The Beginning.

Who am I?

Let’s all agree to use my 2nd name Kristiina as I’m sick and tired of people misspelling and/or mispronouncing my first name – been experiencing it for as long as I can remember and besides Kristiina sounds prettier! 🙂 I’m 22 years old tourism student from the 2nd oldest town of Finland – Porvoo (50km away from our capital Helsinki).
More can be found from About Me.

Why the name? Where does it come from?

Letters, Postcards and a Cup of Tea – the three most important things in my free time. I can’t wake up or even think about eating breakfast without a proper cup of black tea (with a little bit of milk poured in). Letters and postcards come a bit later as our mail lady tends to come around noon and I’m often waiting for her next to our small mailbox. I’ve been into letter writing since I was 10 (way back in 2001) so my letter writing hobby is coming to its teenage years while my Postcrossing “career” is only 4 years old.

How did I start letter writing?

I can’t remember how I wrote my first letter, when I wrote it and to which kind of paper but I do remember that I got my first proper letter after a week at a summer cottage. We came back home and on my desk was a Winnie the Pooh letter waiting for me:

Cancellation stamp states July 20th 2001 - 3 days before my 10th birthday.

Cancellation stamp is dated July 20th 2001 – 3 days before my 10th birthday.

I wrote the first letter to her as I got her address on one of those children’s crossword magazines.
I can still remember how thrilled I was to read the letter and I practically ran to my daddy telling him how my penpal likes S Club 7 just like I did! (it seems so long ago that they had their own tv-show and “made” music)
It was the letter that started this craziness with not enough space to store all the letters I’ve received and way too much space taken up by stickers, postcards and letter papers.
Too bad the pen friendship with K only lasted for about a year before she dropped me without a proper note and I moved on to longer lasting pals with whom I still write. One of my pals has written with me since 2004 so we’ve practically grown together! And yes, I still store some of the letters from people I don’t write with anymore. The letters have sentimental value.

How did I start Postcrossing?

A classmate back in Upper Secondary School (2009) told me how he had penpals from all over the world, most importantly from Japan which was my favourite country EVER back then (things have changed since then, thank god!). And as I got jealous I asked why did he get so much mail from abroad while all my mail came from within Finland. He gave me links to both postcrossing and interpals (more about it later on) and I got hooked after I got the 5 first addresses and sent the cards to Netherlands, Germany, USA, Poland and Malaysia. Now (September 10th 2013) I’ve sent over 610 cards all over the world and as Finland got its official postcrossing stamp just yesterday it seems I won’t be quitting anytime soon!

Thank you for checking the blog and if you’re not too busy I’d like to hear how you’ve started penpalling and/or postcrossing 🙂 Would appreciate the share as well 😉

-Kristiina

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29 thoughts on “The Beginning.

  1. Aw, the first letter is endearing! I’ve been meaning to try out postcrossing for awhile now, but still haven’t really gotten around to it… I’m just worried; where would I keep all my hundreds and hundreds of cards?! :—-D Where do they all fit!! P.S. I liked S Club 7 too… ❤

    • Takes a while to get to the hundreds and hundreds of postcards ;D
      But I’d REALLY recommend starting or at least trying Postcrossing<3 It's addicting and it's always so nice (and nerve wrecking) waiting to see when your postcards arrive and from where and when you get your next postcard 😉
      But about the space problem.. I currently keep those in various boxes and bags waiting to be sorted to photo books :DD
      I really miss the tv-series of S Club 7 ❤

  2. I don’t remember the first letter that I got, but I remember the first one that I sent! 😀
    I used this bee-paper that was colourful and super fun and I was in 3rd grade back then, our whole class actually sent letters to this friendship school at Switzerland and this girl Sara picked my letter and answered to me.. Too bad we stopped writing with her after couple of letters 😦
    WE NEED AN S CLUB 7 GROUP OR SOMETHING, because the most awesome band and omg childhood<3

    • I was always so bitter than I never got to experience that letter exchange between classes!! My dad got his dearest penpal that way when he was 10 or 11 and they are still great friends!!
      But it’s a bummer that (from what I’ve heard) most of the penpal friendships that start with class to class don’t last :/
      Don’t bring back the boy bands but S Club 7!! : DD

  3. Lovely introduction post! (especially the first letter is awesome!) One of my best friends from Belgium used to be really active in post crossing too, I just never really found the time to try it myself too(maybe someday ;)) The part about Japan made me smile, I used to be like that(until 2009 actually!) too haha

    • Thank you~ 🙂 I had to dug a bit to find the letter 😀
      And you really should try Postcrossing! Last year I got my Vietnamese flatmate to try postcrossing and she liked it though I think she quit the project after she moved 🙂
      I seriously hate that past part of me! There’s so much more to see than just Japan! 😀 Luckily I’m not that big of a Japan geek anymore though I do love receiving tea from there ;P

      • There’s so many things I still want to try, I’ll never get to the end of it, but it is definitely on my list!! 🙂
        haha awh, why hate it? I do agree that it’s a past I’ve left behind, but I would never hate it because it did shape me into the person I am today 🙂 Wouldn’t have had it any other way!

