Updated: Jan 21
Who said that traveling in the middle of a global pandemic is not possible?
This Article was written by Aleksandra Dobroczyńska: "I'm from Poznan in Poland, I first started pen palling in 2015 and haven't stopped ever since."
The coronavirus outbreak has changed all of our lives on many levels. It made us postpone the realization of our dreams, appreciate the things we used to take for granted and hanker after the unfulfilled plans. One of the things that became limited or completely taken away from us is the capacity to travel- an activity that is cherished by many.
So why not stimulate our imagination and embark on a pen palling adventure? You don't have to buy pricey flight tickets or organize your trip in advance. All you need is a sheet of paper, a pen and a pal. By sending out a letter you open yourself to new possibilities such as forming friendships with strangers, learning about different countries, broadening your horizons or gaining a new hobby. Like traveling, pen palling comes with a sense of excitement and curiosity about the world and the unknown. Time to book your next trip!
First of all, let's choose a destination! Do you want to "travel" to a country you've already been to and loved, to your dream destination, or maybe a place you've never heard of before? Lucky for you, your options are limitless! Pen Pal International gives you a chance to connect with people from all around the globe. You can even go a little crazy by making a list of countries and drawing one of them to see which part of the world will fate take you to!
Once you've chosen where you want to go, reach out to the person who is going to be "hosting" you in their country! You can become each other's personal, native guides and teach one another about the places you come from. You can share your traveling experiences or daydream about visiting places you've always wanted to see. Who knows, maybe you'll find a travel buddy for future excursions?
Exchanging letters with a foreign person is the best way to learn the ins and outs of a country. You get the unique perspective of somebody living there, you have an access to first-hand information! Use this opportunity to ask your pen pal about their favorite aspects of their country, they can tell you about some hidden gems that only locals know about and appreciate. If you've always been curious whether stereotypes about a certain country are accurate or they contradict the reality, now you can find out! Compare traditions, schooling systems or holidays. Take a stroll in your neighborhood/city, snap some pictures, print them and send them to your pen pal. You can try preparing a quiz with questions and fun facts about your country and see how much you know about each other's cultures. While telling somebody about your homeland you can actually learn a lot about it yourself. It forces you to dig deeper, verify the information and wanting to present it from the best side makes you a proud citizen. Facts about your own country that seem boring and casual to you might astonish your pen pal from abroad!
"I remember I was absolutely baffled to find out that my French pen pal's toilet was in a different room than the rest of her bathroom!"
-Jaylee Stringham USA
What is traveling without trying new food, right? Make a snack swap with your pen pal! Set a price limit, ask each other about flavour preferences and prepare a package with your country's specialties. Another fun way is to exchange local dish recipes, cooking can be a lot
of fun especially during all the time we spend at home because of the
Pen palling is a great device to practice and improve your language skills. Try writing your letters fully or partly in a language other than your native one. Search for a pen pal who speaks or learns the language you want to master so you can motivate each other, correct each other and practice it together. Add a small dictionary in the end of your letter with new words that struck your fancy, recommend series to watch or music and podcasts to listen to in that particular language. This way, a learning process can turn out to be entertaining and almost effortless and you can make progress quickly.
It's nice to own something that is going to remind us of the journeys we had taken. While a letter itself is a reminiscent souvenir you might want to collect and send out other things related to a country. Postcards, magnets and coins are some of the ideas. With some shops closed due to coronavirus these items might be hard to get but you can see if a post office near you is selling them.
You don't need to leave your house in order to still be able to discover the world, make new friends and create great memories. Pen palling is like a one way ticket trip without time nor distance limits. It can even remind of a time travel since snail mailing is a perfect escape from the modern world full of online communicators. Hop on board, send a letter to another part of the world and let a part of the world into your house!