After the time in Thailand and the 15 baht stamp prices to destinations outside of Thailand (approx 0,4€/$ and £0,35) I have been more or less inactive with Postcrossing. I really enjoyed the fact that Thailand was a rare country to … Continue reading
Thank all sorts of gods and deities – December is almost over! The month has been a nightmare thanks to everything happening at the same time. Loads of relationship shipwrecks (but somehow I was asked out for a date on Christmas Eve, … Continue reading
Hello all, it has been 3 years or so since my last blog post and the reason is simple – the blog was created for a blogging course in my university which I took just to get a couple of … Continue reading
I have been penpalling for over a decade but during the last couple of years I’ve started to realise and recognize what kind of pals I really want and to whom writing doesn’t feel like a chore but finishing the letter makes you feel a bit empty – just like when you say bye to a friend you don’t meet that often. You start waiting for the reply and feel happy to be able to write to him/her again.
What that means in a nutshell is that I adore letters that are personal, interesting and usually longer than just a couple of pages. The famous “click” is also a big plus. But there are also other things that I prefer having and there’s no way you could explain the “click” to a non penpaller. You just have it or you don’t and it’s usually best to drop those with whom you don’t have the “click” with.
Off to the list (I think) so that I won’t just ramble through the whole night.
1) Some similar interests
But NOT just letter writing, how awful could it be to write with a person who’s totally opposite of you and hates everything you like.. Sure it could work but I’d feel bad not to be able to talk about things I really like. For example I have quite many pals that are Moomin fans and it’s always a nice to talk about those cuddly characters and how the real home town of them is actually Porvoo, not Naantali ;D But like Jenny wrote in the comment section in my last post – No way I start sending Moomin stuff just because there’s a similarity, Moomin stuff is expensive, even in Finland and postage even more expensive.
Similar likes just mean that there is always something to talk about and you know that for example a Moomin/cat/nature/fantasy card every now and then could make your pal’s day 🙂
This could have been the first one to be written. Right now my pals need a LOT of patience if they want to write with me. I’ve taken almost a month off from letters due to school work and haven’t really written anything but some Christmas cards and postcrossing cards now and then when word document has stayed empty for over 10 minutes and my inspiration is nowhere to be found.
There is life outside of penpalling and when writing with me it’s good to have loads of patience as now and then I write back immediately, sometimes it can take months…………….
3) English skills
I can’t write with people who can barely write English – I wouldn’t understand that and believe me, I’ve tried. I tend to look for people with at least intermediate skills in English so that they can express themselves without that many problems and would understand my ramblings. 🙂
in a way that they have the time to spend on writing as much as comes naturally and not just a one or two sided letter now and then. Even pals who write to each other rather fast can easily write pages and pages. 🙂
5) Proper Introduction
If I’m contacted via Penpalling site, for example Interpals, I hope to receive a proper introduction message instead of just an empty message asking to be pals. I’ve also received emails with just
“Do you want to write with me?”
No introduction at all. No name, age, where the sender is from or any likes/dislikes/hobbies. How can you just say yes and start writing to the sender? You don’t walk to a stranger and just ask them to become your friend in everyday life, it just doesn’t work like that, so why should it work in penpalling world?
And (“unfortunately”) that’s all I require from my pals. I don’t care about the age – I have pals that are 17 years old and pals who are in their 40s. Why would I care about the age if we actually have something to write about? Also nationality doesn’t matter. When I first started writing with foreigners I tried to avoid Finns the best I could but now I absolutely adore having pals from Finland as well – the mail travels in a day or two and I can get the reply within the same week if I’m lucky and my pal has nothing better to do 😉
Some of my pals have kids but I don’t mind as that means I can talk as much about my furry little baby as they talk about their kids. 🙂 The good thing about my baby is that he never starts whining or throw a tantrum ;P And he’s sometimes writing with me 🙂
Whenever a pal of mine drinks tea it’s just a big advantage 😀 I’ve exchanges teas with pals many times and I usually enclose at least one tea bag with each letter I send to a pal who drinks tea, for example Emma and Estrella 🙂 And it’s always amazing to receive teas that I can’t get from Finland or try new teas I haven’t bought yet.. Or just get more of Lipton’s Green Tea Strawberry Cupcake tea x3
What kind of requirements you have/what are you looking for when you’re open for one or two new pals?
