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

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

Letter Writing Habits

Been a while! Mostly because school has kept me busy so I haven’t had the time to write letters (only a couple of postcrossing cards and cards to my postcard pals now and then) so there wasn’t any time to take pictures for this post either. Luckily now I have a long weekend (4 days) and I’ve written all the needed assignments and essays so I can sit down, relax, make a cup of tea and start writing back to my pals who have been waiting for my reply for way too long!

Usually I start by cleaning up my desk as no matter what I do and how little I write it ALWAYS ends up looking like this while I’m writing:

I can't keep it clean as I need to have papers and stickers nearby!

I can’t keep it clean as I need to have papers and stickers nearby!

So I started today with cleaning it up and started playing Todd (In The Shadows)’s Pop Song Reviews from blip.tv

Clean desk and Todd's "Top10 songs about mediocre romance"

Clean desk and Todd’s “The Top Ten Songs About Mediocre Romance

and as it’s visible in the picture I made some tea (I usually need to go and refill my mug 2-10 times per letter, depending on how long the reply is). At the moment my favourite tea is Lipton’s Vanilla Caramel tea (which I found thanks to Mary Ihmemaassa blog or herย Instagram, can’t remember which) and I drink black tea with milk but leave it out when drinking green or herbal teas.

This, Strawberry cupcake and Blueberry Muffin are the best Lipton teas there are :3

This, Strawberry cupcake and Blueberry Muffin are the best Lipton teas there are :3

After everything needed is done I reread a letter I’m replying to, in this case Maria’s letter from a couple of months ago.. I really hope I manage to get a lot of letter writing done this weekend!! X__x

Love it when she uses the letter papers I gave to her for her birthday/Christmas present :3

Love it when she uses the letter papers I gave to her for her birthday/Christmas present :3

and then starts my favourite part of letter writing:
looking up the address whenever my pal hasn’t written it on the envelope

Bigger notebook from Maria back in 2010, smaller from my British penpal from 2012 - bigger one stays at home, smaller one travels with me wherever I go so that I can send postcards to my pals :3

Bigger notebook from Maria back in 2010, smaller from my British penpal from 2012 – bigger one stays at home, smaller one travels with me wherever I go so that I can send postcards to my pals :3

Afterwards I go through the stamps unless I’ve promised to use a certain set for a pal who collects stamps like I do ๐Ÿ™‚ In Maria’s case I get to choose the stamps myself ๐Ÿ™‚ And as Christmas is coming soon I’ve even managed to get those new Christmas stamps!

Autumn and Angry Birds stamps as well as 1st class (priority), 2nd class (domestic) and 0,65โ‚ฌ (for Christmas postcards within Finland) stamps and of course a set of 0,2โ‚ฌ stamps so that I can use those Christmas card stamps while sending a letter abroad

Autumn and Angry Birds stamps as well as 1st class – boy (priority), 2nd class – Angel (domestic) and 0,65โ‚ฌ – hug/kiss (for Christmas postcards within Finland) stamps and of course a set of 0,2โ‚ฌ stamps so that I can use those Christmas card stamps while sending a letter abroad

And then I start decorating the envelope if it’s plain and not from one of those kawaii letter sets I have.

This time the envelope is black so I wrote the address on a sticky label I bought from Tiger store and put a 3D wall sticker (also from Tiger)

This time the envelope is black so I wrote the address on a sticky label I bought from Tiger store and put a 3D wall sticker (also from Tiger)

Then I go through what I could send to my pal with the letter. I tend to enclose something small with every letter I send. This time I ended up sending some postcards.

Moomins, Asian related and Jetoy cat cards

Moomins, Asian related and Jetoy cat cards

Most of the time I enclose tea bags, stickers, sweets or small tapes for my pals

Nordqvist teas, some Disney jelly beans and a tape

Nordqvist teas, some Disney jelly beans and a tape for another pal

Then I choose the letter paper I write the letter on, choose stickers and after all that I FINALLY start writing the letter!

Amy and Tim letter set

Amy and Tim letter set

Stickers and glossy scraps(?) to use for decorating the back side of the paper

Stickers and glossy scraps(?) to use for decorating the back side of the paper

and start writing

and start writing

Yes, writing one letter takes a LOT of time from me and I bet you can understand why ๐Ÿ™‚ Each part of my letter writing habits is important! ๐Ÿ™‚ And I usually need a little bit of inspiration to start writing as well ๐Ÿ™‚

Do YOU have some habits without which you just can’t start writing a letter? ๐Ÿ™‚

-Kristiina

The Beginning.

Who am I?

Let’s all agree to use my 2nd name Kristiina as I’m sick and tired of people misspelling and/or mispronouncing my first name – been experiencing it for as long as I can remember and besides Kristiina sounds prettier! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m 22 years old tourism student from the 2nd oldest town of Finland – Porvoo (50km away from our capital Helsinki).
More can be found from About Me.

Why the name? Where does it come from?

Letters, Postcards and a Cup of Tea – the three most important things in my free time. I can’t wake up or even think about eating breakfast without a proper cup of black tea (with a little bit of milk poured in). Letters and postcards come a bit later as our mail lady tends to come around noon and I’m often waiting for her next to our small mailbox. I’ve been into letter writing since I was 10 (way back in 2001) so my letter writing hobby is coming to its teenage years while my Postcrossing “career” is only 4 years old.

How did I start letter writing?

I can’t remember how I wrote my first letter, when I wrote it and to which kind of paper but I do remember that I got my first proper letter after a week at a summer cottage. We came back home and on my desk was a Winnie the Pooh letter waiting for me:

Cancellation stamp states July 20th 2001 - 3 days before my 10th birthday.

Cancellation stamp is dated July 20th 2001 – 3 days before my 10th birthday.

I wrote the first letter to her as I got her address on one of those children’s crossword magazines.
I can still remember how thrilled I was to read the letter and I practically ran to my daddy telling him how my penpal likes S Club 7 just like I did! (it seems so long ago that they had their own tv-show and “made” music)
It was the letter that started this craziness with not enough space to store all the letters I’ve received and way too much space taken up by stickers, postcards and letter papers.
Too bad the pen friendship with K only lasted for about a year before she dropped me without a proper note and I moved on to longer lasting pals with whom I still write. One of my pals has written with me since 2004 so we’ve practically grown together! And yes, I still store some of the letters from people I don’t write with anymore. The letters have sentimental value.

How did I start Postcrossing?

A classmate back in Upper Secondary School (2009) told me how he had penpals from all over the world, most importantly from Japan which was my favourite country EVER back then (things have changed since then, thank god!). And as I got jealous I asked why did he get so much mail from abroad while all my mail came from within Finland. He gave me links to both postcrossing and interpals (more about it later on) and I got hooked after I got the 5 first addresses and sent the cards to Netherlands, Germany, USA, Poland and Malaysia. Now (September 10th 2013) I’ve sent over 610 cards all over the world and as Finland got its official postcrossing stamp just yesterday it seems I won’t be quitting anytime soon!

Thank you for checking the blog and if you’re not too busy I’d like to hear how you’ve started penpalling and/or postcrossing ๐Ÿ™‚ Would appreciate the share as well ๐Ÿ˜‰

-Kristiina

Follow my blog with Bloglovin