meeting my Finnish penpal

When I was in the 7th grade, I was on a penpal website and asked my Dad what country I should pick.  My Dad had been on a work trip to Finland before I was born and absolutely loved it; this is how I began writing my Finnish penpal Selja.  She introduced me to blogging on Diaryland and I was always impressed with her maturity and English abilities.  We went back and forth through letters, post cards, emails, and blogs over the years.  In high school, we lost touch, and I was always a little embarrassed to write her since I was the one that had stopped writing. 

When we moved into our house two years ago, my parents brought all of my childhood things.  Out of all of the things I sorted through and went through, I found a few stacks of our letters and decided to see if Selja was on facebook.  I thought about it every day for a week or two before I had the guts to add her.  She added me the next morning and told me that her and her boyfriend Marko had ironically just had a conversation about me.  

Ever since, we have been writing back and forth!  When she said that her and her boyfriend were coming to Florida, we were ecstatic and knew we had to meet them!

meeting my Finnish penpal: a fun trip to Florida describing my experience meeting my childhood penpal. Photos taken at Villa Vizcaya in Miami, Florida. | via The Spirited Violetmeeting my Finnish penpal: a fun trip to Florida describing my experience meeting my childhood penpal. Photos taken at Villa Vizcaya in Miami, Florida. | via The Spirited Violetmeeting my Finnish penpal: a fun trip to Florida describing my experience meeting my childhood penpal. Photos taken at Villa Vizcaya in Miami, Florida. | via The Spirited Violetmeeting my Finnish penpal: a fun trip to Florida describing my experience meeting my childhood penpal. Photos taken at Villa Vizcaya in Miami, Florida. | via The Spirited Violetmeeting my Finnish penpal: a fun trip to Florida describing my experience meeting my childhood penpal. Photos taken at Villa Vizcaya in Miami, Florida. | via The Spirited Violetmeeting my Finnish penpal: a fun trip to Florida describing my experience meeting my childhood penpal. Photos taken at Villa Vizcaya in Miami, Florida. | via The Spirited Violetmeeting my Finnish penpal: a fun trip to Florida describing my experience meeting my childhood penpal. Photos taken at Villa Vizcaya in Miami, Florida. | via The Spirited Violetmeeting my Finnish penpal: a fun trip to Florida describing my experience meeting my childhood penpal. Photos taken at Villa Vizcaya in Miami, Florida. | via The Spirited Violetmeeting my Finnish penpal: a fun trip to Florida describing my experience meeting my childhood penpal. Photos taken at Villa Vizcaya in Miami, Florida. | via The Spirited Violetmeeting my Finnish penpal: a fun trip to Florida describing my experience meeting my childhood penpal. Photos taken at Villa Vizcaya in Miami, Florida. | via The Spirited Violetmeeting my Finnish penpal: a fun trip to Florida describing my experience meeting my childhood penpal. Photos taken at Villa Vizcaya in Miami, Florida. | via The Spirited Violetmeeting my Finnish penpal: a fun trip to Florida describing my experience meeting my childhood penpal. Photos taken at Villa Vizcaya in Miami, Florida. | via The Spirited Violetmeeting my Finnish penpal: a fun trip to Florida describing my experience meeting my childhood penpal. Photos taken at Villa Vizcaya in Miami, Florida. | via The Spirited Violetmeeting my Finnish penpal: a fun trip to Florida describing my experience meeting my childhood penpal. Photos taken at Villa Vizcaya in Miami, Florida. | via The Spirited Violetmeeting my Finnish penpal: a fun trip to Florida describing my experience meeting my childhood penpal. Photos taken at Villa Vizcaya in Miami, Florida. | via The Spirited Violet

I knew meeting her and Marko had potential to either be very awkward or really amazing (it was definitely the second).  I imagined meeting them in a hotel lobby, but instead, their hotel only had Valet parking. I thought it very brave and very humorous that the first time they were meeting us they were hopping into our car; they handled the situation very gracefully!I was nervous to pick out activities for us so I made a list entirely too long and let them pick which things were of most interest.  We spent the first day together touring Villa Vizcaya …A HUGE historic home on the ocean.  The architecture of the home was amazing (no photos allowed on the inside) and every time it would begin raining, we would look at more rooms in the tour.  The house was so much bigger than I had initially realized it was and I would definitely recommend visiting!  These are photos from the gardens outside.

