1. Please tell us about you!
My name is Lina and I turned 26 years old in May this year. I live in the South of Sweden and I've lived here for about 4 years now. I have my roots up North and my family still lives up there (about 1200 kms from where I live now). The reason for me moving here was love. Love can make you do stupid things! :) But I guess it was a good thing that I moved here since me and my boyfriend have a good thing going on. We've been together for about 5 years now and we have a beautiful daughter named Nema who's 3½ years old. I never thought I would be a mum at the age of 22, but sometimes life doesn't turn out as planned.
Right now I'm on a sick leave and I've been on one for about two years now. I started studies to become a social worker in January 2007 and after only one semester I got sick with something called rheumatism and I had to take a break from school. I might go back to school some day in the future, but not now. Now I want to work and earn some money so that I can afford to travel and see my family more often and also travel some (I haven't been abroad in about 5 years now, but I used to do it quite a lot before that).
2. Describe your personality in 10 words!
Gosh, such a hard question to answer. But I'll give it my best. I think I would decribe myself as: stubborn (and my daughter is growing up to be just like me I'm afraid!), a bookoholic (I love to read. I most often read chick lit or crime stories, but I try to read everything at least once! :), open minded (I don't want people to judge me, and that's why I don't judge people I meet), grown up (I've never been one of those who like to goof around and I've all my life felt a lot older than I really am. And I guess me feeling older than I am is the reason why I fell in love with a man 11 years older than me.), metal-lover (I'm a heavy metal chick but don't look like one), honest (Sure, I can tell a white lie from time to time, but I never say things to people that I don't mean), social but anti social (I can enjoy to meet up with friends or have friends over for dinner, but from time to time I can also enjoy to spend time on my own or just with my little family), strong minded (I always stand for what I believe and I almost always have an opinion and I'm always up for a good discussion where I can fight for it), impatient (I always want things to happen right away).
3. How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!
I've been writing letters for about 16 years now. It was such a long time ago that I almost can't remember how was my first penpal and how we found each other. But I think I found my first penpal through a magazine that was really popular when I was a child. My first penpal's name was Lisette and she was one year younger than me. Later on I also started writing with a friend of hers, Hanna was her name (and we also met a couple of years later). We don't really keep in touch nowadays, but Hanna and I write text messages to each other once in a while.
4. How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?
I'm not sure how many penpals I have right now (since there are a few that haven't written their first letter to me and some who haven't written me back). But I guess I have around 30 penpals and they are from all over the world (Sweden, Finland, the UK, Germany, Italy, Norway, Austria, Switzerland, Australia, Poland, Iceland, Canada, Spain, etc).
I think it's fascinating how people often have a few countries where you find your "best penpals" in (the penpals that you often get along with the best and enjoy writing letters to). My fave countries when it comes to penpals are Germany, the UK and Italy (that's the countries where I've found myself the greatest penpals! <3).
5. What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?
I enjoy writing about pretty much everything. I know I must sound boring for me saying so, but that's the truth. Even if my penpals write about something that I know pretty much nothing about -well, then I see that as an opportunity to learn. And if I/my penpal has a problem -then that's the most important thing right then. And if we end up having a discussion with very different thoughts -maybe we can widen our views through listening to each other? So I see every topic as a chance to learn and a way to get to know each other better. And I think that's why I can't say that I have a favorite topic, I really do enjoy writing about everything that comes my way.
My daughter Nema and I. Taken in August 2006. I like how the light falls in this pic (and I guess what makes me like it so much is that it happened by coincidence)
6. What are you looking for in a penpal?
A friend! :D But besides that... hm.. I prefer penpals who have been writing letters for a while, just because they know that you have to give it your all to manage to stay friends for a long time.
The only thing I have written in stone is that I only want female penpals. I just find it a bit hard to open up to male penpals. But besides only wanting female penpals... I like penpals who write medium/long letters, who don't always take 4 months to write me back (I'm not saying that I need my penpals to write me back right away, but how can you get to know each other on a deeper level if you only hear from each other only twice a year?). And I guess that's pretty much the only "requests" I have.