I might end up sounding like everything annoys me but I list nearly every (even little) thing that annoys me in this otherwise wonderful hobby. But do bear in mind that most of these I wrote down while having a really bad day and nearly everything annoyed me 🙂 And these aren’t just traits of other people that annoy me, this also includes the post offices.
But we could start with a couple of things that DON’T annoy me that much that usually seem to annoy most people (based on some chats I’ve seen)
1) Long time between letters
I’m also guilty of this so waiting doesn’t bother me that much.
2) Typed letters
Some people can’t stand typed letters – EVERYTHING has to be handwritten. I don’t mind typed letters – with some pals I actually ask them to type their letters as I can’t read their handwriting at all!
3) Complaining in letters
We all have our own lives and bad and unfair things are a part of that. I don’t mind reading complaints in letters as long as those aren’t about me 🙂
4) Not cancelled stamps
Within Finland this is like a jackpot! Free stamp for reuse! It’s the post office’s fault for not cancelling it! 🙂
But off to the things that annoy me (in no particular order)
1) Short letters
I mean 1 A4/A5 letters (mostly one sided). I know that first letters can be like this as the writer wants to be sure that she/he won’t spend too much time and effort for a person who might not write back. I don’t usually mind those and “forgive” it in 1st letters but after that…… My letters are normally (short ones) 3-4 A5 pages back and front and my handwriting isn’t gigantic so to get a 1 A5 page back for that isn’t fair or nice. I tend to give 1-2 second chances for my pals but after that I give up trying
2) Impersonal letters
I had this one pal who asked me to write the first letter, I wrote to her in May and received a reply around January. I wrote her 4 pages about myself and asked things from her. What I got was a short and brief story about her trip around the world (first I went there, then I went there and did this, then I went there etc.) and only 2 sentences about herself (name, age and what she’s studying). And she’s native English speaker. I sent her a short 1 page letter back asking her to write something about her and telling that I can’t get to know her with just her telling about her trip around the world. She replied, once again over 6 months later, and wrote one sided A4 pages with her without no questions. I sent her one last reply in June 2013 and I haven’t heard from her since (I was impersonal as well since I couldn’t get nearly anything out of her) so I guess she gave up.
3) Text language
Luckily for me I’ve managed to mostly avoid this. In Finnish I don’t mind the letters being written in spoken Finnish as written and spoken Finnish are two different things. But in English.. I write letters to get to know people and in a way brush up my English skills. Due to this I want properly written sentences instead of “u luk nyc”, “how r u?” etc. (the first one is an actual comment I’ve received in Facebook). I loathe texting language and as I don’t use it I hope my pals don’t use it either.
4) Not knowing the difference between words
I’m not native speaker but I’m forced to learn the difference between two/too, your/you’re, there/their/they’re so it annoys me to no end when actual native speakers mix up those, ESPECIALLY too/two. When the writer isn’t native speaker I do understand the mistakes if they’re still learning but natives? Come on! Those are such easy things to learn! 😦
I’ve loathed the word since I first heard it. I just hate it, can’t explain why, it’s just one of the words I loathe. Just the way it sounds and the fact that most people write it when they’re not even smiling or laughing gets me angry. Some people hate stupider words like “moist”, I hate lol.
I don’t swear (most of the time) and definitely try my best to avoid it while writing so when I get a letter with loads of F-bombs I’m immediately put off.
7) Postage prices (if this was Top 10 what annoys me THIS would be the first one)
FINLAND. The price for priority/airmail letter in early 2013 was 0,8€ not that bad but still a bit high as less than 6 months before that it was 0,75€ – the lowest it has been since 2009. Then on June 4th it was raised to 0,85€ (10 cents more than in Germany – yes, I know that Germany is a cheaper country than Finland but still, I have to be able to compare it to a country “like” Finland). Then during the late November when there was news about a possible strike with mail delivery we also got news that the prices are rising AGAIN in January 2014, this time with 15 cents to 1€ per airmail stamp. Until this the prices have risen with just 5 cents but now it’s 15 cents – 20 cent (25%) rise in just 6 months!! How is this fair?? And then there’s the fact that if your letter goes over the given weight limit by even 0,1g you have to pay the price that goes to the next limit – for example a 250,1g package and you have to pay the price as if you were sending a 500g package. And they mostly don’t listen to when the customer says “I want to send this the cheapest way possible, THANK YOU.”
