Saturday, 30 March 2013

Guest Post: "Arms Across The World" by Jenna

When I tell people that I have pen pals they often giggle and say that they thought only 8 year old girls still had pen pals. In this age of the internet we can access the opposite side of the globe with the click of a mouse; we can view photos of other lands and read all about other cultures and traditions on a myriad of websites, but where’s the fun in that!?

I began pen palling at the age of 10, I was a Girl Guide and was asked if I would like to be pen pals with a Guide in Canada I jumped at the change and so it began! Sadly I lost contact with my pal but we were only 10 and 10 year olds soon move on to something else. I picked it up again in 2003 when I met a lovely girl on who lived in Latvia, we started writing to each other and haven’t stopped since though she has moved countries twice we are still firm friends and after 7 years hope to meet one day!! Today I have 17 pen pals from all over the World and have no intention of swapping my pen for the keyboard any time soon!

What is it?
A friendship via letters with the use of good old fashioned snail mail. 

Some of my favourite postcards

Why Do it?
This is personal to everyone.
For me, it is so exciting to have colourful envelopes, postcards and parcels fall through the letter box. To have something among the bills, reminders and junk mail worth opening. To look forward to the post man’s arrival (or post woman!) instead of dreading it.

To learn about other people, countries and cultures directly, there is only so much you can get from a website. Letters from people from other countries include difference vocabulary and accounts of events they have attended so real you feel as though you are there. There are no cold facts or sales pitches involved, just passionate people from which to learn!

To build up friendships through the medium of letters is a wonderful way to get to know someone, especially if you are like me and find meeting people and making friends quite difficult.

Last but not least because it’s fun.... Definitely don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

Sounds Fab! How do I get started!!
There are several ways in which you can get started!

1.       Ask around – some of your friends may already have pen pals that they are willing to pass on your information to or vice versa.
2.       Join a group – There are pen palling groups on Facebook and Livejournal for people seeking new pen friends.
3.       Check magazines – some magazines still publish pen pal requests and then act as an go-between for  you first letters so that you don’t have to release your address details until you are ready.
4.       Search online – there are many websites set up for people to exchange addresses and details to begin pen palling.

A selection of my stationery
Do I have to spend a fortune?
No!! You can write a letter on basic paper, there is no rule stating that you have to use the best, finest, prettiest stationery there is.

If that is something you choose to do you could:
1.       Shop around – places like eBay are fantastic for deals on writing paper
2.       Swap – some pen pals enjoy swapping stationery and stickers to use for letters
3.       Make your own – if you have a printer you can make your own paper. Websites like have templates of writing paper which you can print.

Bear in mind postal costs - if you are sending a letter from the UK to the USA expect to pay between 91p and £1.35. International mail depends on the weight of the letter, if you have lots of pen pals as I do you may want to set yourself a monthly postage budget and stick to it!


It goes without saying but I want to remind you to be safe! Make sure you are comfortable giving out personal details and NEVER give out any financial details such as card and bank details!
If you decide to meet your pen pal after a certain amount of time, meet them somewhere very public and don’t go alone.
It is possible to build wonderful friendships through pen palling, but it never hurts to be careful.

Hayley's Thoughts:

Like Jenna - I also enjoy penpalling as a hobby and I have done it for around 7 years myself (though I had my very first penpal when I was 12 - we were set up with penpals from France through school to help us learn French! I wrote to my French penpal for about 4 years before we lost touch, though we recently reconnected through Facebook!).
 Like Jenna said - I love looking forward to the postman arriving and having pretty and chatty letters to open among all the bills and junk mail.
 I have made some wonderful friends through penpalling and have met a few in person - and there is little more relaxing than sitting down with a cup of tea and writing a letter to a friend!

This post was guest written by my lovely penpal/friend Jenna from What Jenna Thought....if you enjoyed this post, please go and check out Jenna's blog! :)
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