Things that annoy me in penpalling

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

Christmas package I received from  Emma yesterday and the stamps weren't cancelled! I get to reuse those after Christmas :)

Christmas package I received from Emma yesterday and the stamps weren’t cancelled! I get to reuse those after Christmas ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

5) LOL
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.

6) Swearing
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 0,8โ‚ฌ not that bad but still a bit high as less than 6 months before that it was 0,75โ‚ฌ – the lowest it has been since 2009. Then on June 4th it was raised to 0,85โ‚ฌ (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 1โ‚ฌ 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 1โ‚ฌ stamps (one sheet = 10×1โ‚ฌ stamps) but the clerk was trying to sell me the priority stamps (10×0,85โ‚ฌ). 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.

I collect stamps as well!

I collect stamps as well!

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….

Deutsche Post - PLEASE get rid of this flower stamp and make a new one!

Deutsche Post – PLEASE get rid of this flower stamp and make a new one!

Any pet peeves/annoyances you have that I wrote down or forgot/chose not to add to this? ๐Ÿ™‚
-Kristiina

How I Store Everything?

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

Bought from Tiger

Bought from Tiger

Peek to the box that reminds me I have to get my assignments done asap so that I have time to write letters!!!

Peek to the box that reminds me I have to get my assignments done asap so that I have time to write letters and postcards!!!

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.

Foreign letters 2009-2013

Foreign letters 2009-2013

Just so you'd understand how big it really is :)

Just so you’d understand how big it really is ๐Ÿ™‚

White box for Finnish letters

Finnish letters from 2001 to 2013

Finnish letters from 2001 to 2013

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.

To be sent postcards - I've divided those by themes, for example Moomins, Jetoys, Animals, Finland, Other countries, Christmas cards and illustrations

To be sent postcards – I’ve divided those by themes, for example Moomins, Jetoys, Animals, Finland, Other countries, Christmas cards and illustrations

Unwritten cards from swaps and penpals - I usually send these to my pals asking them to write something to those and send back to me :)

Unwritten cards from swaps and penpals – I usually send these to my pals asking them to write something to those and send back to me ๐Ÿ™‚ All sorts of cards and mixed themes

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 ;))

All my stickers BARELY fit the tin box - I buy more before I've used up all the stickers I already have :S

All my stickers BARELY fit the tin box – I buy more before I’ve used up all the stickers I already have :S

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 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Hearts for the love of penpalling and Postcrossing :)

Hearts for the love of penpalling and Postcrossing ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Stamps folder and my current stamps - running out once again! :S

Stamps folder and my current stamps – running out once again! :S

Sheets for my Malaysian postcard pal, German penpal and my BFF

Sheets for my Malaysian postcard pal, German penpal and my BFF

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.

Unopened and barely opened letter sets, unused letter pads, some swapped sets (envelope + 2 papers) - envelopes and papers that don't match are stored separately in 2 other boxes I cann't find right now.

Unopened and barely opened letter sets, unused letter pads, some swapped sets (envelope + 2 papers) – envelopes and papers that don’t match are stored separately in 2 other boxes I cann’t find right now.

My favourite letter sets that I haven’t even opened because I don’t want those to run out?

I love fairytale themes, Amy and Tim, Miki, Angry Birds and everything UK themed

I love fairytale themes, Amy and Tim, Miki, Angry Birds and everything UK themed

And my most favourite sets - 5 different Sentimental Circus letter sets :3

And my most favourite sets – 5 different Sentimental Circus letter sets :3

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? ๐Ÿ™‚ Do you have some letter set brands or characters that you really love and store unable to open and start using those? ๐Ÿ™‚

~Kristiina

Postcrossing – how to and why?

“If you send a postcard, you will receive one back”

About Postcrossing

I was introduced to Postcrossing back in August, 2009. I got the link, registered myself, took 5 addresses (which is the limit of how many cards you can send at once in the beginning) and sent the cards out the next day. Since then I’ve been addicted to the project, though I took some “time off” 2011-2012. In the beginning of 2013 I got back to the project and by today (September 25th 2013) I’ve sent all in all 635 postcards that have been registered of which 287 were sent in 2013. From the beginning the project was easy to understand, the page is in English but it’s easy to navigate in even if your English skills ain’t that good and the about page of the project has been translated to over 10 languages; Finnish, Swedish, Russian, French, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese to name a few.