      • The reasons why I liked Japan were mostly on products that came out from there and the anime/manga/videogame/cosplay related things.. “OMG if this comes from Japan I really want to move there”. No respect or in a way will to learn about the country in itself.. That’s mostly the reason I hate that part of me 🙂 There’s so much more than just some silly products that come out of the country! Finland isn’t just Nokia, Angry Birds, Santa and Moomins so why would Japan be all about anime, manga, cosplay, videogames and gyaru/lolita styles 😀

  4. That letter is really cute. 🙂 I wonder what was the first letter I wrote (or postcard), I remember writing letters to friends in school, but I was already like 13 or 14 back then. Not sure what I wrote before then…
    I loved S Club 7 too, I still have their CD somewhere. 🙂 And I liked (and still do) Pokemon a lot 🙂

    • It is! 😀 Some people have received these quite adorable letters when they were 7-9 but my first proper letter came from a 12 year old (could you by the way understand everything?) so it really looked like a letter instead of a note 🙂
      I really wish I could see some of my first letters! 🙂
      Oh my god!! I want that CD! xD Need to go and check amazon or ebay for one 😉 I was a HUGE Pokémon fan back then and I evem had one of the second generation games.. And oh how I had to correct my pal that it’s Butterfree, not Butterfly 😉

      • I just remember that I wrote a short story when I was like 10…it’s cute to look at such things again after some time..
        Pity you don’t have any of your first letters to look at…

        And to my surprise I understood almost everything in that letter you got 🙂

        I have all of the pokemon games, at least all those for Nintendo DS…:) the newest ones coming out now are for Nintendo 3DS..and I don’t have that yet…
        True…it’s Butterfree, not Butterfly, lol…something seemed weird with that name, but I couldn’t figure out what. In German the pokemon have different names (almost all of them at least…with some exceptions like Pikachu)

      • It is! 🙂 But I think I have notebooks from 1st-2nd grade when all we wrote during Finnish classes were various stories.. I can still remember my horrible first try at storytelling 😀 It was 5 sentences about winter 😀
        Nice to hear that you understood almost everything 😀 With a little bit more studying you’ll might end up writing your own letters in Finnish! 😉
        Aww!! I never got to play any other Pokémon games than the first 2 generations.. But my first game was the first one in which you could decide the gender of your character.. Crystal I think? And I LOVED it so much<3 I got Mew, all the original starter monsters and nearly all the other Pokémons<3 And I've heard SO much about the newer games as some of my friends still play those 😉 Too bad I can't as we only have Gameboy colour (with Pikachu and Pichu on it :D)
        You have different names in there? No wonder some Pokecards I've seen looked weird! 😀 In Finland we use the English names, just mostly pronounce those how Finns would 😉

      • The oldest letter I found (so far) is dated from 1998..but I was already 15 back then…couldn’t find older letters so far, maybe I only wrote like postcards to the grandparents or uncle/aunt back then…might have to ask my parents. 🙂
        5 sentences about winter, that was probably cute 🙂
        Actually I’ve already started to write in Finnish…probably my attempts to write are full of mistakes though, lol. I’m still alive though, so I guess my attempts aren’t that bad, lol. I bet some of my Finnish friends might have a good laugh from time to time though when they read my bad attempts at Finnish…
        I have all the Pokemom games, from red/blue/yellow to the newest 2 (so far) black 2 and white 2, I think. Not sure when you first could decide about the character, could be Crystal..I just know that in red and blue you still had to play as a boy, lol.
        Yeah, Butterfree for example is called Smettbo here, Bulbasaur is Bisasam, Charmander is Glumanda, Squirtle is Schiggy, Ninetales is Vulnona, Jigglypuff is Pummeluff, Clefairy is Piepi, and so on, lol.
        I think I got my Gameboy Advance for a birthday once..and the Nintendo DS I have is the old one from my brother, lol, cause he bought himself a Nintendo 3DS..so I can play all the games except for the 3D ones..but he said I could also get his 3DS for a while if I want to play a 3D game…:)
        Maybe that is why in Finland people may be better in English..because you get in touch with English a lot earlier, like in games, whereas here in Germany everything (even names) get translated and movies get dubbed and all that..so we don’t hear English as often…

