This week, meet Jessie from the USA.
1. Please tell us about you!
Hi everyone! My name is Jessie and I'm a 22 year old girl from the suburbs of Chicago. I was born and raised in the same house for the past 22 years, so I consider myself to be very grounded and I love my roots. I live with my parents and my 20 year old brother Dan who just came back this summer from a year of training in the Marines - we're very proud of him! I also have two adorable cats: my 5 year old cat, Morgan, and a new 2 month old kitten, Chloe. We're all enjoying watching them run around the house together!
A big part of my life is my boyfriend Andrew whom I've dated for over 15 months now. We met at school and he's been my best friend ever since! We're planning on settling down together once we both graduate and can find jobs to support a life together.
I'm a senior student at a nearby university where I am studying English Literature and History. I am in the process of working on my two senior thesis papers (one for each major), which means as soon as I'm done, I can graduate in the spring! English and History have always been such passions of mine growing up, and I'm fortunate enough to be able to follow them in college. Right now I'm looking to apply to graduate school for next fall to begin studying Library Sciences and Archival Work - I want to be a librarian! ^_^
I'm also a musician and heavily involved in my school music program. I play the flute proficiently and have been studying the violin for a little over a year now. I also play flute in the school symphonic band where this year I placed second chair - quite an accomplishment I'm proud of as seeing as I've only been playing a year!
I live in a campus apartment during the school year, and this year I am living with some fellow flute players. We're all having a blast so far and I'm really enjoying the independence I didn't have in the dorms (also, the better food!).
I'm a natural born reader with a book fetish, and nothing makes me happier than a new book and a nice cup of tea (no coffee!). I've always been in love with getting mail, and I still race my family out to the mailbox so I can be the first to see what kind of mail we got that day. I'm slightly obsessed with tea and I have about 20 different bags of all sorts of tea that I consume on a regular basis. I'm a pretty unique girl that just loves the simple things in life :-)
This is me at the Harry Potter exhibit at the Science and Industry Museum over the summer. It's every fangirl's dream!
2. Describe your personality in 10 words!
I'm a loving person and extremely loyal to my friends and family because they mean the world to me. They are the backbone of my existence! I'm genuine and stay true to what I believe in. I can't stand the girls who have too much make-up, over-processed hair, and over-priced clothes. Give me a good pair of jeans and a T-shirt and I'm ready to go!
I would definitely say funny, because I love to crack jokes and make my friends laugh! I'm sociable and love to have a good time with my friends (this usually involves food of some sort :P). It takes a lot to earn and keep my trust, so the friends I do have mean the world to me.
I'm a little impatient sometimes, usually when driving (Illinois drivers are the worst!). I consider myself somewhat of a nature girl and I love to head to different forest preserves and parks with my boyfriend during the nice weather. I also garden a lot during the summer, I love to grow peas! Sometimes I'm a little timid, but I am very much learning to grow out of that and to be more assertive - I hate conflict! I'm definitely a procrastinator when it comes to getting things done, and sometimes I wonder how I've made it this far in college saving my papers until two days before they're due, haha. But overall, I consider myself to be a very real person with hopes and dreams just like the rest of us!
3. How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!
I had my first penpal when I was about 9 or 10. I used to get the "American Girl" magazine and at one point they ran an ad for penpals with other girls my age who read the magazine. You sent them a notecard with your name, address, etc, and they sent you back the notecard of another girl. My first penpal's name was Emily from Texas. Unfortunately at this point, I don't remember much about her because I was so young, but she definitely helped get me into penpalling, and I've been hooked ever since!
4. How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?
I have about eight regular penpals at the moment from Germany, Finland, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, The Netherlands, Switzerland, and Hungary. I also have two new penpals that I've just started to write to in the past few weeks. One is actually Lina from Sweden, who has already been featured in Penpal of the Week. We had corresponded a little earlier in the year, but our lives were just way too hectic at the moment and we kinda fell out of touch. But she just got a hold of me again, and we're going to give it another go and I'm excited to be talking to her again :-)
My other new penpal is a girl named Vesna from Luxemburg. We started talking about quills and ink and progressed into talks of Pride and Prejudice. My seven other penpals are all cherished friends that I've been corresponding with for a year or two now :-)
5. What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?
Oh, anything and everything that comes to mind! I love talking about anything from books, movies, school, seasons, family, my boyfriend, trips, friends, music, culture, language, religion, or anything else that comes to mind! There's really no taboo subject with me; I would like to consider myself a very open person as long as the conversation can remain respectful! I love talking about the differences among our countries, and learning how people's lives are different from mine.