8) Post offices that are located in stores/small kiosks
The people working don’t usually have ANY idea on how to handle the mail. I spent over 5 minutes this summer requesting a sheet of 1€ stamps (one sheet = 10×1€ stamps) but the clerk was trying to sell me the priority stamps (10×0,85€). It’s sad when you’re more informed about the mail than the clerk who tries to help you.
9) Mature penpallers giving advice to younger ones/telling people to drop a pal
This annoys me a lot as some people with over 20 years of experience in penpalling seem to be so much better than the younger ones/the ones with less experience and some write rules to their upcoming pals (time limits between letters, how long the letter MUST BE etc.) and most of all I hate it when there’s a talk about penpals and how one pal suddenly wrote a shorter letter than normally and people go and tell the person to drop the pal immediately without even knowing how close they might actually be and if there’s a good reason the letter is shorter than usually.
And some small things that annoy me when I’m in a hurry or having a bad day
1) Missing return address
From the envelope and letter. I have more than 5 pals, I can’t remember people’s addresses like that! I barely remember my own!
2) Please return stamps!
For reuse in most cases -If you can’t afford stamps maybe penpalling isn’t your hobby. But some ask those back for their own collections. Get a penpal from your own country for that or ask that from your pals who don’t collect stamps! I do agree to this “I get my stamps back while you get your stamps back” policy but so far my pal hasn’t kept her promise to return my stamps for my stamp collection.
3) Postage paid sticker/using the same stamp EVERY time
Postage paid sticker is usually from Asian countries, especially South Korea from where I’ve received over 30 letters and only one with actual stamps! The same stamp complain is usually for Germans, there are a couple of stamps that are used nearly ALL the time – 75 cent flower stamp or a cathedral stamp (also a bridge and a train stamp that came last/this year) – Finland can also be blamed as a couple of years ago the Northern light stamps were EVERYWHERE. I know that both of these countries publish new stamps MANY times a year but usually it’s just easiest to buy the one and same stamp set of 10 or 100 stamps….
Any pet peeves/annoyances you have that I wrote down or forgot/chose not to add to this? 🙂
After 12 years of penpalling I have SOME received letters and letter supplies to store. Probably even too much. As some blogs that I love to follow (mostly Finnish ones) have posted how they store their supplies so I chose to jump to the bandwagon and show how I store everything in my room. Please note that I have burnt some letters (and postcards) that I have received, mostly from people who wrote a letter or two (or UGLY postcrossing cards) and then decided not to write back anymore – I know some penpallers (or postcrossers) might see this nearly sacrilegious but I don’t have that much space to store letters in and I’m soon moving out and need to take everything with me so it’d be nice if half of my stuff wouldn’t be letters or postcards.
But to storage~
I store my letters in three different boxes.
Floral box for received letters (and postcards) that I haven’t replied to yet
A huge box I took from my last apartment – my ex flatmate used it to carry her laundry to the laundromat and back but left it to us when she moved to Austria. So I chose to use it to store my foreign (replied) letters in it.
White box for Finnish letters
Then I have two boxes for two different kind of postcards – postcards to be sent to penpals/via Postcrossing and a small tin box with beautiful postcards and unwritten cards from penpals I want to put to my postcard collections as written. Sometimes when I don’t have fitting postcards in my “to be sent” box I go to my favourite cards box and pick a card from there.
Another tin box (I received these as Christmas presents from my parents some years ago – for postcards that I’ve received. After nearly 700 received postcards via postcrossing those aren’t big enough ;))
For letters and postcard to be sent I have a small tissue holder that I liked and bought instead of those lovely “MAIL” holders that cost quite a lot 😦
For my stamps I have a small folder you get from Post Office if you order stamps online (I think I have at least 3 of those). And the stamp sheets I’ve promised for certain pals I keep separately and most of the time remember which sheet is for who 🙂
And last but not least my huge collection of different letter sets.. I have way too much of those but can I give those away? Most of the time no. Does it stop me from buying more and new ones? Unfortunately not.
My favourite letter sets that I haven’t even opened because I don’t want those to run out?
