Letter Writing and Penpals
I’ve always enjoyed writing letters. When I was at school, my friend Sarah and I would write letters to each other and bring them to school to exchange, with drawings, stickers, postcards, whatever we could find. We both loved to collect the stationery from hotels we had stayed in and we’d swap items as if it was some sort of trading card game, so we had as varied a stationery set as possible to write with.
Since then, I’ve diversified a little — I write to friends, family, penpals; I just love the thrill of checking my mailbox to find a cute handwritten letter rather than boring old bills. A few years since I started writing I’m now living in Milan and so letter writing has become increasingly important to me — as a languages student, I and many of my friends are partaking in a Year Abroad to study for our course, and although we have the internet and could easily send each other a WhatsApp (and still do), for me, nothing beats homesickness better than getting an actual physical letter from a friend, seeing their handwriting, and spending some time to really sit down and think about what to reply.
One of the real joys for me in letter writing is also the excuse to buy cute stationery - I always lust over the adorable matching lettersets in Paperchase, and I have an extensive collection of stickers, stamps, washi tape and even a wax seal so I can make every letter I write a little work of art. Some of my favourite places to buy stationery include Paperchase (obviously, its one of those shops that I can’t leave without buying something!), Waterstones, along with online stores like Kawaii Pen Shop (great for washi tape, stamps and stickers), Ohh Deer, Present & Correct (they sell a range of authentic vintage stationery), and obviously supporting independent stores and designers in your area and on Etsy! I also have a couple of typewriters, and I love to use them to write my letters, as I think it makes the letters look really quirky, and if you’re not so fond of your handwriting its a nice way to keep your letters looking cute. Sadly while I’m abroad I couldn’t bring my typewriter, but it doesn’t stop me from writing!
If you want to get started with letter writing, its often easy to find a penpal online! My first penpals were friends I made through Instagram — you could post saying you’re looking to find someone to write to, and if you have followers who you don’t know in real life, someone who likes your account is likely to comment, or even let you know of a friend of theirs who would be interested! Also, if you have friends who move to different cities for university, jobs, or something else, writing letters to each other is a great way to keep in touch and help each other feel less homesick! There are also dedicated websites and Facebook groups for connecting you up with penpals around the world - I haven’t tried these but they could be fun. Don’t be disheartened if your first attempt at finding a penpal doesn’t work out though — some penpals don’t always turn out to have that much in common, but some penpals end up making lifelong friends! I’ve met some of my penpals in real life now and we hang out often and it’s so funny to think that once we used to just speak via letters!