We took the self-guided tour and it was a great opportunity to leisurely stroll and talk.  It was a wonderful way to get to know them and definitely a must see on a trip to Miami!

  • How fun.

    • Thanks! ♥

    • I love this! I love meeting people for the first time that I’ve been writing with. So far, it’s been like we’ve known each other forever! I’m glad it went well 🙂 #authenticbloggers

      • I completely agree! I have really enjoyed meeting up with bloggers over the years. This was my first experience with a penpal and it felt very similar!

  • rosebud25

    You wear hats really well! St. Augustine (at least I think that’s where these were taken) is awesome but HOT! And I love the lizard picture. I have a similar pen pal story. Yuka lived across the street from me in 2nd grade and we did everything together. We agreed to write when her family moved to Canada and eventually back to Kyoto, Japan for her dad’s work, and we did up until high school when we both got incredibly busy. When I was living in Korea I decided to see what she was up to and looked her up on FB and she was incredibly happy I did. She had been working as an English teacher in Japan and was about to get married. She still teaches English lives with her husband and two young children in her hometown. I really enjoy seeing updates of her family today. Penpals rock.

    • These were in Miami, but Florida is SO DANG hot!! I think it is amazing that you kept in touch with Yuka…it sounds like you had a similarly awesome experience and it is really awesome you ended up going into the same field!!

  • That is so awesome! I had a childhood pen pal but I don’t know what ever happened with her or why we lost contact. How great that you were able to reconnect!

    • Facebook has really opened up reconnecting in a really unique way!! It was really a fun experience and I’m glad I was able to have it ♥

  • Rachel G

    What a cool adventure! Definitely took some courage on both sides, I’d say! I’m meeting a blog friend for the first time next week–and they’re actually staying in our house, so I’d called them pretty brave! 🙂

    • That is so exciting and also very brave!! I am excited for you!!

  • Joy

    Miami is so fun! And I agree, you wear hats very well! My mom is actually 100% Finnish and spoke it as a girl. I’m half Finnish (obviously haha) and VERY proud! That’s so cool you got to meet her. I hope you were able to hear her speak Finnish as it’s a beautiful language 🙂

    • That is so fun…what a small world!! I was able to hear her speak a little bit of Finnish when her mother called and it really was beautiful! I’m fully convinced that we need to go and visit her- we just need to save the money!!!

  • So fun that you got to meet her! I would never be brave enough to actually do anything like that! #introvertforlife

    • You totally would be!! I am always impressed with how funny and open you are in situations!

  • That’s so lovely that you were able to meet your pen pal! 🙂 Lovely photos, too!

    • Thanks Jessica! It was a fun experience! 🙂

  • How amazing that you were able to meet your childhood pen pal! That story is like the plot from a movie or something. 😛

    • It honestly felt like I was in a movie plot too- it was such a neat experience and she is such a genuinely nice person!

  • This is so cool! I had a penpal once in the 7th grade too! It was for a school project. I was friends with someone in Spain. I wish we had kept in touch. What website did you use! I am glad you got to meet her and had a wonderful time.

    • You should totally see if she is on facebook and try to reconnect- it would be fun! I have no idea what website I used since it was 16 years ago, but it was an awesome experience :)!

  • This is beyond cool! It’s hard enough to stay in touch with friends, never mind people you’ve never met before (until now of course). This is such an incredible experience and I’m glad it was awesome and not awkward!

    • I know, right!? I think keeping in touch is always a struggle. Social media has made it easier to stay updated on people lives, but not necessarily genuinely connect with them. It was a really lovely experience!

  • This is such a cool story! It’s great that you two had a chance to meet in person after all these years, especially since you were out of touch for so many of them. 🙂

    • It was a great opportunity! It has been fun writing back and forth to her for the last two years again and to be able to meet up in person!

  • This is an awesome story! I found this post on the Atlanta Bloggers FB page – glad we are able to connect. Do you remember the penpal website?? I would love to give this a try.

    • I haven’t a clue about the penpal website anymore since I first contacted her 16 years ago. The internet definitely felt like such a different place back then, huh? I am always happy to meet another Atlanta blogger! ♥

  • Wow how amazing! What an experience!

  • tinsel12

    Wow, what a cool post and amazing that you met your pen pal. This brings back memories of the days when I had a pen pal years ago.

    • It was such a great experience!! I’m happy I was able to meet her and her boyfriend!

  • This is such a cool story!! I love it!