Friday, 26 August 2016

Postcards and Letters

I have been writing letters since I was 12 years old... so over 20 years now. Sometimes people ask me why I spend so much time, and money, actually spending the time to write and send letters. My answer is usually, well why not? I do cheat a little these days. I type much faster than I write so sometimes I type my letters, when I have more time I hand write (I sometimes feel sorry for my penpals that have to read my handwriting, it's never been that neat). 

Currently, I write to 50 people in places like: Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Sri Lanka, Bahrain, South Africa, Germany, England, France, Austria, Slovakia, Spain, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Poland, Canada, Brazil and the United States. So what has all of this brought me? 

Town Hall, Arras, France

Even as postage costs in Australia continue to rise I have made sure I still make the effort and take the time to write and send my letters. More recently, with International Stamp prices rising almost yearly I've had to budget more effectively and occasionally have a letter or two waiting to send until I have extra money to buy stamps. 

WONDERFUL FRIENDS
The biggest bonus of all this writing is all of the friends I now have all over to world. Some I have been writing to since I was 12 others I have picked up along the way. Some may find it hard to believe that you can establish strong friendships with people through letters but I can certainly testify to the fact you can. Over my 20+ years of penpalling I have met many of my friends face to face (some several times!) and on meeting them in person it was no different as if we had met 10 years ago. True friendship has no bounds and I have many beautiful friends dotted over the world. 

A WHOLE WORLD TO EXPLORE
As well as bring new friends letter writing has allowed me to learn more about the world I live in. I've learned about cultural events, festivals, religions, food, music and languages. I have also been lucky enough to travel. I plan my holidays and destinations around meeting or revisiting my penpals. It means that I've been able to visit some small, often not found towns and villages in many countries. This has meant when I've travelled I have seen places you would expect and it has also meant I have seen places my penpals have told me about. 

Me and my sometimes travelling companion Totoro in St Gallen, Switzerland with my penpal Brigitte (she took the photo). 


HOW DID I GET STARTED?
Originally, I used the International Youth Service (closed in 2008) to gather penpals, then I started sharing Friendship Books (FBs) and I also tried International Pen Friends, as well as a few pals who passed on addresses of people they knew looking for pals. These days there are also groups on Facebook that you can join but be cautious I've had friends tell me that some aren't legitimate, so when joining Facebook groups, observe and check posts before posting information about yourself and never post your address on a public post. 

WHY DO I KEEP DOING IT?
Well, why not? I have wonderful friends, I have an excuse to relax and do something fun. I get to see some amazing places through the eyes of others. I see interesting stamps on envelopes, I get something other than bills in the mail and most of all it makes me  happy! 

POSTCARDS
A spin off of my letter writings has been the growth of my postcards collection. Initially, it was only cards that friends sent me from their hometowns or from my travels when I bought cards to send my penpals, now it is more than that. In 2006 I joined Postcrossing. This project is fantastic and to date I have sent 3592 postcards to people around the world. Globally more than 36 million postcards (38 896  332 at the time of writing) have been received by Postcrossing users around the world. This is just a wonderful way of sharing a smile with others around the world. 

Buck the trend of emailing, sending ecards or digital cards send something real and make someone's day :) I know I do!