Have you gotten rid of some of the letters or postcards you’ve received (if yes, how)? Do you have some exact places where you store your supplies and/or received letters and postcards? 🙂 Do you have some letter set brands or characters that you really love and store unable to open and start using those? 🙂
I love to include all sorts of small surprises with my letters but it’s easiest with domestic mail in Finland. International mail travels with one stamp (0,85€ / 1.luokka (first class)) as long as the envelope is maximum 3cm thick and weighs less than 20g. In domestic mail the thickness is the same but the weight goes up to 50g (excluding Åland).
After the worldwide price of 0,85€ per one stamp the international postage rates go up depending whether the recipient lives within Europe (1,3€ until 50g and 1,8€ until 100g) and rest of the World (2€ until 50g and 4,2€ until 100g). Due to these rather expensive prices I tend to try and stay with the 20g.
To avoid the expensive prices of 50-100g letters I usually send anything and everything that’s flat and doesn’t weight too much, starting from photographs (that I haven’t made or sent in nearly a year now 😦 ) and going on from there 🙂
Most of the time I include bits and pieces of things that I like such as
Stickers, my favourite teas, postcards (be it birthday/Christmas or just a card that I really like and think my pal would like as well) and used stamps.
Now and then when I have money and can afford more expensive postages I do send some sweets and packages to my pals that can include anything from mugs to scarves and letter sets and books. My most expensive package in 2nd class mail has been nearly 20€ (1,4kg package to Germany, sent this autumn).
You can easily send your pal more than one or two tea bags as those usually weight 2-3g. Just tape those to the back of a postcard and you can easily avoid the envelope being thicker than 3cm! 🙂 I do that quite often and so far it has worked – no one has torn the postcard or tea bags so far 🙂
Stickers are easy to send if you have bigger envelope (in Finland the envelope can be bigger than A5 paper, I think even up to A4 and it doesn’t cost more to send as long as it weighs less than 20g and isn’t 3cm thick – correct me if I’m wrong) but you can also take those from the packages and just send the sticker sheet! And you can always cut the sticker sheet with scissors and send stickers from various sheets!
Then there are used stamps. Some people collect those (like me and a bunch of my penpals) while others like to use those for crafts, decorate letters with those or make handmade postcards! I usually send a bunch of used stamps to my pals who collect those – especially now that I have hundreds of doubles and stamps from DDR and North Korea! A great place to find used stamps are flea markets! This year I bought 0,5kg of stamps with just 7€! 🙂
Then there are postcards.
I usually prefer to send and receive postcards written but as some of my pals prefer those unwritten I usually go with the option my pal prefers.
Now that Christmas is coming, I have no time and I’m not crafty at all I’ve bought some Christmas cards from stores and I start sending most of those from the beginning of December – with letters or as those are, depending on has my pal sent me a letter or am I still waiting one from him/her 🙂
What do you usually send with letters or do you usually just mail the letter? 🙂
Been a while! Mostly because school has kept me busy so I haven’t had the time to write letters (only a couple of postcrossing cards and cards to my postcard pals now and then) so there wasn’t any time to take pictures for this post either. Luckily now I have a long weekend (4 days) and I’ve written all the needed assignments and essays so I can sit down, relax, make a cup of tea and start writing back to my pals who have been waiting for my reply for way too long!
Usually I start by cleaning up my desk as no matter what I do and how little I write it ALWAYS ends up looking like this while I’m writing:
So I started today with cleaning it up and started playing Todd (In The Shadows)’s Pop Song Reviews from blip.tv
and as it’s visible in the picture I made some tea (I usually need to go and refill my mug 2-10 times per letter, depending on how long the reply is). At the moment my favourite tea is Lipton’s Vanilla Caramel tea (which I found thanks to Mary Ihmemaassa blog or her Instagram, can’t remember which) and I drink black tea with milk but leave it out when drinking green or herbal teas.
After everything needed is done I reread a letter I’m replying to, in this case Maria’s letter from a couple of months ago.. I really hope I manage to get a lot of letter writing done this weekend!! X__x
and then starts my favourite part of letter writing:
looking up the address whenever my pal hasn’t written it on the envelope
Afterwards I go through the stamps unless I’ve promised to use a certain set for a pal who collects stamps like I do 🙂 In Maria’s case I get to choose the stamps myself 🙂 And as Christmas is coming soon I’ve even managed to get those new Christmas stamps!
