Saturday, 28 September 2013

Penpal of the Week !!

I was featured recently on a Penpal blog - here is my interview!

Please tell us about you!
Hi all, firstly I will introduce myself. My name is Jennifer but my friends and family often call me Jenny. I’m 38 years young and I have lived in Northern Ireland for most of my life. I wouldn’t call anywhere else home! I was born and grew up in the harbour town of Larne, on the east coast of N. Ireland. My ethnic origin is Hong Kong Chinese. My parents immigrated here from Hong Kong in the 1960′s. I grew up in a closely knit community. The people here in this country are renowned to be friendly – that is a reason why my parents chose to move here. My surname is Lau and it is the fourth most common surname in China. My family origin is that of ”Hakka”, which is a unique group of Chinese thought to be one of the earliest ”Han” settlers around the Yellow River area in China. I find genealogy very fascinating and anything to do with my Chinese background I always have a deep interest in.

Jenny 1
A “model” photo of myself when I was 21.

I work as a cashier in a busy wholesale company, I have been there just over a year. I work part time as my son is still at school. It suits me down to the ground, however I am a busy mummy also as I am trying to finish my degree via distance learning which I’d started way back in 1993 – I always regretted not finishing it so that is my aim. I thoroughly enjoy arts & crafts (check out my craft blog), Facebook & surfing the Internet, travelling (I have visited France many many times, Italy, Spain, England, Eire and west Africa), concerts (I have been to more than ten concerts so far – mostly pop including Britney Spears, Steps & also Oasis twice), socialising, fashion, books, music (I am into Cantopop, 80′s music, some dance and indie), driving and much, much more!! I guess because I’m a Gemini star sign I get bored quite easily thus I have that many interests! I love to write which explains my love for penpalling. My general blog is Jenny’s Kaleidoscope. I also have a French related blog – feel free to read it at The Canny Francophile. I have a deep fondness for France having lived there for one year in Strasbourg. I really found myself there so I was really happy to travel to Paris again recently – read about it in my French blog!

My son Ryan will be seven years old soon and I am engaged to my fiance Andrew of nine years.

Describe your personality in 10 words!
My personality I’d say is:

I am very organised (my sister seems to think that of me all the time , probably because we are complete opposites! For example, I tend to start my Christmas shopping in the springtime of each year whilst she leaves hers until December time!!)

I can be quite reserved (I was actually called shy at school but that was a long time ago) but it doesn’t show in my letters!

I can be rather impulsive – once I went into town to get my hair cut, my boyfriend was with me, I took a whim and decided to take a 2-hour train journey down to Dublin!!  We ended up staying overnight down there, my boyfriend will never let me forget that!

I am also funny, whimsical, loyal, spontaneous, honest, sincere – I do not like dishonesty of any form – that includes even if you take a single paper clip from work!

I am a conscientious person, at least, in most things that I do ( I do them thoroughly).

Jenny 3
The kids I played with when I was growing up in Larne.

How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start?  Tell us about your first penpal!
Well I first started at the age of 12. I’d joined a penpal club called the Clover Penpal Club. Then, one day I received a lovely letter out of the blue, from a Korean girl around the same age as me. She introduced herself and that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. She came from Ulsan, South Korea and I loved the way she decorated her letters the most, and the Korean words she taught me. She was the sweetest friend ever. I wrote to her for about 6-7 years then sadly, we sort of drifted apart. Since that friendship I’ve always had a fondness for all things Korea related! I still have her letters to this day! I believe a snailmail friend can be just as “special” as a real life friend!!

How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?
I currently have about 10 penpals that I write to on a regular basis. They are generally from Scotland, England, France, Sweden and Mexico. The Mexican girl, Isabelle whom I write is in fact deaf – I am always amazed at the clarity with which she writes her letters, which are always so interesting for me to read! She is very talented in painting. The French ones, Sandrine, and Stephanie are fairly new ones to me, we have only exchanged letters about 3- 6 times. Then I have my penpal Sandra from Scotland and we have been writing for about 9 years I think before my son was even born! Then, Tracy from England is my favourite long letter pal, she usually writes 8 to 9 long A4 pages each time!! So, with each penpal there is something I really like about them, the most important thing for me is that we “click”.

What are your favourite topics to discuss in letters?
I usually talk about what’s on my mind, I discuss everything under the sun actually but especially love talking not only about myself but also, my family, my hobbies, what I do in my daily life etc. I also make sure the letters I write are not one-sided and always include questions for my pal to reply to. Perhaps I generally also include some drawings, Chinese phrases, or sometimes decorate the letters in a nice way! Depends on my mood when I write the letter!

Jenny 4
Ryan having fun at the park. He loves it there.

What are you looking for in a penpal?
Someone who is sincere, who won’t be judgemental and who is honest also. I think that is a very important quality to have these days! I prefer someone that just doesn’t write two lines in their letter. Of course if pretty stationery is used that is a bonus! They should also be open-minded.

What do you like most about penpalling?
The buzz I get when a letter drops onto the doormat and you appreciate the time someone has put in to write a letter just for you. How special. The fact that you get to cherish the letter forever. I also get to choose whatever nice stationery I like to use! And there is no rush. You can take all the time in the world. In a way penpalling is a sort of pamper “me” time for yourself, isn’t it? And it makes you feel good. To me, it is very therapeutic as I have mental health issues, and writing my thoughts down helps me clarify things!

In what language (s) do you correspond?
Mainly English but I’ve written in French and Chinese in the past (with the help of a good dictionary I should say!). My memory isn’t as good as it used to be, compared to my university days!!

Jenny 5
My handwriting sample.

What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?
I love writing back as soon as possible, generally within five days of receiving a letter. That’s if I’m not busy. When I have less time the average would be about two to four weeks! When I’ve written one letter I generally put a cross on the front of the envelope so as to remind myself I have already replied to that particular one. I store my letters received in a special file. I usually write about two A4 pages in one letter if not more!

Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you’ve been penpalling?
Nothing strange or funny as such but I have two interesting stories:

I once put a penpal advert in a Chinese movie stars magazine to advertise for a penpal, and not long after doing so I received in the post an envelope stuffed full of around 50 photos of my favourite idol. They didn’t write their name or address so I couldn’t write back to thank them!

Also, years ago I had a penpal in China who happened to have the same favourite singer as I did. She replied to my advert in this magazine and we corresponded for a couple of years. I thought she was just wonderful as she always sent me photos of their fan club meetings, his birthday parties and so on, that she personally took herself. I was so envious yet so in awe of that whole experience! She emigrated to Australia years later and sadly we lost touch shortly after.

Have you met any of your penpals?
I have only ever met two of my penpals. One of them was called Evita, she came all the way over from Hong Kong to meet me in Belfast. I remember it was the summer of 2001, I was working full time then and everyday after work I’d meet up with her to have a meal at a restaurant. It was really nice! I took her to some nice restaurants in town. She stayed for about a week. I still keep in touch with her.

The second penpal that I met was Ji Young from Seoul (Korea) – she flew over to stay at a co-worker of her’s place who she befriended in Korea, and because I was only a few hours up north she came up by train to meet me. I let her stay at my house overnight, and I cooked her a typical British breakfast in the morning – bacon and eggs! I showed her around my local area, however I did make the mistake of wearing high-heeled boots that day and ended up with very sore feet afterwards. After she returned to Korea, she mentioned in one of her letters that she remembered me complaining about my feet (how embarrassing and I regret that as it mustn’t have left a very good impression on her!)

Are you currently looking for more penpals?
Yes I am – feel free to email me at