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Postcrossing: Falling in Love with Your Mailbox

Updated on July 3, 2017
kallini2010 profile image

Kallini is an amazingly intelligent woman who is easily understood. She is wise, and funny. An entertainer - philosopher at heart.

Attention

There is a dash of humour in this article. Pay attention and don't forget to use your own best judgment.

Postcrossing is a global project connecting people by providing an opportunity to exchange postcards. You send a postcard to a random stranger and get a postcard back from another total stranger. The essence of “the exchange” is that you cross ways only once regardless whether you are a sender or a recipient in this chance encounter.

Postcrossing Versus Playing Lottery

Like in playing lottery, the hook is not in winning – if it was, most people would not play. The joy in playing lottery or gambling is the excitement of anticipation. You experience the emotional high between or at the time you purchase your ticket or place your bet and learn that you lost. Again.

You Fall in Love with Your Mailbox

Just like any hobby postcrossing is highly addictive. Now you get addicted to visiting your mailbox. "Has it arrived yet? Do I get a card today?"

No, not today. Your heart sinks. Maybe tomorrow. Nothing again. And then! You do receive a postcard, a beautiful postcard from Japan, Mongolia, Brazil or Spain, with beautiful Japanese, Mongolian, Brazilian or Spanish stamps and a heart-warming message from a total stranger. Exciting? You bet. And unlike tons and megatons of our virtual electronic relationships and communications, this postcard is yours to keep. Forever and ever.

The thing with addiction, though, your heart jumps, but then soon it sinks and you want another one and another one and another one.

Well, you know the drill.


How much?

A fancy mailbox
A fancy mailbox | Source

Postcrossing is a relatively expensive hobby. You have to buy postcards and postage. Of course, it depends on how many cards you send - you can send one, two, five per month and be reasonable. Right.


But think about other popular hobbies/addictions:

1. Consuming alcohol

2. Smoking

4. Playing lottery

5. Gambling

6. Paying for "services" you don't need


The thing is – with lottery and gambling and such – you spend (lose) the money and have nothing to show for it except for maybe a debt.


With postcrossing you might end up spending just as much if not more depending on how addicted you become, but in return you get to keep the postcards, the memories and maybe make a few connections, learn about other places. A postcard may be just a beginning of discovering the world.


A Video by a German Postcrosser

Surprisingly


Surprisingly, postcrossing may very well be the beginning of discovering the place, the city and the country you live in. It's like one begins learning in earnest only when he begins teaching. Try it. It's the same thing.


Did You Know?

No, I Did Not

I did not know that CN Tower stood for Canada's National Tower. I don't know why I have never even wondered.

I had no idea I could see one of the seven wonders of the modern world from my balcony. Well, now I do.

Simply because I did not know what to write on a postcard, I became motivated to learn more about my own city.


The CN Tower shares this designation with the Itaipu Dam on the Brazil/Paraguay border, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Panama Canal, the Chunnel under the English Channel, the North Sea Protection Works off the European coast, and the Empire State Building.

Think About It

Does it sound tempting for you to try?

See results

Let's Say

Let’s say you decided to try. The first most frustrating thing is waiting. When you join you are allowed to mail only five cards. Depending on the destination, it might take you a month if not more to get your first card back. Waiting is a killer.

Morocco

Caravan in the golden sands
Caravan in the golden sands | Source

Before You Begin

Set up an account – it’s easy. The club is free. Buy up to five generic “touristy” postcards with a view of your city or a particular landmark or the one reflecting your culture. You can buy the same cards, just don’t choose boring “It’ll do” ones – sloppiness always shows. You’ll never be “punished” for sending out lousy postcards, but soon enough members will figure out what kind of person you are and won’t be all too eager to send you good ones.

All You Need at First

All you need at first

  1. Username
  2. Password
  3. Your address

The rest - things like avatar, profile, male/female, swapping options - you can do later.

Username

You can change your username only twice,

so choose wisely

Most people write an address by hand. Just make sure it's legible.
Most people write an address by hand. Just make sure it's legible. | Source

Address

Important

The way you write your postal address is the way the senders should write it. The Canadian standard prescribes to use all capital letters. I cannot possibly ask anyone to write my address on a postcard where there is barely enough space for the handwritten version. So, I wrote my address in more human form in sentence case like all normal people do. The only exception is the country name - write it in all capital letters on a separate (last) line.

Proper Canadian Address

Ms. FORGOT MY NAME

120-45 GHOST STREET

MIDDLE OF NOWHERE TOWN ON Y2Y Z3Y

CANADA

My card from Japan arrived with address printed just as Canada Post likes it.

However

There are ways around everything. You can print out the address on a letter address label. It's even recommended for the mail going to China - printed Chinese address will decrease the probability of the card being lost.

【ATTENTION】I’d strongly recommend that using my CHINESE ADDRESS. Translating address will take much time than your imagination because of the poor efficiency of China Post. Writing the hieroglyph is also a fun for postcrossing.:)

— user - bugs7 from China

Print It Out

If you don't know how to write hieroglyphics, chances are you will mess it up beyond any recognition and your postcard will never arrive. I don't see how it's any fun.

Better Safe than Sorry

The Chinese address - both versions - Latin letters and Chinese hieroglyphics
The Chinese address - both versions - Latin letters and Chinese hieroglyphics | Source

How to Send a Postcard

To Send a Postcard

Request an address.