And then I start decorating the envelope if it’s plain and not from one of those kawaii letter sets I have.
Then I go through what I could send to my pal with the letter. I tend to enclose something small with every letter I send. This time I ended up sending some postcards.
Most of the time I enclose tea bags, stickers, sweets or small tapes for my pals
Then I choose the letter paper I write the letter on, choose stickers and after all that I FINALLY start writing the letter!
Yes, writing one letter takes a LOT of time from me and I bet you can understand why 🙂 Each part of my letter writing habits is important! 🙂 And I usually need a little bit of inspiration to start writing as well 🙂
Do YOU have some habits without which you just can’t start writing a letter? 🙂
Someone asked me in my Postcrossing post whether there are similar sites to penpalling. That got me thinking and I thought to mention and write about the couple of sites I’ve found postcard pals and penpals from.
The most known site (in my experience) is Interpals. It’s the site from where I got my first foreign penpals and I still write with some of them. The site is really easy to use, just remember to write something in your profile so that fellow penpallers can learn something about you before they contact you 🙂 You wouldn’t like to contact someone with a blank profile either, would you?
And it’s best not to be put off by some relationship and similar messages from men around Africa and Middle East. Those are quite common if you’re online daily unless you choose to block men. There is an option to choose people who get to contact you (age range and genders) and if someone offends you, you can always block them. The men who use the site as a dating site are the biggest minus in my mind. And they are one of the reasons I don’t check the site that often anymore..
If there’s a penpalling site that’s almost like Postcrossing, in which you request an address and get one random address from anywhere in the world it’s Sendsomething. I heard about the site from various penpal blogs and after approximately a year I gave it a try. Sent a bunch of postcards and a couple of letters (mostly to USA as most of the users are from there) and received a letter from Netherlands and a postcard from USA. Unfortunately not that many people reply to the letters or postcards they get from strangers – I sent 15 items in total and got 2 replies and while I replied to the letter and postcard I got from strangers thanks to the site, I never heard from them again.
Here’s a sample from one profile I got
My current favourite penpal pages for the last year are the following:
Letternet is a penpalling site for Germans, though there are some people all around the world as well. You can register and get the page in English but before that the site is in German and for people who don’t speak any German (I can say hello, thank you, I love yo and some curse words) it can be a bit challenging to start.
You register, create a really weird profile – you describe what friendship means to you, what stress is for you and what your humour is like by choosing from a couple of pictures they offer you. You get a chance to upload a SMALL profile picture, write things such as your name, gender, birth year and choose your occupation, written languages and interests/hobbies from lists. You have NO space to write anything personal and you can’t even start to look for German pals before your address has been verified by sending you a letter with a confirmation code you have to write to the site before your profile is available for others. In my case the letter came within a week back in 2011 when I first started using the site.
The cons of the site are the facts that there are no possibilities to contact other people. You send them a request – requesting to become penpals and the first contact you have after the request is accepted is by sending each other letters. In some case the letters can be a bit of a let down as you have NO idea whether the person writes fluent English or not. And I’ve also gotten a letter written entirely in Finnish using translators and dictionary.. Let’s just say the letter wasn’t that deep or understandable. And for foreigners – you can ONLY send requests to Germans. So far I haven’t been able to visit ANY other profiles no matter how hard I’ve tried and one of my pals I got thanks to the site told me that she has penpals from all over Europe thanks to the site.
Penpal of the Week is a post blog dedicated for the art of penpalling. The Canadian blogger Julie posts penpal ads of her readers (the ads are always handwritten and sent to Julie and she scans those for the blog) and interviews of penpallers from all over the world.
The blog was quiet for the summer but during the last couple of weeks Julie has become more active once again and is posting a penpal ad nearly every day!! Penpallers over the age of 20, go and check if you’d find a new penpal from these lovely ladies that have sent ads to Julie!! 😉
I haven’t personally mailed any ads to Julie but I have found 3 really dear penpals of mine thanks to Julie’s blog (both of my American penpals!). Not every ad in there makes me want to contact the person and ask whether she’d like to start penpalling with me but it happens now and then and I usually have to battle in order NOT to send an email or letter to the person. I need to remind myself that I’m a bit behind on my letters and need to write those and keep my “to reply” pile as small as I can for months before I can even think about a new penpal!!