How easy it actually is!

The start page of Postcrossing. Easy, right?

The start page of Postcrossing. Easy, right?

Click yourself to the site and this is what you will see. The basic “how to” is visible and right under it you can click “Create your free account”. You need to write your address, email, name, make up some sort of username and come up with a password you won’t forget. Then click create and you can start sending cards! ๐Ÿ™‚ Please remember to update your profile/description about what kind of cards you would like to get or what you’re like! ๐Ÿ™‚ No one likes empty profiles and they would rather come up with a fitting postcard to be sent to you based on what you describe yourself as, or what kind of postcards you like!

After you've created your profile this is what your homepage of Postcrossing will look like

After you’ve created your profile this is what your homepage of Postcrossing will look like

How many cards you’ve sent and received, how many cards of your current limit are travelling and what’s the distance all together. As I said in the start the cards allowed to be sent simultaneously is 5 but it grows quite fast to 10 and after that you get one more to send after every 50 cards that have been registered.

Sending a card

As visible there’s a “Send a postcard” option on the left of the site. By clicking it you open a window like this:

So you want to send a postcard?

So you want to send a postcard?

Rules about the project and confirmation that you’re absolutely sure you want to send a postcard.

I get to send within Finland!

I get to send within Finland! Go down the “and your postcard will go to” page and you get to see the the preferences of the receiver

There are various options, such as do you want to send and receive cards from your home country and do you want to send cards to repeated countries. I have the first options ticked and second not. (available in “Edit -> Profile”) I want to send only one card to one country at a time and I recommend all newbies to do that as well, otherwise you might end up with 5 postcards sent to Russia and having to wait 20-80 days for the cards to be registered and you to get your first card!

And while sending the card the possible demands you come in contact in some of the profiles are all just wishes, like written in the page:
You may state which type of postcards you like the most, but you can not make any demands for specific postcards. Your preferences will be used as reference only and not necessarily always satisfied.

Not all of the cards you send are to the recipients’ liking but you might also receive an ugly card you don’t like!

But when you take an address, go through some postcards you have or go shopping (most postcrossers tend to have a box full of unused postcards waiting to be sent ;)), put a stamp, get a pen and start writing!

All you need is to start writing!

All you need is to start writing!

Writing the postcard. Most people also like to see the date you wrote the card :)

Writing the postcard.Most people prefer to see the date you wrote the card ๐Ÿ™‚

Registering the card

There is an ID code given to you while sending a card. That MUST be written to the card or else the recipient might not be able to register it at all and you won’t receive a postcard! But when you receive a postcard with an ID code and message (maybe just the ID code and “Happy postcrossing” or a postcard FILLED with text, you never know!) you get to click yourself to this wonderful page:

Register the postcard and write something back to the sender, thank yous or ask for an address for a thank you postcard

Register the postcard and write something back to the sender, thank yous or ask for an address for a thank you postcard

Not all of the postcards you receive are to your liking but EVERY card you receive must be registered. And as you try to fill other postcrossers’ wishes you’re happier when people fulfill your wishes! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve received cards I haven’t liked at all and cards that I’ve liked so much that I’ve wanted to send a thank you postcard back! ๐Ÿ™‚

WHY do people do this?

I personally got hooked the moment I sent the first cards, I actually even remember what two of those sent cards looked like! The first card I received came approximately one and a half week after I had registered and sent my cards. It was rather ugly multiview card of some small town in Germany and the background of the card was poison green. It was ugly but I LOVED the feeling of getting something in the mail. Nowadays I’m the one picking the mail in hopes of getting to be the first to see whatever I received ๐Ÿ˜‰ And now that Finland FINALLY got its own Postcrossing stamps as a second country in the World (only Netherlands beat us to it!) I see no point in stopping. At least until the postcrossing stamps are sold out ๐Ÿ˜‰
To be honest I REALLY think the Dutch Postcrossing stamp was a LOT better as it actually depicted postcards. The Finnish stamps on the other hand…

Four stamps (if I remember right the Dutch had 10) and at least the "smiling/laughing" lips has been said to look too seductive/sexy/porn-ish!

