Hi everyone! I apologize for posting today’s interview so late… I was sick in bed all day! Normally I don’t like taking medication, but drugs were very welcome this time!
I’m doing a little better already, so let’s meet the Penpal of the Week now. She’s a girl that I’ve known via slams and online groups for probably more than 10 years.
Please tell us about you!
My name is Sabine, I am 33 years at the moment. Well, hard to believe sometimes. I am Austrian, grew up on the countryside but moved to Vienna for my studies over 10 years ago. Apart from having lived in the capital of my country, I lived in France and Italy each for one year. At the moment I am living in Nicaragua, Central America. I moved here roughly two years ago to work in a sustainable rural development project, where I work with farmers and their micro-financed businesses. Most of the time I love my life and job here but sometimes I am struggling with cultural barriers or mentality. But I love people, I love working with them, I love going out to the farms in the middle of nowhere even if it means walking in rubber boots. Life is sunny and a great challenge is what I believe in.
Hello, that’s me!
I studied international business administration (meaning business with languages) and I speak 5 languages (English, Spanish, Italian, French and my mother tongue German). I am pretty sure I do not want to work in business all my life but for the moment, I am still a business girl.
My main interests/hobbies have varied a lot especially here in Nicaragua where the offer of entertainment (movies, concerts, cultural events etc) is really scarce. I have always loved music, going to gigs and dancing, this will never change. Dancing to me is like breathing, I totally dig belly dance but dance to metal as well! I got into yoga and meditation, and have interests in lots of spiritual stuff. I am currently reading a lot about psychology and my main interest in psychology are C.G. Jung’s theories and archetypes of the shadow principles. Who knows, I might try to get a degree in this one day?
Giving computer class for the farmers & their children in Nicaragua.
I love animals a lot and I still have this dream of leading a simple life one day, in an old cottage close to a lake or forest and having lots of animals like ducks, cats, a dog, geese, a pig, a sheep etc and a garden with vegetables and herbs. Also I would like to learn to make my own incense of dried herbs/flowers/petals and tree resin.
My darling Laica and me, my dog here in Nicaragua.
What else should you know about me? I am not at all serious but I have the impression this description of mine sounds like it! I love to laugh, to socialize, to do spontaneous things, to go shopping as well. Yes, I work in a poor country and try to contribute to a better world but I am still a material girl. I love SHOES for example. And I have more shoes than any of my friends. I have this idea to set up a blog where my story is told by the shoes I own… I have silly ideas like that all the time.
Ivania – a girl I met when working on the river in Nicaragua.
Something else, I’d like to mention is my love for foreign countries. I love traveling and exploring places. It is hard for me to understand that people can live in a country/place and never having had the desire to see something else/something new. I guess I would suffocate if I could not travel. And traveling is something you can easily combine with meeting your penpals :D
Meeting my Italian penpal Daniela in Rome, July 2008.
Describe your personality in 10 words!
That is kind of difficult because I feel my personality has changed and somehow I feel I am more balanced than I have ever been before. Let me try! I believe I am friendly, smart, spontaneous, self-reflective, independent, intuitive, optimistic, creative, a dreamer, ambitious and lazy at the same time and I would say I am definitely outgoing.
Learning how to make chocolate from a lady I am working with in Rosita, Nicaragua.
How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!
I first started writing letters to my favorite aunt who lived in the capital of Austria, Vienna, when I was 10 years old. I missed her and I wanted to be in touch and I remember writing a bunch of letters to her. I received two letters from her and I still remember the stationery she used. Purple and green.
At about the same time, I started writing to some friends that I only saw during my summer vacations but I never got any answers from them. So my first foreign penpal was Connie Dimech from Malta. I was 12 or 13 by then and had “ordered” her address from IYS in Finland. I was so excited about it but my English back then was still very basic, so I started a blueprint letter first before copying on cute stationery in a neat way. We exchanged a few letters but as it happened so often back then, she stopped writing, unfortunately. But from them on writing letters became a huge hobby and in peak times, I had about 50 penpals!
Nicaragua has the most beautiful Pacific beaches & I love taking photos.
How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?
I am writing with a handful of people nowadays.
Stefi, Francesca and Daniela from Italy, Cindy from Canada, Petra and Sandra from Austria, Penny from Hong Kong, Tanya from Bulgaria, Amylea from Australia, Melissa from the US, Anja from Germany and Shani from Israel.
Some of them have been good friends for 10 years and longer, others are more recent friendships. But they are all true friends I share important details of my life with. Also I have met some, taken trips to meet them or we met when they were visiting my country.
My Austrian penpal Petra and me in Nov 2008,
first time we met after having written for 5 years.
What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?
That totally depends. I guess, the most important thing is that we have some common interests and then we talk about what’s going on in our lives, what we want to share, moments of importance, what makes us happy, what makes us sad, what dreams we have and so on.
Rosita Airport, countryside Nicaragua – where I often fly to from Managua.
Military has to make sure the cows do not cross when the plane comes in ;)
What are you looking for in a penpal?
The readiness to form a true friendship and dedication to write a letter. Wow, this sounds serious. Haha. No, penpalling is not a serious matter to me, but I feel it takes a little more than to write one page and call it a letter. And well, that they like to “talk” in their letters like I do ;)
Waiting at the check in at Rosita Airport with a friend,
who is Austrian as well and permanently living there.
What do you like the most about penpalling?
I like best that every letter is a surprise in an envelope!
In what languages do you correspond?
I write in English with most of my penpals, I do write Italian with two girls from Italy, and German with the ones from Austria and Germany. I could write in Spanish and French as well and I would certainly love to correspond in those languages to keep practicing them.
What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?
My habits… I do love to get up in the morning on the weekend and the first thing I do is sit down by my desk and start a letter or continue a letter I had started the night before… even before dressing, before having had coffee… I just love that feeling.
The older I get the longer my letters tend to be. Haha. I can certainly write up 30 pages… but that is not standard. I would say one of my usual letters is about 5 to 8 A5 pages or well, longer… ;)
As for the time it takes me to write back, it depends really. I hardly let letters get older than 3 months but sometimes it happens, especially now that delivery to Nicaragua can take up to 6 weeks already. I do not have a special order in which I reply to people. It really depends on my mood. Maybe it is not fair, but hey do you meet your friends in a special order or just depending on what you want to do/talk about and on your mood, no?
A night out in Hollywood with my penpal Melissa, Aug 2011.
Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you’ve been penpalling?
I might mention receiving my first Friendship book ever. Not that it is something strange to receive but I did not know WHAT it was and WHAT to do with it and this was before Internet was ruling the world. So, I was so scared with the booklet, I had no idea what it was and thought all these people wanted something from me and could find me through my address if I put it there, so I threw it away. That was certainly stupid but I was too scared.
My Canadian penpal and me at the edge of Grand Canyon.
Have you met any of your penpals?
Oh, I have met MANY!!! A lot of them stopped writing, because they quit palling but we are still friends online and we do keep in touch. Last August I went to California to meet my pal Melissa. We have been talking about it for a while and finally I could manage to go. We had a blast. Since I have never been to California before, I did travel around on my own as well but Melissa was on vacation and could spend time with me. The funny thing is that Cindy, a common pal of ours, also decided to come down and so we all met! Here is the pic!!
Meeting my penpals Melissa & Cindy in L.A., August 2011.
Are you currently looking for more penpals?
I won’t mind finding new like-minded friends, so write if you feel we will click!
Thank you Sabine! It was wonderful getting to know you more in-depth after all these years!