As I wrote in my first blog post, I received my first letter in July 2001, over 12 years ago. Back then snail mailing was still quite a big thing, many penpalling advertisements in various magazines and only two of my friends had PCs and I didn’t even know what e-mail was! And letter papers, letter sets and cute stickers were sold in almost every store. Oh how things have changed…
I got my first penpal thanks to a children’s crossword magazine and I wrote with her approximately a year. After that it took me a while to find my next penpal whom I got in touch with in 2004 thanks to a girl’s comic magazine W.I.T.C.H’s summer extra. With the magazine came a huge poster of one of the main characters Will and behind the poster (I swear it was at least the size of A3! Too bad I’ve lost it ages ago) were tens of different pen palling ads from girls between the age of 7 and 14. I was almost 13 at that time and got in touch with Viivi, a 11 year old girl living only 50 kilometres away from me. While writing with Viivi I also tried to contact a couple of girls via Pollux horse book club from Finland, Germany and Sweden. Too bad, only one of those girls, Katri from Finland, replied to my letter back in 2004-2005. There was also a try to write with a couple of old classmates in 2002-2004 but it never lasted longer than 4 or 5 letters as they weren’t as interested in letter writing as I was.
I wrote with Viivi and Katri throughout my teenage years and shared nearly everything with them. There were one or two penpals that exchanged a couple of letters with me between 2004 and 2008 but all of them disappeared for some reason. In 2007 I spent a lot of time in YouTube, chatting with people who had similar taste in music and liked the same TV-series. Little by little I got to know Maria and after about one year of emails and text messages back and forth and chatting online I asked whether she would be interested in exchanging letters with me. The answer was yes and we’re still in contact, I actually got her latest letter just last week (70th letter from her)! I’ve even met both of them! With Katri I met last time back in 2010, with Maria just last weekend! Too bad I don’t have any pictures of those meetings as all of the pictures have disappeared thanks to my external hard drive or laptop crashing and I and Maria didn’t take a photo when we met… I’ve also met with Viivi various times but we have more or less lost contact since 2010 even though we’re still Facebook friends with each other.
Until April 2009 all of my pen pals were from Finland and my letters were approximately two A4 papers written on both sides. Then a male classmate of mine started bragging how he received letters and postcards from all over the world and I demanded him to tell me why and how. He gave me the link to Interpals and I got my first foreign pen pals. The 4 first girls I exchanged letters with were from Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Germany and South Korea. Out of those 4 girls only Erica from South Korea still writes to me a couple of times a year to update how her busy life is treating her.
After I had got enough of men treating Interpals as one of the many dating sites I moved to other sites looking for penpals. My personal favourites are Letternet, from where I’ve gotten all my dear German pals, and Penpal of the Week, a blog by a Canadian snail mailer filled with penpalling advertisements. I’ve also met some of my current penpals via Postcrossing and even Instagram.
When I started snail mailing my letters were quite shallow and about normal, everyday things such as how school was, what my plans for summer were and how I like this and that. Nowadays I have started to notice that my letters are deeper and deeper, thanks to my pals notifying me of it. With some pals I still talk about everyday things but with others I really share my thoughts and secrets. I started with a couple of pages per letter, nowadays I tend to write 3-5 A5 papers, both sides, and my longest letter I’ve written this year filled a small A5 notebook.
In the beginning I just wanted people to write with, nowadays I get put off the moment I have a feeling that the pal doesn’t like me for who I am and only writes with me in hopes of getting something from me as I tend to put something small with the letters. For example, last week I sent 2 postcards to Japan and included 2 Angry Birds liquorices and chocolate tea just because I felt like it!
Some of my closest pals are like best friends whom I’ve never met while others are great buddies with whom I get to talk about my weekend and school.
At the moment I’m not looking for any new pals but if I could get another pal who’s not afraid of writing pages and pages talking about everything I think I’d like to write to him/her.. Only that I have to finish my assignments and THEN I can write back 😉
How has your penpalling “habits” changed during the years? What are you mostly looking from a potential pal?