It's exhausting because I have to either stay up around midnight or later, or get up really early to catch anyone online but it's so much fun so it doesn't matter.
Even though the personalities are so different, it seems the same topics keep coming up.. I guess it's the same for any interaction between two strangers, either online or in real life. We inevitably talk about: our city - where we live, who we live with, our jobs - what we do, do we like it, what hours do we work, travelling - do we like to travel, where have we been etc..
I've come across a huge broad spectrum of jobs and I don't know if the French stereotype is true or not (about being on holidays or strikes all the time, and flexible working conditions) but I almost laugh when I think back and realise I've encountered: 1) someone who got a week's vacation for seemingly no apparent reason, 2) someone who's on a 2-3 day strike, 3) someone with slightly unusual working hours (1-9pm), 4) someone who's not on vacation at the moment but wishes they were...
We've also talked about job satisfaction, and one's passion...
From personal experience I do think that country people tend to be nicer than the city (Paris) people.. I know this is a huge generalisation but having lived in big cities all my life I think it's fairly accurate. Some people have been so mega polite and sweet it's unbelievable and 1 or 2.. well they aren't exactly rude, but in comparison to the others just seem so... city-like. One person even commented to me he didn't like Parisiens because they seemed so stressé all the time.
I'm learning some useful expressions too.. and beginning to see some of them turn up more than once.. like the strange Quand même which seems to mean "Really!" or "...anyway" when used at the end of a sentence.
I read somewhere that French people don't like to greet each other the same way, and don't like to use the same word twice in a sentence. This has happened to me many times whereby if I said, "Salut" they would say "Bonjour" and if I said "Bonjour" they would say "Salut". Since I'm only talking to people around the same age as me, and since the internet is not exactly a formal situation, we always use the tu form with each other. The first time I didn't know which form to use (tu or vous) and just waited till the other person initiated but I read somewhere that it's common for people on the internet to just use tu with each other (especially with younger people), even though they are obviously strangers.
With one person we've only ever 'spoken' in English, and with another only in French but with the others it's a bit of half and half. I try to use French where possible but when it's taking me way too long to think out the sentence I just use English. I'm a very fast typer (we're talking more than 100wpm) and it's really challenging when my fingers can move this fast and my brain is struggling to keep up. So many times I've pressed *enter*
This TV5 video explains quand même, but the explanation is all in French.