Agree to conditions.

You get a unique card number (for example - DE-111, CA-1122, RU-1234), and the address of the recipient together with their username and profile, of course.

Pay Attention:

Card ID and Recipient's Address are vitally important

Do:

  1. Read the recipient’s profile carefully.
  2. Pay attention to what a recipient doesn't want.
  3. Choose a card accordingly.
  4. Choose ink which doesn't smudge easily.
  5. Write the address.
  6. Write the card ID legibly in a place where it won’t be obscured by postage.
  7. Write the date.
  8. Write the message.
  9. Write your name (first name only).

Greetings

Hi,

Hello,

Greetings from...

Dear,

A Postcard Is an Open Letter

Remember that a postcard is an open letter. If it can be read by anyone in the world, it may very well be. So, write the most generic message you can think of.

Such as

"I live in Toronto, the most multicultural city in the world."


"I speak five languages, but understand only two of them".

Space Eaters

At first, writing to a stranger might feel awkward and intimidating. In that case, use some space eaters.

1. Write a line or two in your own language with the translation. There you go - four lines.

2. Use larger letters.

3. Indicate the weather and temperature.

4. Use large stamps.


"Today was a good day. Yesterday wasn't. I hope tomorrow we'll get a terrestrial rain and a change in the political climate".

Swedish Stamps

Stamps, stamps, stamps
Stamps, stamps, stamps | Source

You Can Safely Share

  • Your favourite quote
  • The last movie you watched
  • The last book you read
  • The last country you visited
  • The last time you had a major fight with your mother
  • Mention what you have in common with the recipient
  • Mention what you like to do
  • Best feature of your city
  • Why you like your city
  • Did you know?

Just like you

On my good days I study sociology

On my bad days I interrogate my neighbours

Personal Experience: Your First Cards Will Not Be Perfect


I was stuck when I wrote my first cards and I believe I did a poor job. However, I don’t remember what I said exactly – messages were different.

Two ladies said thank you and one said “thank you for the great joke”. Kill me if I remember what joke I wrote. After that I've decided to keep the photocopy of my cards.


Besides, I forgot to write my name.

If You Paid Attention

Speaking of mistakes: if you paid attention, the video creator made one consistent mistake: he meant "losses" and always wrote "loses". But the fact is, the message was perfectly clear.

Common Endings

All the best,

Take care,

Happy Postcrossing,

Forever yours,

We shall never meet again,


But really.

Really, you can think for yourself.

Your first cards won't be perfect, but soon you'll get the hang of it.


Good luck,

Strictly Speaking

You can try without trying:

Just create an account and browse

© 2017 kallini2010

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    • kallini2010 profile image
      Author

      kallini2010 6 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      Martie:

      I'll tell you the same as I told Flourish - just mail your five cards. It won't break your budget. Your grandkids will be ecstatic.

      (I asked for a Llama for Daniel and I'm sure it'll soon arrive). I already have an elephant. Once I get a Giraffe, my "family" would be complete.

      Besides, you have an advantage over both of us - South Africa takes 42nd place on the list of how many postcards are sent from a particular country. Every card of yours would be appreciated twice if not three, four, five times as much as ours.

      Just pick more South Africa specific cards rather than Season's Greetings or cute cats.

      I really hope you do so. Just five cards.

    • kallini2010 profile image
      Author

      kallini2010 6 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      Flourish,

      you'd be surprised - I've learned about postcrossing from HubPages five years ago. Back then it sounded great, but instructions were too convoluted and I did not bother. I wish I did, so that by now I would have a truckload of cards.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 6 months ago from South Africa

      I love to collect stamps, and cards, and personal messages, so postcrossing is a hobby right up my street.

      Thanks for bringing this hobby under my attention, Svetlana! Your albums were a feast for my eyes.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 6 months ago from USA

      You make it sound even more exciting. You should submit this to HobbyLark. Crossposting is like pen pals 2.0, brief, one-time interactions, many connections.

    • kallini2010 profile image
      Author

      kallini2010 6 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      Hello Flourish:

      I think all of them are unusual because they feel so personal.

      It's heartwarming to hear that you made someone's day. Certainly when I receive a card - it's so exciting!

      When will I get the next one? Seriously, when?

      What is disarming is that people try sending postcards you wish to receive. I wished for a card from an exotic country (chances of getting those are next to nothing) and I said "If you are from Germany etc., I'd love to..."

      So, my first card came, I thought from Mongolia, but no, from Germany - with the beautiful Mongolian woman in their national costume. Simply gorgeous.

      The second was an elephant and a baby (also as per my request). In one of my many intermediate profiles I asked for a sender's favourite song and I got one - Bellyache by Billie Eilish - never heard of it, but I loved it.

      And feedback - such as "thank you for..." or "I really enjoyed reading your profile..." (my favourite) or someone offering to send me a card just because I liked it. So far I said "no", but it was so nice to receive an offer.

      Honestly, I strongly recommend trying it - you send your first five postcards, receive your five postcards and decide if it's worth your while. In any case you can make an account and just see for yourself without spending a cent.

      I'll probably write a bit more about it - for example, how to write a profile or select a card.

      I hope you'll give it a try and let me feel like the greatest seductress of a century! Well, something like that.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 6 months ago from USA

      I've never heard of this but it sounds like a lot of fun and a good way to learn a bit about the whole world over. Have you gotten any unusual postcards or messages?