I’m leaving for Mexico in 2 days! So this is the last penpal interview before my holidays. Woohoo!
Please tell us about you!
Well, hello, again to some of you :D I think I might have done this kind of penpal interview twice before. But it’s always nice to be included again!
I’m Mikaela and I’m 24 years old. I’m living in a group of islands called Åland, which is an autonomy of Finland where we speak Swedish (2nd language in Finland, after Finnish of course), due to historical reasons I will not bore you with. We even have our own flag and stamps. I studied Film and Television at a University in west London, England for 3 years and graduated in July last year. So last year around this time I was in Charles Dickens land, and although I missed Finland, our food, sauna, a proper snowy winter and comfortable, spacious & warm houses (British houses are freezing!) it was strange to come back from the crowded city & suburb where I lived, and try to adjust myself to living in an island with only 28 000 other people.
Photos from my home. I love vintage cars :)
I’ve been unemployed for a few months but some job opportunities have come up and I might be finding myself at H&M or somewhere else in a new shopping centre in April. It’s not what I studied for, but to be honest, I did that for the experience!
I’m living with my Romanian pizzamaker boyfriend and our two cats in a flat, and I like to visit my parents, little brother (he’s not so little anymore though!) and two other cats who live in the countryside; I miss having a garden and I hope I’ll have my own house with a garden some day! To someone living in a big city, the whole of Åland must look like countryside…
I’m a major cat lover, I’ve been a fan of punk and death metal music since I was a teenager! Nowadays I’m just referring to myself as rock ‘n’ roll and my wardrobe is not only dominated by black clothes. I like to watch interesting, intelligent films (not something produced in Hollywood ten times a year) and I love American sitcoms!
I like to read both fiction and non-fiction Tudor history, especially books by Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir.
I don’t have many friends here, people tend to have different hobbies and I miss my friends in England a lot, and I often wish my lovely pen pals lived closer to me!
I take my camera everywhere and take hundreds of photos of everything! And I like cute stationery and stickers of course.
Describe your personality in 10 words!
Oh dear, I hate this question, ehm… it depends on my mood really: Booksmart, crazy, cynical, funny, honest, playful, reserved, serious, stubborn, sweet…
Autumn is my favourite season.
How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!
At first I was exchanging letters with a couple of classmates in 1st grade, when I was 7 or 8 years old. They probably wanted to write to me because I had the prettiest stationery! I sent a penpal ad to a magazine for Swedish-speaking schools in Finland and one day I got 4 letters from some Finnish-Swedish girls. We weren’t penpals for more than a couple of years but I got more and at one point I had 33, all within Finland, perhaps one or two from Sweden. When I was 18 I only had four left and decided to join InterPals to find international penpals to practise my English and I have found some amazing friends among them!
How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?
I have 15 active penpals, and two are on a break at the moment. They are from Finland, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Italy, Scotland, Slovakia, USA, Canada, Brazil and Hong Kong. I’ve definitely had pen pals from at least 15 other countries but that obviously didn’t work out. What I notice about all my penpals is that many are interested in becoming teachers or librarians, many have been bullied or not had many close friends. But they all have different personalities and it’s great that snail mail can bring us together! I also have a few in common with others.
Photos from my life in England, the one down in the left corner was taken in Edinburgh.
I used to go to Chinatown only to look at the amazing cakes in the windows!
What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?
I’m hoping I can discuss all sorts of topics with penpals; life in general. Men (or women), friends, school, work, experiences, travelling, our pets, books or film etc!
What are you looking for in a penpal?
I want someone who is ambitious, intelligent and mature, who can write long and interesting letters more than once or twice a year, so we can develop a friendship. It’s also nice if the person can understand jokes and ask me questions too, and show that they are interested in knowing things about me.
