I can’t really remember when and how I started to love to write. Back then in primary, I love to write a letter and sent it to the kids magazine. Sometimes, the magazine put the child actors or singers agency address so you can write to them, and I did that as well.
I also remember when I was 5/6 years old, I finished reading my whole fairy tale book and got bored of it, my Dad approached me and said “Let’s write a letter to the British embassy, they will send you some books.”
Growing up in a lot of cities and countries, it was hard to maintain a long lasting friendship. Sometimes, I barely knew my classmates and we just had to move, again.
Anyway, I signed myself up on the site called interpals to find a friend to talk to in some different languages I speak. I started to learned Spanish in 2014 and I feel the need to refresh my Dutch, French, German and Arabic. It was a lot to take in, but I pushed myself to it.
The website itself promote an international penpals environment, where you could literally talk to strangers to improve your language skills talking to the native speakers and it’s free of charge to make an account on it. You simply put a profile picture and write down all your basics information that strangers needs to know. It is compulsory to write your language abilities and how good you’re on it, whether you’re learning from the scratch or know the basics of it. So the strangers whose are native speakers could give you the guidance.
I was living in Malaysia and about to move back to Indonesia. I started to talk to people on it and I remember 3 guys were talking to me about moving to Indonesia.
First one was Alexander, an Australian guy my age, 21 at that time, that was about to move to Bali. Well I was conceived (made) in Bali (I wasn’t born there tho, *sigh*) and has been living in Bali since I was 25 days old for 9 years before my Dad moving to Pattaya, Thailand. I got a fam marrying Balinese, so a trip all the way down there was a regular thing for me, so he came to a right person asking me about it, as I knew a lot mate.
Second one was Clark, an American guy that was about to move to Semarang to teach in an international school down there. Well, I haven’t been there that time, so I knew nothing about the city and stuff, but I could tell him another aspects of what to expect living in Indonesia.
Third one was a Dutch guy named Jan. He was gonna come to Bandung to be an exchange student in ITB. Bingo, I was about to move back to Bandung. So of course I knew a loooooottt about the city. And Jan was learning Bahasa Indonesia for survival. I’m no expert at it but I could speak in slang ways that is gonna be helpful for anyone living in Indonesia. I mean, even the Indonesians don’t speak formal on their daily life, they use it for an official and some school learning purposes only.
So did I meet them in person? I did, one intentional meeting and the other two were accidental, in a very funny way.
The first one I met was Clark, I went to Bali for a New Years 2015 holiday with my other friend Debby. Clark was planning to go there as well. So we made an impromptu plan to go to Gili islands. When I told her our trip was gonna be with a stranger I know from the website she was like “what the?” She was being cautious, but of course she was supportive of it. Anyway, Clark was relatively quiet compared to me, but we worked out pretty well since the start so no awkward thing, nothing. The holiday was one to remember forever, and guess what? we are still friends and it wasn’t our only holiday together!
Second one I met was Jan, unintentionally. I saw him at the movies. I have a great pair of eyes that could easily recognise someone from their photo. I smiled at him and he probably weirded out because ‘who the hell this chick is? why is she smiling at me?’ type of way. He was with bunch of people so I don’t wanna barge in. I texted him on my way home and voila, it was really him. But school was pretty busy for me so every time we made plan they never actually matched.
Third one was Alexander, this was the most hilarious one. I shouldn’t say met, but more to I saw him. I was talking to Alexander for two years or so, before he moved to Bali and when he was actually in Bali. I think I was not in Indonesia much during those period of time, exchange students, summer school, internship, and so on. Our conversation dries up so we only talk twice/three times a year after that, on each others birthday and xmas. So summer 2017, I went to Bali with my coworker, Nikita, as a farewell celebrating her resign. We went to a place called La Favela in Bali and party all night, until I saw a familiar face on the bridge talking to a lady. I told Nik ‘I think I know that guy, he looks so familiar but couldn’t remember who or where we met’. After 10 minutes paying attention to him from afar, like a total creep, I grabbed my phone and find Alex’s whatsapp to check the profile picture and gotcha. Nik and I left the place around 3am because we were hungry. We sat at Maccas, and I texted Alex if he was at La Favela earlier tonight, he replied straight away that he was. And he was like ‘why didn’t you come and talk to me?’ He was talking to one lady, I assumed it was his date so I didn’t bother. Turned out it was his classmates back in the US coming to visit him. He was gonna come to see us at Maccas but after some food we were so sleepy, and we got a flight to catch in the morning so we didn’t wait and just go back to the hotel.
There were couple people I met from InterPals as well in Sydney, I’ll make sure I share in another post. What about you guys? Have you ever tried had some penpals? or maybe trying the website?