After the time in Thailand and the 15 baht stamp prices to destinations outside of Thailand (approx 0,4€/$ and £0,35) I have been more or less inactive with Postcrossing. I really enjoyed the fact that Thailand was a rare country to … Continue reading
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.
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 🙂
This could 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. 🙂
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. 🙂
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 😉
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. 🙂 The good thing about my baby is that he never starts whining or throw a tantrum ;P And he’s sometimes writing with me 🙂
Whenever a pal of mine drinks tea it’s just a big advantage 😀 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 🙂 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
What kind of requirements you have/what are you looking for when you’re open for one or two new pals?
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
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.
White box for Finnish letters
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.
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 ;))
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 😦
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 🙂
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.
My favourite letter sets that I haven’t even opened because I don’t want those to run out?
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? 🙂 Do you have some letter set brands or characters that you really love and store unable to open and start using those? 🙂
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 (0,85€ / 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 Åland).
After the worldwide price of 0,85€ per one stamp the international postage rates go up depending whether the recipient lives within Europe (1,3€ until 50g and 1,8€ until 100g) and rest of the World (2€ until 50g and 4,2€ 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 😦 ) and going on from there 🙂
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 20€ (1,4kg package to Germany, sent this autumn).
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! 🙂 I do that quite often and so far it has worked – no one has torn the postcard or tea bags so far 🙂
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) 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!
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 7€! 🙂
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 🙂
What do you usually send with letters or do you usually just mail the letter? 🙂
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.
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.
LOVE the cards and the small extras I receive 🙂 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 🙂 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? 🙂
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 🙂
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.
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 in 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 🙂
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 🙂 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” 🙂 This because I LOVE and collect postcards but I want those to be written before I add those to my collections 🙂
Now I need to go and write a couple of postcards to my pals 🙂
Does anyone else have postcard pals or do you think it’s just a waste of money/stamps/pretty postcards? 🙂
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 😦
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 “meant 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.
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). 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).
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 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 🙂
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€! 😉 CHEAP compared to the normal store prices that tend to be 1,5-4,8€.
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 “rare” Moomin cards as well as UNESCO World Heritage Postcards for a postcard pal of mine who seems to collect those now 🙂 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
“If you send a postcard, you will receive one back”
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!
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! 🙂 Please remember to update your profile/description about what kind of cards you would like to get or what you’re like! 🙂 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!
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:
Rules about the project and confirmation that you’re absolutely sure you want to send a postcard.
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!
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:
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! 🙂 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! 🙂
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 😉 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 😉
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…
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?
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? 😉
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? 🙂