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

What to send with the letters?

I love to include all sorts of small surprises with my letters but it’s easiest with domestic mail in Finland. International mail travels with one stamp (0,85โ‚ฌ / 1.luokka (first class)) as long as the envelope is maximum 3cm thick and weighs less than 20g. In domestic mail the thickness is the same but the weight goes up to 50g (excluding ร…land).

After the worldwide price of 0,85โ‚ฌ per one stamp the international postage rates go up depending whether the recipient lives within Europe (1,3โ‚ฌ until 50g and 1,8โ‚ฌ until 100g) and rest of the World (2โ‚ฌ until 50g and 4,2โ‚ฌ until 100g). Due to these rather expensive prices I tend to try and stay with the 20g.

To avoid the expensive prices of 50-100g letters I usually send anything and everything that’s flat and doesn’t weight too much, starting from photographs (that I haven’t made or sent in nearly a year now ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ) and going on from there ๐Ÿ™‚

Most of the time I include bits and pieces of things that I like such as

Stickers, my favourite teas, postcards (be it birthday/Christmas or just a card that I really like and think my pal would like as well) and used stamps.

Now and then when I have money and can afford more expensive postages I do send some sweets and packages to my pals that can include anything from mugs to scarves and letter sets and books. My most expensive package in 2nd class mail has been nearly 20โ‚ฌ (1,4kg package to Germany, sent this autumn).

I usually avoid sending teas that aren't packed individually but I do love when I get teas packed like that from my pals. Next to is is a small bag filled with used stamps.

I usually avoid sending teas that aren’t packed individually but I do love when I get teas packed like that from my pals. Next to is is a small bag filled with used stamps.

You can easily send your pal more than one or two tea bags as those usually weight 2-3g. Just tape those to the back of a postcard and you can easily avoid the envelope being thicker than 3cm! ๐Ÿ™‚ I do that quite often and so far it has worked – no one has torn the postcard or tea bags so far ๐Ÿ™‚

These are some of current favourites when it comes to tea :) Love sending these to my pals :3

These are some of current favourites when it comes to tea ๐Ÿ™‚ Love sending these to my pals :3

Stickers are easy to send if you have bigger envelope (in Finland the envelope can be bigger than A5 paper, I think even up to A4 and it doesn’t cost more to send as long as it weighs less than 20g and isn’t 3cm thick – correct me if I’m wrong)ย  but you can also take those from the packages and just send the sticker sheet! And you can always cut the sticker sheet with scissors and send stickers from various sheets!

Some are easy to bend, others aren't so choose the envelopes carefully!

Some are easy to bend, others aren’t so choose the envelopes carefully!

Then there are used stamps. Some people collect those (like me and a bunch of my penpals) while others like to use those for crafts, decorate letters with those or make handmade postcards! I usually send a bunch of used stamps to my pals who collect those – especially now that I have hundreds of doubles and stamps from DDR and North Korea! A great place to find used stamps are flea markets! This year I bought 0,5kg of stamps with just 7โ‚ฌ! ๐Ÿ™‚

Stamps!

Stamps!

Then there are postcards.
I usually prefer to send and receive postcards written but as some of my pals prefer those unwritten I usually go with the option my pal prefers.
Now that Christmas is coming, I have no time and I’m not crafty at all I’ve bought some Christmas cards from stores and I start sending most of those from the beginning of December – with letters or as those are, depending on has my pal sent me a letter or am I still waiting one from him/her ๐Ÿ™‚

Jetoy, cute illustrated Christmas cards and Moomin cards with and without Christmas greeting :)

Jetoy, cute illustrated Christmas cards and Moomin cards with and without Christmas greetings ๐Ÿ™‚

What do you usually send with letters or do you usually just mail the letter? ๐Ÿ™‚

-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 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