This week the mailbox has been extrordinarily full with letters from old friends and new penpals. A few years ago, when I participated in a European study abroad program (ERASMUS), some of my friends and I kept in touch by regularly writing letters to one another. We were all away doing our own thing and exploring various European countries so we usually had a lot to write home about and I still get excited about receiving personal letters and postcards.
A few years on and after a particularly busy two years, I had lost touch with a few of my close friends both from the UK and those I had met in France. Over the summer I found myself with some free time for the first time in ages and decided to put pen to paper and get back in touch with some of the friends I had neglected. At around the same time I also realised that I am not using my French in authentic ways anymore and risk losing fluency so I decided to combine my love of writing and receiving letters with language practise and sought out a French-speaking correspondant(e). As it happens, I ended up with two!
In today’s fast-paced, technological world, I find myself so easily distracted when I log onto the internet that I never get around to constructing lengthy replies to personal emails. I’m sometimes overwhelmed by the notifications on various messanging apps and can take days to reply to a single text message. Because of the time difference and busy work schedules it is not practical to speak in real time to friends in Europe, so writing letters seems like the perfect way to keep in touch with friends across the pond.
Letter-writing can be quite therapeutic as it requires a moment of peace to sit down comfortably and put pen to paper. It can even be a creative outlet to construct decorative enevelopes and pretty papers. It’s no wonder writing letters is often considered an artform. In my quest to find a penpal, I noticed that, ironically, there is quite an active community of letter-writers online who share craft ideas, swap cards and small items from around the world, and create some stunning parcels to brighten up the mail box. With all the recent incoming letters and cards I am looking forward to finding some time this weekend to sit down, practise my French and hopefully feel inspired to create some snail-mail designs that don’t disappoint!
One of the things I enjoy the most about the exchange of letters is the excitment upon opening the mailbox and having something other than bills to greet me. It certainly makes the kilometre trip to fetch the post worthwhile! Unlike in England most houses in Canada, outside of major cities, do not receive mail directly. Even when post is delivered to the door, there are no letterboxes cut into front doors but rather stand alone mailboxes (as seen in American movies!). It was quite a novelty to get used to having a key to a mailbox down the street and even a PO Box number in Manitoba, however it’s mainly just an inconvenience on a rainy day, especially if the box is empty!