1. Please tell us about you!
Olá (Portuguese "Hello"). In two months I’ll be 21 years old and I live in Portugal, my tiny but historical country. I’m currently living in an ugly city named Marco de Canaveses, which is pretty far from the beauty of the other cities of Portugal, where I study. I was born in Leiria, central Portugal, and lived almost all my life with my family in a small village close to the sea.
I’m finishing my studies in archaeology and I plan to attend university next year and to work. I have two female cats, Shiva Maria and Maori. I like to enjoy my freedom, learn about everything and to think deeply about many issues.
Here's a recent photo of me and my lovely Shiva Maria, which makes me proud that she's such a good model, different from her mummy :)
I’m very spiritual and really interested in oriental philosophies which transmit to me peace and harmony. I dream of the perfect world, and I fight for it doing my part, I’m an ecologist. To me simple things can be great when they are meaningful, and quality is better than quantity. I’m proud to know what it is to be human and to be trustful and when I am fighting for something I do my best. The most important things to me are peace, love (which can be associated to many things, not just with the person we love), union and respect!
2. Describe your personality in 10 words!
Genuine, honest, generous, friendly, very open-minded, spiritual, free, intuitive, observer, bookaholic.
This is my beloved Shiva Maria. Oh! She fell asleep when she was reading "The Europeans" by Henry James.
3. How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!
I started penpalling with foreign people when I was 13 years old, so almost for eight years. Once my French teacher asked to me and to my classmates to write a brief introcuction of ourselves, she wanted to send it to a French magazine dedicated to young students. Some months later I got a letter and felt a little confused because I didn’t knew why I was receiving a letter from France. I opened it and checked that it was from a girl from France who read my profile in that magazine and who liked it, she was young like me. Well, it was how I started, it was quite fun, who doesn’t remember the first letter? To me it was five times better because I wasn’t expecting it. We did it for a long time, then she moved to Lyon and we lost contact, I remember she told that she would go to study piano in the conservatory. Actually I remember almost everything she said in her letters, I can remember easily what everyone writes in their letters, which is really cool.
This is the little Maori, the cat teenager, who I can't take high quality photos of. This one I took at night, when she was preparing to sleep.
4. How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?
I have 14 penfriends, all girls, and no I don’t have anything against men, but now I don’t have anyone, actually I already met some nice guys, whom I enjoyed talking to a lot.
My penfriends are from Austria, Brazil, Finland, Germany (living in Finland), Iceland, Índia, Jamaica, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Puerto Rico, Slovenia, Taiwan, UK, US. They all mean a lot to me, some are old penfriends, the oldest are from almost five years ago, some aren’t so old but we match since the first moment and I feel incredibly happy when I see their letter inside my mailbox.
Some of my postcards. I have a collection and I adore to collect postcards with views of countries. Thanks to all of you!
5. What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?
Oh I don’t have any favorite topic, actually I’m pretty happy with my letters and the letters from my penfriends. We talk about everything, our past, childhood, the present, what we want to do in the future, our likes and dislikes, history of our countries, we debate ideas about actual issues, books, films, religion, politic, trips, so much to tell here.
You all must know that you can't tell everything about you in one single letter and when you meet someone you have a whole life to tell to that person, without forgetting what you are doing in your daily life, feelings, the state of the world. The issue never ends, like it also never ends in your daily life with your friends.
6. What are you looking for in a penpal?
Honesty firstly, and in second the same will to do penpalling that I have. I like people who are really interested to know me better, who care, who are genuine, someone in who I can trust to tell everything, because I offer the same. Tolerance.
7. What do you like the most about penpalling?
In fact everything around this "world" fascinates me a lot. Since the moment I see a letter inside my mailbox until the day I send my reply and I see the letter man choosing the amazing stamps we have. Isn’t it great to see something that someone from the other side of the world sent you with so much care, making you a special person? I appreciate everything, the handwriting, the colors, the envelope and its decorations, the texture, the stamps, every word and every dream we share. It’s a beautiful world that not everyone knows yet, e-mails can’t give us a half of that.
8. In what language(s) do you correspond?
Now only English and Portuguese, but I corresponded in French once and in Spanish. I would love to have that chance again, but I need to train it. English is a language of the world, the way to communicate with every nation. I always feel amazed to improve it, but I want to keep learning languages and improving others that I can’t use in daily life.
9. What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?
When I get a letter soon I feel the excitement to reply, looks like everything is fresh in my mind, so at the end of the day I sit calmly in my sofa and start writing.
On other days I can’t stay in the sofa, I have so much to answer and to talk about that I need something plain: a table, to write, write and write! Normally I need two days to answer one letter and if I have the chance I send it within one week, but sometimes my school schedule makes me busy and I need to wait for an opportunity, but of course I always try to be quicker, that’s what I like.
I don’t like so much those letters which took months to arrive or when I need more time to send it, but who never had problems? I totally understand those problems when I trust in people who already trusted in me, that’s friendship!
I always write with pen with black ink. Once a teacher told me that she needed to write in black because the blue color tends to disappear with time, I was young and never forgot it.
I have a book to write when I send or receive a letter from someone, to see if some letters got lost or if I am not forgetting to answer to someone. I also write what I sent to that person, I also have addresses there, we never know if something horrible happens and I don’t want to loose anything.
I always write the place from where I am writing.
10. Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you've been penpalling?
I’m remembering something which surprised me a lot and I couldn’t shut my mouth. I guess I can tell this here because it was many years ago. I had a penfriend when I was younger (she was young too), I remember she used to talk about her boyfriend, then she stopped writing for long months. One day I got a letter from her, she started writing: "I have a son". It shocked me a bit but it made me laugh! :D
11. Have you met any of your penpals?
Not yet, but soon I plan to meet my Austrian friend and to meet my friend from Puerto Rico in Spain.
A friend of mine took this one when I was asleep in a café, it was late, I don't usually sleep in cafés!
12. Are you currently looking for more penpals?
No, I’m fine with those I have. It would be fine if we could say "yes" to everyone, but we can forget something: time, care and money. I think when we have too many it’s a little bit harder to pay the same attention to all, to send some beautiful things and to care about all in the same way.
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us, Joana!
If you're interested in being featured as the Penpal of the Week on my blog, leave a comment with your email address and I'll contact you!