Pages for penpal hunting

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.

Interpals Penpals

Interpals Penpals

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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..

Send something site after you log in. REALLY plain.

Send something site after you log in

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

Random Address + Profile I got by clicking "Random Address". You don't have to send them anything if you don't want. Instead you can browse the site as long as you want and choose someone who sounds interesting.

Random Address + Profile I got by clicking “Random Address”. You don’t have to send them anything if you don’t want. Instead you can browse the site as long as you want and choose someone who sounds interesting. Not too much info but enough to get some sort of an image of the person.

My current favourite penpal pages for the last year are the following:

Deutsche post's Letterner

Deutsche post’s Letterner

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.

Up and running once again! :)

Up and running once again! ๐Ÿ™‚

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!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

~Kristiina

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Postcard Pals

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.

Sent to my Russian postcard pal

Sent to my Russian postcard pal

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.

Postcard pal with similar interests - everything cute and Asian. AND cats :)

Postcard pal with similar interests – everything cute and Asian. AND cats ๐Ÿ™‚

We exchange fantasy/illustration/Moomin postcards and usually add something small with those. And use pretty stamps :3

We exchange fantasy/illustration/Moomin postcards and usually add something small with those. And use pretty stamps :3

LOVE the cards and the small extras I receive ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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? ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

Japanese and Hong Kongese stamps.

Japanese and Hong Kongese stamps

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 inย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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” ๐Ÿ™‚ This because I LOVE and collect postcards but I want those to be written before I add those to my collections ๐Ÿ™‚

Illustrations and a Masking tape from Japan

Illustrations and a Masking tape from Japan

2 postcards from Japan (left) and 2 from Hong Kong (right)

2 postcards from Japan (left) and 2 from Hong Kong (right)

Now I need to go and write a couple of postcards to my pals ๐Ÿ™‚
Does anyone else have postcard pals or do you think it’s just a waste of money/stamps/pretty postcards? ๐Ÿ™‚

-Kristiina

Where do I buy postcards and letter supplies from?

I was planning to write a post last week but as Iโ€™m apparently the only one in my family who has a camera and my mum was going to Paris so I gave her my camera (and she ended up not getting how the camera works โ€“ bought it in 2008 and have let it get wet in a pouring rain in 2011- so she didnโ€™t even get that many photos and instead used her phone). Iโ€™ve also been a bit lazy and uninspired ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Luckily mail brought me my letter set, postcard and sticker orders from Postcardgarden and Perromania and those got me inspired.

Letter sets, papers and a couple of envelope sets

Letter sets, papers and a couple of envelope sets from Postcard garden

Postcards and one set of stickers

Postcards and one set of stickers

Moomins and Belle and Boo card from Perromania

Moomins and Belle and Boo card from Perromania

World Heritage Site cards from Perromania

World Heritage Site cards from Perromania

Cards from Porvoo Autumn Market (Oct 3rd-4th) Moomin cards for only 0,5โ‚ฌ :)

Cards from Porvoo Autumn Market (Oct 3rd-4th) Moomin cards for only 0,5โ‚ฌ ๐Ÿ™‚

From where do YOU buy your letter/postcrossing supplies?

At least in Finland letter sets/papers are nearly impossible to find unless you want to use those boring white lined papers or buy expensive 10 papers + 10 envelopes set โ€œmeant for little kidsโ€. I do buy those whenever I get the chance to or find those but 3โ‚ฌ for such a small amount of paper is ridiculous โ€“ I usually use 3-5 A5 pages per letter.

Postcardgarden

As those are rather expensive and hard to find Iโ€™ve started to order letter sets and pads online since 2010 when I found Finnish online store Postcardgarden. Back then it was rather small and everything wasnโ€™t sold out the moment it hit the store like nowadays and unless my memory betrays me Iโ€™d argue that back then the prices were lower. The prices in the store are high compared to many other foreign stores but for, at least, Finns the postage is free after youโ€™ve spent over 20โ‚ฌ (which is easily done with just buying 3 different letter sets). ย The postcards are the main focus in the store but the sticker and paper selections are good if you manage to click to the site when the new products are put up (I recommend you to follow their Facebook page where the new products are mentioned).

The foreign stores I tend to use the most are Modes4u from Hong Kong and Janetstore from Taiwan.

Modes4U

Modes4u might have a smaller selection of goodies and is more expensive BUT the store offers free postage after youโ€™ve used over 60โ‚ฌ at the store. And they ALWAYS have some Sentimental Circus goodies no matter when youโ€™re looking. (Iโ€™m a HUGE SC fan and I LOVE the stickers and letter sets SO much!!).

Janetstore

Janetstore has good selection, I could use hours and hours going through the site, and the prices are quite low, for example one of my favourite letter sets, Amy and Tim (80 papers and 8 envelopes) costs nearly 9โ‚ฌ in Postcardgarden while in Janetstore the price is $2.8. Everything is cheaper than in any other online store. So whatโ€™s the catch? The postage prices are usually ridiculously high. If you spend the minimum of $10 in the store, no matter WHAT you buy, be it only stickers and small letter sets you can expect the postage to be at least $10. Last year I and my flatmate chose to order something together from Janetstore as its selection is amazing. We spent 90โ‚ฌ in total, of which 40โ‚ฌ went to postage. 40โ‚ฌ. RIDICCULOUS.

The shipping is FAST in all of the stores. I usually wait for a week, max.2 and I have everything in my hands ๐Ÿ™‚

Postcards on the other hand..

I tend to buy most of my postcards from a small store in Porvoo called Sadunhenki as the postcards from there are CHEAP. The cheapest cards are just 0,3โ‚ฌ and the most expensive ones are 1โ‚ฌ. And the most important thing is that all the Moomin cards are only 0,5โ‚ฌ! ๐Ÿ˜‰ CHEAP compared to the normal store prices that tend to be 1,5-4,8โ‚ฌ.

Perromania

But online stores that I use are mostly Postcardgarden, though I donโ€™t usually buy that many cards from there, and I finally tried my luck with Perromania, a store that has had its ads in Postcrossing.com and Iโ€™ve read of in some Finnish blogs (and yes, they mail abroad as well ;)). I bought way too many Christmas cards from the store and some โ€œrareโ€ Moomin cards as well as UNESCO World Heritage Postcards for a postcard pal of mine who seems to collect those now ๐Ÿ™‚ So far all of these stores have worked just fine for me but does anyone know a good online store for letter papers within Europe? Iโ€™d rather not pay high postage and pay a lot to the customs as all the orders OVER 23โ‚ฌ outside of Europe are stuck until you pay a lot. Any other recommendations than Postcardgarden

-Kristiina