Hopefully the post was to any help for people looking for penpals – or people stuck on one penpalling site 🙂
While I’ve been a part of various penpal sites and penpal groups in Facebook I’ve read many MANY times that people don’t really care about postcard pals.
“There’s Postcrossing/tags/swaps if I want to send and receive postcards!”
“That’s just a waste of money!”
“You could never get close by just sending postcards./Letters are more personal.”
I’ve heard many excuses why people say it’s crap and why they won’t even give it a chance. Before I got contacted and asked whether I’d like to be postcard pals I didn’t even know that there could be a way to communicate just by sending postcards that it isn’t just “Hi, how are you? The weather in here is nice. School keeps me busy, bye!” I actually feel quite close to my postcard pals and we talk about everything that comes to mind.
My first postcard pals were from Netherlands, Thailand and China. From those three I only exchange postcards with the Chinese girl, the two others dropped me or just disappeared… A shame since I did exchange cards with the Dutch girl for 2 or 3 years, even during the time she was working as an au pair in Australia. We usually sent postcards in an envelope as I could easily fill 3 to 6 postcards while writing to her but with the other two I send the cards “naked” (written and stamped).
At the moment I have at least 9 active postcard pals from Great Britain, Malaysia, Japan, Russia, China, Hong Kong and Lithuania. I love all of them and sending and receiving cards from them usually makes my day. For example this Tuesday I received envelopes from Japanese and Russian pals.
LOVE the cards and the small extras I receive 🙂 And as the postcards are sent in envelopes there’s more space to write and to write in depth without the worry of someone else reading the back of the card 🙂 I don’t personally worry about these facts but some do..
I’m personally just as open about my feelings and experiences no matter whether the postcard is in an envelope or naked. Why worry over someone reading the back of the card? Thanks to Postcrossing there are thousands and thousands of postcards travelling all over the world all the time, not to mention soon coming Christmas season. No one has the time to read all the postcards so why worry too much? 🙂
Me and my other Japanese penpal send two cards at a time, naked, and talk about current events. For example in her latest postcards we talked about koyo and the 2020 Olympics that are going to be held in Tokyo. Why worry over the fact that someone might read the cards? Don’t write anything too personal to those if you don’t want to, it’s that simple 🙂
I personally prefer postcard pals over Postcrossing for many reasons, the tree most important reasons for me are…
1) You get to know the person a lot better and she/he won’t be just a stranger who sends you one card and that’s it.
2) You get cards that you actually like. Your pals get to know you and what you like and send cards accordingly to that. You can also agree what kind of cards you send to each other, for example my Japanese pals both send me illustrations by Japanese artists I love (SHU and Kaori Wakamatsu for example). In exchange I send whatever they want; Garfield, Looney Tunes or Moomin cards or even Linda Peltola‘s illustrations.
3) The stamps are AMAZING.
My pals know that I love stamps and they mostly use the prettiest/newest/rarest stamps they can find – and I do the same for them.
I’ve met most of my postcard pals in Postcrossing or Postcrossing forums but Lithuanian girl found me thanks to one of the swaps in Swap-bot over a year ago, the Malaysian pal I got thanks to the fact that we had been reading each others’ blogs for a while and one of the Japanese pals found me thanks to my swap ad in Lettersets.com.
Writing postcards is usually faster than writing a letter so I tend to reply to postcard pals a lot quicker – I can write the cards between classes, during a bus trip home or even before I go to bed. Letters take me hours and hours (sometimes days) to write depending on the length of the letter I’ve received but 2 postcards are ready to be sent in less than 30 minutes 🙂
I even exchange cards with my best friend since we live hundreds of kilometers apart! I send her empty cards that I want her to fill and send back to me and she sends me her empty cards to be filled 🙂 Both get exactly the cards we want to. And to be honest my “I NEED these cards written” pile is a lot bigger than my “postcards to send” 🙂 This because I LOVE and collect postcards but I want those to be written before I add those to my collections 🙂
Now I need to go and write a couple of postcards to my pals 🙂
Does anyone else have postcard pals or do you think it’s just a waste of money/stamps/pretty postcards? 🙂