 2006.
Other than that I love movies. One year, Antti and I counted the movies we watched and we nearly hit the 600. I know that sounds like a ton but one, two a day. I love to write letters while watching movies or drawing. I am also really fond of one show, the Gilmore Girls. I have watched it so often, I lost count. So remember, “Life is short, talk fast”! That suits me perfectly, I am quite a chatterbox. I used to be a really shy and silent teenager but since my move I am a whole new person. I love to meet different kinds of people.
One of my biggest passions, as this interview might hint, are letters and letter writing. If you like, check out my profile on Interpals, there you find a lot of information about me, if that is not enough for you to read! :)
Traveling also means a lot to me. In the past eight years it was a lot of traveling between Finland and Germany, and it of course still is, as all of my family lives in Germany. But despite these two countries, I love to see new places. I have seen plenty of Europe and been once to America, new York, to be exact. My list of visited countries counts 25, soon I can add number 26 and 27 to the list, Denmark and China. But the places I enjoyed the most were Great Britain, Ireland, Greenland, Iceland and Malta.
Describe your personality in 10 words!
Open minded – I know that sounds pretty much like a cliché, but what shall I say. I try to understand and respect everyone’s opinions as long as I have the same privilege for myself.
Random – I am a pretty random person, I get from one thought to another from zero to one hundred.
Loyal – I really care for the people I feel close to and you can not easily get rid of me.
Sarcastic – besides German, I am fluent in sarcasm and irony. Comes with the package.
Bubbly – I love to laugh, smile and be outgoing. I try to have a positive attitude towards life. A little bit of humor and not taking yourself too serious all of the time does the trick! :)
Moody – yep, that is true, my mood can change from one second to the other, one can not be happy all of the time, right? I never said I was perfect. ;)
International – I love to travel and m little family is quite international, German family, Finnish boyfriend and cats from Dubai. :)
Different – I am not like everyone else and I finally learned to live with that. I was teased at high school, which made me really insecure and now I finally came out of my shell. In most cases I love the person I have become and if someone has a problem with that, it is theirs and not mine. :)
Polite – Maybe that has to do with being German, but it is something really important to me, manners, being punctual and a good portion of common sense and logic.
Emotional – when I cry, I cry, when I laugh, I laugh out loud, no hiding. I live my feelings and emotions, I have a hard time hiding things.
How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!
This hobby – lifestyle! – started about ten years ago in the summer of 2001 when a friend introduced me to Friendship Books (these little booklets where you fill in your address and can find new pen pals) where I found my first pen pal, Piia from Finland. Quite funnily actually considering, that I live in Finland myself now. The one girl I really
remember from back then is Maria Joao from Portugal. Unfortunately we lost contact a couple of years ago. I miss her a lot and think often about her. If anyone knows a 26 years old Portuguese girl with that name, crazy for football, let me know!
I had times when I was writing letters a lot less than now due to certain circumstances in life, which I regret. I make mistakes like everyone else. But for quite a while I am fully back and I plan to stick to this hobby until I am old and grey.
Nowadays I use the internet to stay in touch with my pen pals via e-mail or Interpals. I am really glad for that option, in case a letter gets lost, you can easily find it out these days.
How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?
Honestly, I have never counted nor is the number important to me. I have exactly the amount of pen pals I can keep up with, without neglecting them. I prefer to write back pretty much right away. People tell me I am quite fast, but that is just how I am. :)
I love that my pen pals come from literally all over the world. There are the United States, Canada, Brazil, Australia, England, Finland, the Netherlands, you name it.
I can not list all the amazing people I have met over the years now but there are some I want to mention. Like Eva, from Australia, who I was so lucky to have met this year. Eva is a great friend, and I am truly sad that she lives so far away from me. Same goes for Mikaela, Lina and Roxanne, people for whom I am really, really grateful for. Thank you guys for everything, I really love you.
Me and Eva
I am lucky to have found two awesome examples of male pen pals, Bob from America and Alexander from Zimbabwe, you guys always bright up my day with your mail. Xander creates the most beautiful envelopes (once he even turned my weird face into mail art!) and Bob keeps my sugar level constant with Reese’s. ;) The creativity award definitely goes to Tove with her themed letters and Michi, the Norwegian Elves Ambassadress from Poland.
One example that age does not matter at all are Carolyn and Sarka. <3 That is what I really love about pen palling, you get to know all kinds of people in different stages of life. Vala, Elin, Bruna, Jessie, Marta, Kayla, thank you for being more than pen pals. :) So yeah, that is it. But nevertheless I love all my pen pals and they mean the world to me, thanks for being my friends!
What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?
I really have no preferences. I am a pretty random person myself, so I write about whatever comes to my mind the very second I write. The great thing about pen palling is, that you meet all kinds of different people, which gives you a huge variety of topics to talk about. I like random talk, getting to know about someones every day routines and yeah, the personal things, too. If someone trusts me with a secret and really opens up, that is just a great feeling. Advice, trouble…. I try to be there for my friends. :) It is also fun to pick of bits and bobs of different languages.
What are you looking for in a penpal?
A friend, that simple. People who dare to be themselves. As much as I like getting to know about other cultures, I even more like that you can actually become friends with people who live miles and miles away from you.
I prefer someone who writes longish letters about everything and anything on a regular basis. Like when you do not have to think about writing, but the thoughts just keep coming and you feel like you have written your brain empty because there is nothing anymore, that you have not told. Sharing secrets, every day ramblings, happy moments…
Example of my letters
What do you like the most about penpalling?