I had a penpal who asked me if it was her or my turn to write, because she had “lost my letter”, after I hadn’t heard from her for months although I did send her a couple of messages. I never, ever lose letters and I expect others to at least keep some kind of order when it comes to their penpalling hobby! This was a girl who kept getting new pen pals but couldn’t write back to the letters she got, she announced she would quit penpalling but two days later she was writing again, and she eventually stopped writing to everyone and let quite a lot of friends down. That is a big no-no and I don’t know why such fickle persons even get penpals in the first place.
I also can’t stand when people use too much slang and abbreviations; grammar and punctuation skills are appreciated!
What do you like the most about penpalling?
I’m quite reserved when it comes to showing my feelings and emotions (like a lot of Finnish people) so letter writing has always been good for me, because I can express my feelings when I write. I like to sit down and write on pretty stationery and write to people from all over the world, I like to get to know people from other cultures, and I like the excitement I feel whenever I find another letter for me in the morning!
In what language(s) do you correspond?
English, and I write to two penpals in Swedish at the moment. I should practise my Spanish, Russian and Italian though…!
What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?
I am not good at writing letters by my desk, I tend to be distracted. I used to prefer writing at my Uni library because it was quiet and peaceful and I could sit in a corner somewhere, I didn’t have a laptop, boyfriend or pets to distract me! I can write on the sofa in front of the TV but that’s not always a good idea. At the moment I think the kitchen table is a good location, also in my parents’ house. In the summer I can write outside by the table on the balcony or while I’m lying on a towel on the lawn!
Some of my letters are very long, it depends on the length of the letters I receive. I’ve written up to 20 A4 pages and 30 A5 pages, but I write shorter letters to most pen pals. I might have a lot to talk about sometimes, and sometimes I can’t think of much to say.
I try to write back within a few weeks, occasionally I write back within a few days. It has also taken me longer than that when I was busy at Uni and when motivation fails me. At least my pen pals know that I always write long & chatty letters, and I always let them know if there’s going to be a delay.
Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you’ve been penpalling?
I’ve got quite a few weird questions, like “Do you have forests in Åland?” (this from a Finnish girl who obviously should know 75% of our country is covered in forests). And “Have you had your female genital mutilated?”. Weirdest question ever, since most women in the western world are fortunate enough to never get near such a barbaric procedure.
I also hate when people collect money and they want me to send them coins and notes, but I don’t want to send 5 and 10€ notes, money that I need, in envelopes.
One of the very strange people I’ve met was the fickle Irish girl whom I told you about in question 6.
Favourite photos from Greece :)
Have you met any of your penpals?
I met two Finnish girls and a Swedish girl (twice) when they visited Åland when I was younger, but we are no longer pen pals sadly.
I have met my German “sister” Sabrina who is living in Finland several times; in her home, London, Helsinki, and here in Åland. In fact she and her boyfriend came to visit us last weekend! We share our love for cats and Star Trek! :)
I visited my penpal Sarah in Scotland last year, and I’ve met Alison from Hong Kong and Marta from Italy in London.
I’ve met another Finnish penpal, Michaela, in Helsinki at least three times and we’ll probably meet up again at some point!
My Chinese penpal Yinghe moved to London for her studies around the same time as me and we became friends, and hung out all the time for shopping, restaurants and sightseeing. Now she’s back in China and I don’t hear from her much but we do try to keep in touch and I miss our adventures in London a lot!
So it is five out of my active pen pals which is pretty impressive I think! I’ve also been lucky enough to meet some friends from InterPals in London and Helsinki.
Are you currently looking for more penpals?
I recently began writing to three new pen pals, and I know I will probably have less time for letters once I get a job but I have always managed to write back within a reasonable time. I have become quite picky when it comes to writing to people, but I don’t want this to scare anyone! I like to exchange a few messages or emails at first to see if we can get along before writing letters, but I have noticed that people’s letters can be completely different from how they write on the Internet. If someone thinks they match my “requests” and that they’d get along with me, then feel free to contact me! :)
Thank you Mikaela!
You’re lucky to live in such a gorgeous place!