Snail Mail Penpals or E-pals?

Whilst you are searching for your international penpal, it is important for you to decide what form of communication you will use to contact the new friends you are about to make. Prior to the internet, all penpalling was done via post. But now, the internet is offering a quick, easy and affordable solution to penpalling. Below we have first listed the advantages of Penpalling by traditional postal letters and on the next page we have listed the advantages of communicating electronically. The choice is yours!

Advantages of Snail Mail Correspondence

The "feeling of distance" is realised by corresponding through postal mail
Even with our technological advances, overseas postal mail still takes 1-3 weeks to arrive in your mail box after it is sent. This delay in receiving letters can be useful if you have a busy lifestyle or if you have many penpals because it gives you some free time whilst you wait for your reply. Postal mail literally travels like a snail, so generally you don't write letters more than once every two weeks at the fastest (one week before your letter reaches at your pal, and another week before you receive your pen pal's reply). This means that you not only have to write so often, but also have more time to gather your thoughts and come up with the topics to write about in your next letter. This would usually make for more interesting correspondence because you are writing about the best things that happened in the last week, rather than 1 day.

The manner in which the communication arrives is different
A postal letter is very individual, written on physical paper, with different ink and style of writing. The envelop will have a stamp available only in the country it was sent from. Whenever I encourage people to take up penpalling , I always ask people.. what makes you more excited - opening an email from a friend, or opening a postal letter from a friend? Which makes you feel more like "I've got mail from overseas!"? If you want to receive real "overseas" mails, pen and paper is the right choice for you. I have a penpal from a small village in china.. the paper my penpal writes on is of a loosely pressed texture, with an aged off-white color. The smell of the paper is very musty. As soon as I opened my first letter from this penpal, I immediately got a "sense of this real person" and their circumstances, in a way that email could never convey.

The possibility of Long-term friendship is greater
Probably this has to do with the "feeling of distance" and the "sense of the real person" that I was talking about. In general, correspondence by letters tend to last longer than correspondence by e-mails. Many of my email penpals have fallen by the wayside.. sometimes even without a goodbye - just like the person you walk past everyday at school or work... you start out by greeting each other and exchanging pleasantries, then a few months pass and you are just saying the occasional hi, hello. A few more months pass and the greetings turn into a slight nod or smile. Now 1 year later, you walk past them like they are a complete stranger. I am not saying that you are guarantied a longer friendship by writing by post.. I believe there is a direct link between the effort put into a friendship and what you get out of it. Postal penpalling generally takes more effort than emailing, so It would make sense that the friendships would last longer.. after all friendships that are easily gained are also easily lost.

Easier to send physical gifts and items
If you are sending postal letters every other week, chances are that you will also be more likely to send your penpal small gifts and tokens of your friendship along with the letters. This is great for those people that love to give and brilliant for those that love to receive. I find it keeps the interest going as well, cause you never know what will come with each letter.