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 πŸ™‚

Postcards are amazing :)

Postcards are amazing πŸ™‚

2) Patience
This couldΒ  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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

Packages/Presents I've gotten for Christmas :)

Packages/Presents I’ve gotten for Christmas from a couple of pals πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ™‚ The good thing about my baby is that he never starts whining or throw a tantrum ;P And he’s sometimes writing with me πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜€ 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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ˜›

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 (0,85€ / 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 Γ…land).

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 πŸ™‚

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).

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! πŸ™‚ I do that quite often and so far it has worked – no one has torn the postcard or tea bags so far πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 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)Β  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 7€! πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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

-Kristiina