The feeling of opening your mailbox and find a handwritten letter. The thought that someone on the other end of the world sat down and took the time to write you a letter, tell about their live and feelings. Making friends. Especially recently I would have been lost without my pen pals. Having someone who lives far away caring for you, if you are alright. Someone who takes you just the way you are. It is the most annoying thing that they live so far away, but that on the other hand is also quite amazing, don’t you think? Like how one can get to know someone so well, who you have (most likely) actually never met. :)
Then there is of course getting to know other cultures and people through mail and letters.
Winter landscape in HML
In what language(s) do you correspond?
I think pretty much in three languages, German, English and Finnish. English is my preferred language for letters. It comes the most natural as I have been writing letters in English for the past ten years. I like to keep using English as much as I can, not to forget it completely. :)
Writing in German feels quite funny, actually and awkward. I am not using my own mother tongue that much anymore. I speak Finnish all day long, write in English and yeah, German got lost somewhere. I do have two pals I write in Finnish with. :) In the future I would really love to learn more Dutch and Swedish. Years and years ago I had a Dutch pal who wrote her letters in Dutch and I replied in German, it was quite funny and challenging! But yeah, English is the language of choice. :)
Church of Tuulos
What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?
Checking my mail box became a crucial part of my routine for years now. It has always been the highlight of my day and usually a tiny disappointment, when there is no mail for me. One thing I miss about Germany is, there is also mail delivered on Saturdays, unlike here in Finland.
I flip through my mail when going back to the apartment. The mailboxes of my apartment are about 300 m away, so I have time for that. I am probably one of the rare people that do not read the letters right away. I just read over them. Why? I don’t always have the time to reply right away and I do want the thoughts to come freshly and not think about what I could write and then forget it over the day and write something completely different. Sounds weird, I know. :) I read the letter when I actually reply to it.
My favorite place to write letters is my bed. Or anywhere on the floor where I can spread my supplies around me. I also always address the envelopes first and try to make them a bit pretty before I mail them.
I don’t like to sit up straight when I write, I need to be comfortable, with some background noise. For some reason I don’t like complete silence, I like to have influences and “distractions” around me. I pretty much write everywhere. I mean, why wasting time sitting around on a bus or when waiting at the doctors? That is why I always carry lots of papers and pens with me. :)
I often have been told that I am super fast with my replies. Well, I try to. I like to have regular contact, be part of someone life and like to know what is going on. Of course life does not always let you reply right away, that is fine, but for myself, I like to be caught up, just because I love to write. When getting a great, inspirational letter, it makes me
want to drop everything and reply. Isn’t that, what pen palling is about? <3 I do like longer letters, but I do not have a “must” number of pages. It is the content that counts. You can write a hundred pages about nothing or a couple ones of important things. It depends on the person. My lovely Carolyn writes me letters of 50 sheets and these are amazing because we have so much in common, but I do not expect that from anyone nor could my hand cope with that for long if all my pals wrote that much! :D I like to use pretty stationery but I am also not opposed to the good old lines and squares. In the end, it is the content that counts and not the appearance.
Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you’ve been penpalling?
Well, I guess it is the usual, all the weird messages you get on Interpals from guys who are either creepy, totally cheesy or just plain weird, like the guy who looked at my picture, saw me in a dream and wrote a poem about it. Yeah…
A funny thing is having cousins as pen pals, which was a complete coincidence and quite amazing to find out “oh, you guys also know each other?” “yeah, we are cousins”… small world, small world.
In 2004 I used to be pen pals with an amazing chick from Canada and as I moved back to Germany, we lost contact. Now a few years later I browse some profiles on Interpals and there she is, Erin! <3 The world, and especially the internet is a really small place!
Have you met any of your penpals?
Oh, I have met quite some of my pen pals, I have really been lucky. The first time was a girl from Finland back in 2004, we met three times actually, also as I moved here for the first time but it did not really went that well in the end. The other meetings were simply wonderful, like when my Polish pal Kamila came to stay here for a few days. I know her for what feels like forever and it was amazing to see her. Same with my dear Roxanne from the Netherlands. We celebrated New Year together this year with our boyfriends and her cousin Marcissa, who is also my pen pal. I had the chance to meet Rox again this summer, when she stayed at my place for a week. Girl talk, sight seeing, it was a perfect week. My personal highlight was when my Australian pen pal came all the way to see me and I still miss Eva a lot (cactus, you rock!). And not to forget Mikaela, my little sister, who I met now three times, once together with Ilka from Germany, at my place and a couple of days at her home in Åland, the prettiest islands you can imagine. In October I hopefully meet my Chinese pal when we visit China. I always use the chance when I go somewhere, to meet my pals. I love traveling, I love my pals, so why not combining that? :)
Other wonderful people I had the chance to meet were Elin from Sweden as we were on a cruise in Stockholm, Sian from England, Tove and her daughter (remember Tove, she did this interview, too!)… I hope to meet all of them some day, they mean the world to me. <3 My dream is to go to Canada to see Kata and Carolyn, who are both very dear to me. I do plan on winning the lottery and plan a trip around visiting my pen pals ;)
Are you currently looking for more penpals?
With my new job, my life got busier, which I love, so I am not actively looking for new pals, but I would never say no if there was someone I really connected with. I could not say no to a potential soulmate. ;) So if someone things we really have a lot in common and would like to get to know me, feel free to drop me a message at my e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or my Interpals profile and we can see. :)
Thank you for telling us about yourself, Sabrina, and for sharing so many fun pictures with us!
If any of you dear readers would like to be featured on my blog as Penpal of the Week, please get in touch with me!