      • I’m so sad I don’t have any letters or postcards from the 90s!! I would have LOVED to see the stamps!! 🙂
        Piepi :3 That sounds SO adorable!! :DD
        It could be the reason 🙂 Almost all of the tv series are subbed instead of dubbed like in Germany and only some kids’ games are dubbed.. Most of the games are in English and when me and my brother got our PS one we were playing with the dictionary next to us until our vocabulary grew so that it was unneeded 🙂

      • The use of slang (or abbreviations?) in Finnish language kinda amazes me…I don’t think we have anything similar here (sure, we do have slang expressions and dialect, but nothing like this, I think)
        And we get told in school not to use slang expressions in writing…or dialect.
        So there is nothing really as clear as it is in Finnish…where Mä oon stands for Minä olen, Mä en oo (minä en ole?), sulla/sinulla, mulla/minulla, sä/sinä… I don’t think anything similar is possible either with e.g. English…well, there is really no way in English to shorten “I”, lol, and “u” instead of “you” is only really used in chat or text messages…
        A friend told me that the Muumit DVDs are so much more complicated because they don’t use any slang really…just the same type of Finnish you also find in books for adults usually…and I was like “well, for me it is easier if they don’t use slang”…lol

      • In Finnish we have written, spoken and slang 😀 Spoken Finnish uses abbreviations and the slang, for example in Helsinki, is really hard to understand 🙂 We also get told not to use spoken Finnish when we write but it’s SO hard as the spoken and written Finnish tend to be so different 😀 So far I haven’t seen anything similar in the languages I’ve studied.. 🙂
        How well would you think you understood spoken Finnish if someone spoke to you? 🙂

      • (there are not enough reply buttons here…you’d think every comment or reply would give you the option to reply to it…but it doesn’t..at least not for me…)

        Most books seem to be written in “standard” Finnish though (as far as I can tell…), slang seems to be used at times only…recently I found “Se tepsi.” in a book..and the dictionary said it is “puhekieli”… So far I only knew “se toimi”…(I think that means about the same…)

        Understanding spoken Finnish…hmm…I guess it depends on what is being talked about…simple things I can understand pretty well…When my Finnish teacher talked to one of the other students in class, in Finnish, about things they did, I was able to understand the general topic they talked about, not the details though. There have been days though when I was either so tired or unconcentrated that I didn’t get a single thing they said, lol. Replying myself or joining the conversation is something totally different though 😦 At times I felt I wasn’t good enough for the course…

      • I agree with you! The last reply is always after the first or second message 🙂 Luckily I have possibility to reply to the comment differently since I write the blog.. But whoever said that WordPress is easier than Blogger has NEVER used Blogger 😀 It’s so much easier in there 😀

        Yes, most books are written in standard Finnish which is one reason I feel like I’m being punched in the stomach whenever a YA book has some spoken Finnish here and there.. Letters I can read or write in both but books HAVE to be in written Finnish.. One reason why I changed to English books 😉
        Se toimi and Se tepsi mean the same thing.. But whenever I hear “tepsi” I immediately think about an ice hockey team TPS as it’s called Tepsi (or at least people around me call it that :D)

        I think you should just throw yourself to situations in which you have to use the language! 🙂 That’s more or less how I learned English 😛 Not in school but spending so much of my time playing videogames, using messenger chatting with natives/foreigners, watching series online in English or with English subtitles and opening my mouth and talking whenever there was a possibility 😀 Practice makes perfect 😀

    • I just can’t imagine somehow that here the kids would play games in English…every game is translated here… Many years I had to help some 6-year old kid who got some Pokemon game from an American uncle or so, and of course the game was in English. I think it was the Yellow game..since it had Pikachu as a starter pokemon…and I let that poor Pikachu forget its only thunder attack, because the english game text was way shorter than the German one..and I expected it to be longer…so when the game asked me something like “Should Pikachu learn the new attack?” (or maybe also “Pikachu already knows 4 attacks. Learn the new attack?”) and before I realized it, I had selected “no”…and we somehow had to continue the game with poor Pikachu only knowing more or less useless attacks…lol. That was so embarrasing…:P I was so happy when I was finally able to teach him a new attack…

