Tuesday, March 22, 2016

★How To Start Writing Penpal Letters★

So, before I get right to the blog, you can clearly see that there's been a change in name. Well I've decided to change to the name that I'm most known by, and I just felt like there was need for change.  So, Here goes the first blog under a new name.

Now, I got into writing pen pal letters when I was about 16 or so because I really wanted a pen pal from Japan and Germany to learn more about their culture because of course, I am American.  However my Father was born in Germany, and my Mother was born in America.  So, technically, I am first generation on my father's side.  So, thus began my search for pen pals. I've had pen pals mostly from Japan and Korea, but never really in Europe. Right now, I have pen pals within the states, and one in Canada.

But where can I obtain a penpal from? 

Well, there are a lot of outlets to getting a penpal. There is interpals.net which is the website I trust the most in getting a penpal along side facebook groups. On facebook, simply search "Pen pal" and some groups may pop up for you. Check them out, one of them though is female only, sorry guys. You could also simply just search the internet because I'm sure there are plenty of websites that I don't even know of that are good for penpaling.

Do I need specific supplies? Do they cost much?

I'll start with the basics. So, some of the supplies isn't a necessity. You can simply just have envelopes, pens/pencil (Which ever writing utensil you prefer), paper, and stamps. There are some other things that you can use whilst pen paling. You can buy Washi Tape. Now, you may be asking what in the heck is Washi Tape? Trust me, people at Hobby Lobby didn't even know what it was until I ran into a person that in fact does KNOW what it is, and in fact had a whole couple aisle's dedicated to pen pal writing, so don't feel defeated if you can't find it if you got to Hobby Lobby because it is there, but let's get to the point of what Washi Tape even is.  Washi Tape is actually simply just Japanese masking tape. (Say what?) Yep, which explains what my packages from Japan had such colorful and cute tape around it. However, there are a lot of uses for it such as making envelopes. I've seen people on a couple of penpal groups use washi tape to secure the edges of their handmade envelopes.  You can use washi tape to also secure your letter so it will stay shut, and won't be bothered during shipment. Washi tape can be cheap, some people have found some at their local Dollar Tree, and Family Dollar. I have no such luck so I bought mine at Hobby Lobby and usually they are half off so I spent about $12 on all the washi tape I got. (Picture below).

Next up, stationary. It's hard to come across cute stationary where I live. I am hoping to find some at the Japanese market I am going to this weekend but mostly when I want to have super cute stationary I simply just use google search. However, you don't need to have fancy stationary to write a great letter. The stationary is just for show but it's not the meat of the letter, what you write is! So, if you simply prefer using notebook paper when use it. You could even do little doodles but don't feel obligated to write on something fancy because it's all about writing our experiences, and sharing stories, not the stationary we use. I bought some stationary at my local Good Will, and I've also bought some colored paper at Hobby Lobby (but also Meijer sells it)  along with using old journal paper for stationary. Anything can be used, and if you don't have a big spending allowance then just google search some stationary and print! There's no shame in it.

Stickers and stamps! We all love stickers. I use stickers to decorate my envelopes but also to decorate my letters. Stickers can also be super cheap. I've bought more stickers for $1 than I ever thought I could. I bought most of my stickers from my workplace because hello 10% discount. I mean I'm only saving 10 cents but hey it adds up when I buy 10 different types of stickers.  Again, don't feel obligated to get stickers if you're not the type of person who doesn't do stickers. These are just some of the things I use in my everyday letters going out. (Well not everyday but you get what I mean.) ou can buy stickers for $1 at Meijer (if you have near you), Walmart, Dollar Tree, and about any store that is close to you.

How much do stamps cost? Is it more to send overseas? 

Sadly, it does cost more (about 3 stamps) to send overseas. 2 stamps if you're sending from the United States to Canada. It all goes by weight and how much the letter weighs. Stamps in the United States are about $8.80-$9 for a whole book, and those are mostly the forever stamps which don't expire.

Do I need specific writing tools? Can I type letters?

This question is a bit obsolete but I think I have to answer it. If you have a disability or arthritis in your hand and it's easier to type your letter then by all means type your letter. Your pain isn't worth it so don't feel obligated (I say obligated a lot) to hand write all letters. Some people may not like it to be honest but that is okay because there are people who do not mind it at all, like me! If you do hand write your letters than just find the writing tool, whether is be a pen or pencil, that best suites your needs when it comes to writing. I use various of pens, and actually have too many writing utensils. To write in Japanese I use a thin .03 lead pencil (but I'm out of lead and have to buy some Saturday at the Japanese market) and I think my Japanese writing looks fine with that pen, but otherwise I just use a pen.

I'm a very disorganized person, How do I keep a track of penpals and my pen pal things? 

So, I am also very disorganized. I keep letters that I have yet to reply to on top of my desk so that way I know who I have to respond to but you can buy a file folder and write "Waiting Response", "To Send Out" and "Already Responded" to keep organized.  To keep supples in order I simply bought a tub at Dollar Tree to keep all my stationary, washi tape, and stickers in so I don't lose them and they don't clutter my writing space.  I also have my pens and pencils that I use either in my pencil bag (that I use for school) or in my Hello Kitty bucket that I bought at Party City for I think it was a $1.99. Originally, it was going to be a gift to my Japanese teacher but then I thought that since Hello Kitty is prominent in Japan then it's probably not a unique enough present so I decided to keep it for myself.

You can also print off pen pal tracker sheets. This can be printed off from google or there is bound to be someone in the group you find that has one. I use a notebook to keep track of addresses and names of pen pals that way if I lose the envelope I have their address anyways.

Do I have to send packages, or exchange gifts? 

You don't have to, but if you'd like to and have the money to do so then go for it! it's all your choice. I've exchanged a few gifts and I thought I bought good ones but make sure to ask what the person likes just in case.

If you have any more questions for me about pen paling or anything else please contact me via facebook page. I will leave a link below for you.  This is all written from my experiences of pen paling and all the photos used here are my supplies that I use.  Keep an eye out for this weekends blog that may also have a video with it of Mitsuwa Market.


PPFL: PenPals For Life Facebook Group


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  1. How many penpals do you have? Is it hard to keep up with multiple ones at once? and is it usually expensive to keep up with more than one?

    1. I have about 8-10 penpals and while it can be a bit pricey because of the amount of stamps that I have to buy I think it's worth it. Also, if you are on a budget, then that's fine too! Pen paling is about sharing your life, culture, and every day doings with someone and shouldn't be based on monetary value. :) The stickers I buy usually cost $1, and the washi tape I bought from Hobby Lobby are usually half off on sale. To keep up up with pen pals you can always make a list or have a notebook/journal so you can keep up with your incoming and outgoing mail.


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