I've written letters to people who are younger and older than me, who have the same interests as me and some who don't, etc -and I've found that how old you are, how your life looks like and what you find interesting are things that don't matter really as long as you're both looking for the same thing in a penpal.
7. What do you like the most about penpalling?
I like the fact that through letters you can get to know another person that I would never else have met. A conversation a la snailmail is very deep, honest and you tell your penpal a lot more than you would have told a person in real life in that short period of time. I truly believe that you can get friends for life through writing letters. It's just so much easier to speak freely when you're writing. And the thought of sharing your life, your ups and downs and having a friend next to you all the way, even if it's just through letters, that's just awesome.
I love this pic so much. It was taken on Christmas Eve 2007. Nema was so tired and fell asleep in my arms just as Donald Duck started (it's a tradition in Sweden and pretty much everyone sees the same Donald Duck program every year, I've seen it every year since I was born, except for one year when my family was abroad). Nema was so disappointed when she woke up.
8. In what language(s) do you correspond?
I can only write in English and in Swedish. But I can understand Danish and Norwegian (since Swedish, Norwegian and Danish are very close in both writing and speaking).
9. What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?
I write most letters on our sofa in the livingroom. And I almost always write my letters during nights having the TV on in the background.
I try to write back as soon as I can, but sometimes life comes in my way. But I try to write back within a month. And I always try to write a whole letter at once. I'm not sure why I do this, but my letters seem to turn out a lot better when I write them all at once (or that's what I imagine ;).
I try to write back to letters in the order that I get them, but sometimes I get some letters that I just want to write back to right away and then I have to make an exception. The length of my letters often depends on the penpal I'm writing to... but I usually write about 4 A5 pages back and front.
I always save the letters I get, it's nice to be able to go back and read what a penpal wrote 1-2-3 years ago! After writing a letter I always write down in my note book (a calendar where I write short notes of what I've done each day) so that I don't lose track of what I've told and not (I guess this would be a good time for me to admit that my momory sucks sometimes! :p).
10. Have you met any of your penpals?
I have met a few of my penpals (all from Sweden). But I guess that there are three penpals that I've met more than once and who mean the most to me:
-The first time I met Sofia (that I started writing to when I was about 15 years old) I went to Ireland to visit her (where she studied at the time). I was 19 years old. We hadn't even spoken on the phone before I went there, so I didn't know what to expect. During my first 24 hours there I wondered if I was mad for going there because we were SO different and she didn't even have a bed for me to sleep in. But things got better after the first day and we ended up having a great time together. When she moved back to Sweden and she was going to school in the same town as I lived in, we actully shared an apartment for a while :)
-I started writing to this girl named Jessica when I was around 14 years old and we still write letters to each other. Jessica is the penpal that I've been writing to the longest and we are more like friends who write to each other than penpals who share letters. We've met a couple of times and we also went to Italy (Sicily) together in 2004. I think it's kind of cool to have a penpal that you sort of have grown up with.
My penpal Jessica (I don't have any other pic of her, and this one doesn't show her real self.
In real life she looks just like a doll -no kidding!)
In real life she looks just like a doll -no kidding!)
- The last penpal that I'm going to talk about is Lollo (or Lovisa as her real name is). I've met her twice. She last came to visit me in June 2008 and we're planning a trip just as we speak for me to go up and visit her as well. The first time we met she came to Umeå (where I used to live) to visit me. That weekend me and all the three girls I've talked about in this section decided to meet up. We had a fun weekend together and I hate the fact that we haven't been able to meet all at once since then. That weekend I was feeling a bit blah because I felt so swollen around my waist. And Jessica, Lollo and Fia all asked me if I didn't think that I could be pregnant. And I said "nooooo, no way"... But the thing is that I really was three months pregnant at the time and we all laugh about that now.
11. Are you currently looking for more penpals?
Sure, why not?! I can never say no to a penpal who is as serious as me about penpalling! :p
But I can't take on many more penpals since I want to have enough time to write everyone a nice and long letter back.
Thank you for this great interview, Lina!
If you'd like to be featured on my blog as the Penpal of the Week, just reply to this post and give me your email address!