      • Haha :DD I don’t know how it’s possible that kids just play Pokémon ans other games like that without any problems.. Me and my brother were just stuck with Final Fantasy VII since we didn’t find the Lunar Harp or whatever to run after Aeris and Sephiroth.. I think we were stuck for YEARS before I just tried and found the Harp on my first try xD

        But I guess Pokémon games were just so easy.. Especially since the names of the moves weren’t really even translated in the tv-show 😀 Or at least weren’t when I last heard it.. Though I remember people laughing at some of the translations.. 🙂

      • Here it’s just normal that everything gets translated, TV shows, games, etc. All the pokemon attacks are translated as well…in the games as well as in the tv show. Like for example thundershock is translated to Donnerschock here…so playing the game in another language makes a big difference…which is why the poor Pikachu forgot its thundershock lol, and only kept attacks like Growl, Thunder Wave or Tail Whip or whatever those nice attacks are called…lol. Fighting was fun like that, lol.
        Even the names of the regions and cities in the Pokemon games get translated.
        Guess that means then that it may be hard to find games in Finnish…

      • Yes.. It’s almost impossible to find any games in Finnish.. 😦 Some popular FB games are available in Finnish but all the other games.. Probably some early “teaching” games for PC are available in Finnish – math, preschool and so on but that’s it.. There were some PS1 games in Finnish 1997-2000 for example Pixar’s Bug’s Life game had Finnish dub but after that the only one that comes to mind is Sly Cooper 2 for PS2.. :/ And even those were available in English with better dubs 🙂

    • I constantly have to scroll up and down..from the reply box to the comment you left 😦 cause they are so far away from each other…lucky you, that it’s different for you…I always have to scroll all the way up to find a reply button, lol…oh well.

      It’s kinda hard though to find situations (except for in the course..) where I get to use Finnish…and most Finns speak English (or even German)…and using English is so much easier still..and faster. So often when I have the choice between spending hours on writing something in Finnish…or write it quickly in English…well, guess what I do? lol.
      I try from time to time to write in Finnish though, but when it gets too complicated, I just switch back to English…
      and as for talking…I tend to get nervous and insecure easily..and when I gotta say something spontaneously, then all the words seem to be gone… that also happens when someone tells me “Say something in Spanish/Finnish”..etc..then my mind goes blank, lol. Even though I can communicate well in Spanish…like answering questions or telling people something that’s on my mind. But to tell something random in a language to someone who doesn’t know the language, that is hard for me…

      Finding things in Finnish here is difficult as well…I only have my Moomin DVDs and some other Finnish movies…I’d love to have video games in Finnish, simple ones that is..but I guess to get those I gotta go to Finland…
      I guess learning English is easier…there are plenty of series in English…dunno if there are that many in Finnish…and those series I can get here, they mostly only have subtitles in Finnish…like Pretty Little Liars.
      Timo Parvela’s books are great…and they are usually written in standard Finnish…but I’ve noticed (too late though, lol) that Siri Kolu uses lots of slang in her books…well, the book itself is written in standard Finnish, I think…but there are some characters speaking slang all the time…like “Sää oot niin paha suustas, isääs tullu, Kulta-Pete sanoi”
      I was tempted to stop reading it again when I opened it and saw sentences in the first chapter like “Piti lähteä pyöräreissulle, mutta jäätiin kotiin kun sataa tihutti…”, but then a friend told me it is the same as “meidän piti…” and “me jäimme”. Not sure if I would have figured that out on my own…:(
      I think I prefer Timo Parvela’s books…
      “Paavo on uusi oppilas.
      Minä olen Ella. Olen toisella luokalla. Meillä on mukava luokka ja mukava opettaja. Tai oli, ennen kuin Paavo tuli. Paavo on uusi oppilas. Hän tuli meidän luokallemme, koska hänen äitinsä mielestä meidän opettajamme on nero. Opettaja nimittäin neuvoi Paavon äitiä laittamaan Paavon aiemmin nukkumaan, koska hän oli niin väsynyt. Se tepsi. Paavosta tuli tosi virkeä.”
      He writes the words the way I’ve learned them…and not leaves out things I still need…

      lol, that’s funny about that TPS ice hockey team…:P

  5. I wrote my first letter when I was about 9 years old, I found pen-friends ads on the kids page from a magazine my mom read. At 17 I wrote my first international letters via IPF. I only discovered Postcrossing about 3 years ago. I’m 25 now and a complete snail mail addict!

    • So you’re a bit more experienced than I am 😀
      Good to hear that snail mail isn’t dying off even though the postage prices go up almost yearly and technology is evolving all the time! 🙂

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