Four stamps (if I remember right the Dutch had 10) and at least the “smiling/laughing” lips has been said to look too seductive/sexy/porn-ish! Not a safe stamp to send to Islamic countries I guess..

…yeah..
But I buy and use the stamps as most foreign postcrossers seem to like those, even though in most of the cases the receivers haven’t really commented on the huge (bigger than average) stamp.

I’ve also met some of my penpals and postcard pals (more about that later on) thanks to the hobby and received a bunch of amazing postcards from people around the world! How on earth would I have otherwise received a postcard from Iran or Bosnia-Herzegovina?

Some of my favourites I've received in 2013 (left-right, up-down): Japan, Norway, Russia, Netherlands, Taiwan and UK

Some of my favourites I’ve received in 2013 (left-right, up-down): Japan, Norway, Russia, Netherlands, Taiwan and UK. Not a big fan of city views ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks to postcrossing we can make someone’s day better by sending them a card they might find after a long and tiring day at work and the same will happen to us. Why not try to make someone’s day with a pretty postcard and a short message? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Some of the top countries in Postcrossing: (most users/most cards sent)
USA, Germany, Netherlands, Russia and Finland

Any fellow postcrossers want to share their opinions about the hobby? Or someone who might want to start sending postcards but has a question or two? ๐Ÿ™‚

-Kristiina

How I Started Penpalling?

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 didnโ€™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 changedโ€ฆ

Two out of Three letters that came this week - 4th letter from Emma, first letter from Vanessa. Both from Finland

Two out of Three letters that came this week – 4th letter from Emma, first letter from Vanessa. Both from Finland

I got my first penpal thanks to a childrenโ€™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 girlโ€™s comic magazine W.I.T.C.Hโ€™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 Iโ€™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 werenโ€™t as interested in letter writing as I was.

The first letter I got from Viivi. Horses and Harry Potter were SO in at that time :)

The first letter I got from Viivi. Horses and Harry Potter were SO in at that time ๐Ÿ™‚

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 weโ€™re still in contact, I actually got her latest letter just last week (70th letter from her)! Iโ€™ve even met both of them! With Katri I met last time back in 2010, with Maria just last weekend! Too bad I donโ€™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 didnโ€™t take a photo when we metโ€ฆ Iโ€™ve also met with Viivi various times but we have more or less lost contact since 2010 even though weโ€™re still Facebook friends with each other.

The 70th letter I received from Maria with a couple of postcards and a bookmark of David Tennant, my favourite actor :)

The 70th letter I received from Maria with a couple of postcards and a bookmark of David Tennant, my favourite actor ๐Ÿ™‚

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 Iโ€™ve gotten all my dear German pals, and Penpal of the Week, a blog by a Canadian snail mailer filled with penpalling advertisements. Iโ€™ve also met some of my current penpals via Postcrossing and even Instagram.

I need a LOT of space while I'm writing and usually like to have noise around me - music or internet reviews mostly ;)

I need a LOT of space while I’m writing and usually like to have noise around me – music or internet reviews mostly ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 Iโ€™ve written this year filled a small A5 notebook.

My next outgoing letter will be sent in this. My first try with masking tape!

My next outgoing letter will be sent in this. My first try with masking tape!

In the beginning I just wanted people to write with, nowadays I get put off the moment I have a feeling that the pal doesnโ€™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 Iโ€™ve never met while others are great buddies with whom I get to talk about my weekend and school.
At the moment Iโ€™m not looking for any new pals but if I could get another pal whoโ€™s not afraid of writing pages and pages talking about everything I think Iโ€™d like to write to him/her.. Only that I have to finish my assignments and THEN I can write back ๐Ÿ˜‰

How has your penpalling “habits” changed during the years? What are you mostly looking from a potential pal?

-Kristiina