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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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! 😦

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

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 πŸ™‚ 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! πŸ™‚

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!! πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚

~Kristiina

Where do I buy postcards and letter supplies from?

I was planning to write a post last week but as I’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 – bought it in 2008 and have let it get wet in a pouring rain in 2011- so she didn’t even get that many photos and instead used her phone). I’ve also been a bit lazy and uninspired 😦

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 0,5€ :)

Cards from Porvoo Autumn Market (Oct 3rd-4th) Moomin cards for only 0,5€ πŸ™‚

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 β€œmeant for little kids”. I do buy those whenever I get the chance to or find those but 3€ for such a small amount of paper is ridiculous – I usually use 3-5 A5 pages per letter.

Postcardgarden

As those are rather expensive and hard to find I’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 wasn’t sold out the moment it hit the store like nowadays and unless my memory betrays me I’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 you’ve spent over 20€ (which is easily done with just buying 3 different letter sets). Β 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 you’ve used over 60€ at the store. And they ALWAYS have some Sentimental Circus goodies no matter when you’re looking. (I’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 9€ in Postcardgarden while in Janetstore the price is $2.8. Everything is cheaper than in any other online store. So what’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 90€ in total, of which 40€ went to postage. 40€. 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 πŸ™‚

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 0,3€ and the most expensive ones are 1€. And the most important thing is that all the Moomin cards are only 0,5€! πŸ˜‰ CHEAP compared to the normal store prices that tend to be 1,5-4,8€.

Perromania

But online stores that I use are mostly Postcardgarden, though I don’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 I’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 β€œrare” Moomin cards as well as UNESCO World Heritage Postcards for a postcard pal of mine who seems to collect those now πŸ™‚ 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? I’d rather not pay high postage and pay a lot to the customs as all the orders OVER 23€ outside of Europe are stuck until you pay a lot. Any other recommendations than Postcardgarden

-Kristiina