6. What are you looking for in a penpal?
First and foremost I am looking for people who are down to earth and genuine. I have come across so many ads and messages where everything is a form letter and nobody really cares to get to know you. I would love to find people that really cherish penpalling as an art and a friendship, and who can write more than about their trip to Walmart (yes, I have had someone write to me about that before!). I think it's ridiculous to put a page limit on what I want a penpal to write; all I ask is for more than one page, because anything less than that is a waste of postage in my opinion! Basically, I am just looking for a true friend and a fellow soul I can converse with :-)
7. What do you like the most about penpalling?
I love the feeling of interconnectedness one gets from conversing with people from all over the world. In America we really don't learn much about other countries, so penpalling gives me the opportunity to learn about other countries and ways of life, sometimes some that are quite different from my own. How many people our age can say that they have friends all over the world? :-) Also, I am such a huge, huge fan of receiving any sort of mail in my mailbox, so penpalling is a great way to generate a little action for my little mailbox!
8. In what language(s) do you correspond?
English and German. English is my mother tongue and is the main language I correspond in. I don't "demand" perfect English from my penpals because hey, my English is never perfect and I don't expect someone whose English is their second language to be perfect, either. I've studied German for a little over a year now and would love to find someone willing to write me in German and put up with my horrendous German grammar. This is another reason why I don't mind helping people with their English - I know what it's like trying to learn another language!
This is Dawn, my grandmother's horse. She lives on a farm up in the country that I've always loved to visit!
9. What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?
There really is no rhyme or reason to my letter writing! I carry around my letters and stationary in a white binder so I can take it anywhere with me. I've been known to write at my desk, on the couch, at work, outside, in the car, anywhere! I always try to write back as soon as humanly possible, but sometimes that may take a few weeks when I'm back at school. Being a senior this year I've got thesis classes, rehearsals, work, and tons of other obligations to fulfill and sometimes there just aren't enough hours in a day for me to be able to write as much as I would like to. I do try to let my penpals know if life is getting busy, and I hope that people are flexible and understand that life, school, and work can sometimes just get in the way!
10. Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you've been penpalling?
I belong to the InterPals website, so I always get a lot of creepy, pointless messages from guys who don't bother to read my profile. A couple years ago when I first started to penpal regularly, I started talking to one guy who turned out to be a total internet stalker. I had to delete all my accounts, change my email, file a police report, and everything! It was pretty scary! Since then I really don't talk to guys at all on InterPals anymore, or it takes a lot of time for me to trust that they're not stalkers, either!
11. Have you met any of your penpals?
I unfortunately have not met any of my penpals. About two years ago now I went on a three week trip to Europe with school, and one of the cities we visited was Munich, Germany. One of my oldest penpals lives in Stuttgart, but it just never worked out that we could meet. Oh well! I'll have to make a return trip someday :-)
12. Are you currently looking for more penpals?
Of course! Anyone interested can find me at my InterPals profile, which will be the best way to get a hold of me. Also, you can email me at chasingredbird78 [at] yahoo [dot] com. I don't feel comfortable putting my regular email online, so this is an older one that I check every so often - but never fear, I'll get your email sooner or later!
All I really want to ask is that you be flexible with the time it takes to reply to a letter. Having a hectic school schedule, I always try to write as soon as I can, but life does get in the way sometimes, no?
Thank you for giving me the chance to be featured here, Julie! I hope this allows me to meet some other great penpallers on here :-)
You're welcome, Jessie!
If any of you wonderful penpallers would like to be featured on my blog as Penpal of the Week, just reply to this post with your email address. Thanks!