Penpals – What I look for in a new one

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.

First letter I sent to South Korea

First letter I sent to South Korea

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Postcards are amazing :)

Postcards are amazing ๐Ÿ™‚

2) Patience
This couldย  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. ๐Ÿ™‚

4) TIME
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. ๐Ÿ™‚

Packages/Presents I've gotten for Christmas :)

Packages/Presents I’ve gotten for Christmas from a couple of pals ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ The good thing about my baby is that he never starts whining or throw a tantrum ;P And he’s sometimes writing with me ๐Ÿ™‚

Just look at that cutie :3

Just look at that cutie :3

Whenever a pal of mine drinks tea it’s just a big advantage ๐Ÿ˜€ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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

Not my favourite mug but I bough it for myself on my 21st birthday and do drink tea from it when my bigger mugs are dirty :P

Not my favourite mug but I bough it for myself on my 21st birthday and do drink tea from it when my bigger mugs are dirty ๐Ÿ˜›

What kind of requirements you have/what are you looking for when you’re open for one or two new pals?

-Kristiina

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11 thoughts on “Penpals – What I look for in a new one

  1. These days I don’t really look for pen pals, but sometimes (like when I see a blog, for example ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) one “finds” me. When I first started writing letters, I wasn’t interested in any international pen pals but I wanted one from every state. I quickly realized I’d rather have a handful of quality pen pals no matter where they’re from (as long as they speak English pretty well) than a lot of people who wrote me just because they also liked pen palling– if we wouldn’t be friends in real life, then I don’t see the point in pretending on paper.

    Although there are exceptions (wink wink) a lot of the time when people contact ME about being pen pals, I will ask them how quickly they’ll respond to letters. I love my current group of pen pals and my only wish is that some of them would write me a bit more often, so if a new pal wants to join that elite group, that’s a quick way to win my favor.

    As far as time goes, I don’t believe letters need to be long to show you put time into one, though I definitely prefer long, chatty letters! I do have some pen pals that don’t write very long letters, and my letters are usually around the same size in those cases (they’re all from the US though; if I’m sending something internationally I want to make it worth the postage!).

    • I’m not looking for penpals either, especially thanks to the upcoming postage prices, but when someone interesting sends me a message, how can I say no? ๐Ÿ™‚
      And just like you, it’s important to have an actual friend to write with instead of just an acquaintance..

      Lately I haven’t contacted anyone but I have received new pals as I’ve been asked to start penpalling with them ๐Ÿ™‚ I usually get comments in Instagram as well but as you can’t really tell about the person with a comment that says “Can I start penpalling with you?/Are you looking for new pals?/Can I write with you?” I usually say no even though I might miss an amazing pal by doing so..
      And so far I haven’t really cared how long my pals take to reply.. After I start working that might become more important as I have mornings/evenings free and day offs to write but as a student you don’t have that luxury and you just write when you find the time to.. :/

  2. Requirements..what I’m looking for in a penpal…
    It kinda depends..or sometimes also changes with the time.
    There were times where I was looking for penfriends especially from a certain country, because I was interested in the country or in the language.
    I prefer finding penfriends from other countries, since at least for me it kinda seems that I often get along better with people from other countries. At some point I didn’t want German penfriends at all, just like it was for you with people from Finland. Now, well, I’m not exactly looking for German penpals, but I wouldn’t mind it if someone was interested in that.

    Similar interests are important to me too…and it is also important to me that a person likes listening to music (not sure if there are really that many people who don’t like listening to music, but surely there are some).

    English is not necessarily something a (future) penfriend of mine has to speak…depends on what other language they speak. As long as they can communicate well in one of the languages I speak well. I have many friends I communicate with in Spanish, for example. Some of those don’t speak any English.
    So in my case I’d say that having a language in common to communicate in is important. This language is often English, but not always.
    Writing letters with someone when there is a language barrier and that person doesn’t really understand what you write, and you don’t understand them either..that complicates things…

    I have done some kind of language tandem learning though already…been helping people who learn a language, so by now I’ve learned to understand people even if maybe their language skills are not that good.
    On the letternet website unfortunately there is not really a way to find out how good the person’s language skills are, cause they just kinda have that standard profile you just fill out..and it doesn’t leave you room to write any personal stuff.
    One person I once contacted there, under languages she listed only “Finnish”…but how can you sign up for international penpalling when you don’t speak English? Some English (or German) she had to know at least… I didn’t know what to write her (or in which language to write her), and I sent her one letter, and after sending it, she either deleted me, or she deleted her entire account there, not sure about that…

    Age doesn’t matter to me either, I have friends that are older and also friends that are younger than I am.
    Can’t really think of any other “requirements” right now…so far I’ve usually read through a profile of a person and if it sounded like the person could be interesting to write to, then I try to contact that person…

    Oh, and nice of you to mention me in your blog entry ๐Ÿ™‚

    (Just wondering, did you see my comment in your other blog entry…the one called “things that annoy me in penpalling”? Probably you did though…you probably get notified when someone comments, but not sure)

  3. Kรคsiala on tรคrkeรค kriteeri, en vaadi kaunista kรคsialaa, mutta jollain tavalla sympaattista… Epรคselvรคt kรคsialat ei pรครคse jatkoon. ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Those are some great points! I also love getting tea in the mail, and last year, I actually filled up a mason jar with tea bags from all of my penpals, and I am working on that this year too. (The last jar was taken by my grandma and kidnapped to Mexico, haha.)

  5. I also hate those postal scan stamps. When I lived in Korea I’d have to tell them “pretty stamp please” and they’d have to rip off that electronic one. It’s a shame because there are so many wonderful South Korean stamps, especially their domestic ones… but people at the post office don’t put them on unless requested by the buyer.

    When it comes to stamp options, Canada doesn’t have many. As soon as new stamps come out I try to order them online. For some reason, the post offices (rare here) and postal kiosks (in stores, more common) don’t have many options ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I can imagine how bored my pen pals must feel. But I try to stick on some old stamps or seals that I’ve found/bought to spice things up.

    Have a wonderful day and thanks for sharing!
    Stephanie

    PS Sounds like you’d make a great pen pal ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. I’m still new in penpalling. And I guess I’ve just started. I used to love writing and receiving letters during my primary school. Which was before the existing of internet, mobile phone and etc. But currently, I’m getting in love with stamps produce by post office in Malaysia and I keep thinking where should I sent a letter using those beautiful stamps. Whom should I exchange letter in order to exchange the stamp as well. And beyond everything, I guess I’m missing the old moments of writing and reading letters.
    I love travel. Yes. One of my dream would be to travel around the world. But, it quite difficults since travelling needs lots of money. Until I google here and there. And here I am. A community of penpalling and postcrossing! Oh Man! I can’t believe it! This is real! I wish to have new friends from all over the world. So that I can know more about other culture and etc. Besides, I wish to have a penpals that can share their story of life with me and of course penpals that willing to read all my rambling. Currently, I just write what ever I want inside my personal blog. And just like you, I also want to brush up my English skills. Since I’m not English Native Speakers.

    Oh! So long. Yet, I forgot to introduce myself. I’m Sara. 27 years old “teenager” from Malaysia. Currently, i’m in the middle of completing my postgraduate study. Writing thesis forced me to write more and more. By the way, wish me luck with my study! And just to let you know, I enjoy reading your blog. Simple english. Easy to understand. Best Regards!

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