Monday, March 8, 2010

More on the Letternet saga

I don't have any fancy photos at the moment, but I just wanted to update my faithful readers on the continuing Letternet saga. In my original post, I mentioned the penpal service of the German postal service (Deutsche Post) called Letternet. You can read my previous posts - oh-so-handily linked right here for your convenience - to catch up on the saga, but I do have a couple of recent developments.

So far I've received two letters from Letternet. I wrote one letter to the only pen pal I requested who approved my address request, and she wrote back very swiftly. Her English is probably the worst I've seen from a German... don't get me wrong, her English is a hell of a lot better than my German, but maybe she just wants practice. In any case her letter was very sincere and I shall definitely write her back, though there may be a bit of a language barrier. The second letter arrived today (postmarked March 4 - yay Deutsche Post/US Postal service for 4-day delivery from Germany!), from a fine gal who writes much better English. She requested my address and I approved that request, and she must have written me really soon after that, and she included a photo of herself. I confess that I cannot really explain why, but I get a little skeezed out when people send pictures in the first letter (well, okay, I did get a couple of really creepy photos like that from The Letter Exchange, but we'll write those off as the inevitable weirdos), but maybe including photos is more of a European cultural thing to do... I mean, I know what a lot of my pen pals look like because they have blogs and they post photos of themselves there. Anyhoo, this German gal's photo was not skeezy at all, just a nice-looking German lady about my age, standing by a pretty mountain with her cute dog. Totally a lovely letter, descriptive and warm. I will definitely write her back and enjoy doing so.

So - for anyone interested in finding pen pals from Germany, I do recommend Letternet. It has its limitations - you cannot write anything in a personal profile, can't list a blog, can't add a photo, and if you're in the USA, you can only search for people in Germany (clearly Germans can search for folks in the USA, though, because at least one ended up with me), but since I've gotten two nice letters from there already in 3 weeks of membership, I'd say that's a pretty good track record. Quite a few other folks have requested my address, too, and I've approved those, but at this point I'm just waiting to see if they'll write first, since they were the ones who made the request.

Happy writing, folks!


  1. I have gotten a fair share of skeezy mail via Letter Exchange, too. I think that is because lots of the folk in Letter Exchange are older people who don't use computers and still hark back to their days of school-age penpals where sending a photo was cool.

    One of my Russian correspondents has pretty much no English under his belt, but he sends great postcards and I have fun sending him cards with just a simple sentence or two. I like to think his English is improving because of our exchange, but he doesn't ever indicate that, so I just have fun. Maybe your German correspondent might do better with postcards?

  2. PM - postcards maybe for German correspondent with poor English... or perhaps just a little fold-and-mail. It will still be fun, and like you, I hope that the exchange can be beneficial for us both. (Maybe I'll dust off some German!)

  3. Thanks for convincing me. :] As a die-hard German fanatic (which is what gets you into a German Studies major of course), it amazes me that I don't have a German penpal yet, so I'm very glad you've chronicled your experiences with Letternet so I can jump in next.

    I don't know about the photo though. Although I hate photos I would guess that I've been told once or twice that it's nice to include a photo with a first letter. I do know when you send a resume when applying for a job you attach a photo.

    It frustrates me so much that Deutsche Post does such an amazing job with getting mail from one place to another but Austrian Post still just sucks. I'm always worried about corresponding with someone from Austria, whether or not that person will get my letter or not.

    Maybe I should start sending postcards to people when I'm afraid that my letter got lost in the mail...

  4. Stephanie, you were one of the ones for whom I was writing the post. I know you're a German fanatic (Deutsch-ophile?) and I think this might be right up your alley... given the parameters (which I admit I don't much like) that you really don't know much about a person when you exchange addresses. C'est la vie - life is an adventure!

  5. It did feel a bit like you were writing it for me. I've also been wondering if it would make more sense in the German version (I assume you've got it in English). I think I'll have to poke around a bit in German and see if you can request more people that way. It does say that after entering the code from the letter it says you you should be able to search for penpals from all over the world.

    Anyway, thanks again!

  6. Attaching photos to resumés?! I have never heard of such a thing. Unless it is for a modeling position. Why would a potential employer need to have a photo, I wonder?

    I have a lovely German correspondent who is a flight attendant, so I end up with mail from all around the world. He is one of the people on my "I'd love to meet" list. I'm also amazed at how fast German post is. I think I've read that it was privatized a few years ago and has become something of a shining star for postal services in Europe.

  7. Stephanie - yep, I'm accessing Letternet in English. The original blogger - of Penpalling and letters - noted that she couldn't search for anyone but Germans, either. I wonder if that's just a glitch, because the site is new.

    PM - I'm with you about the photo on the resume, actually - I've applied for multitudinous jobs (and even landed some of 'em!), but never had to submit a photo.

  8. That would be one of those weird cultural differences then. ;) Although I only specifically remember reading that in one spot. I can't remember exactly what I learned in a German language class last year about what to do when applying for jobs, aside from the format for the cover letter (a very very very important letter it seems).

    I did just sign up and it is strange how it picked out right away "Deutschland" as the place for your penpals to come from. I have more poking around to do!

  9. If attaching photos to a resume seems weird, ask yourself why the only profession in the States that puts photos on their business cards is realtors.

  10. It is quite normal in many countries (can't speak for Germany) to include a photo on your resume/CV. It is also quite normal (again, can't speak for Germany) to include a photo in your first communication with a pen-pal.
    I know you are all lovely people, but re-read the stuff you have written:
    -but I get a little skeezed out when people send pictures in the first letter
    is a bit rude. What if someone somewhere who had received one of your lovely letters wrote 'I got this letter that was all decorated/sealed with sealing wax/written in a colour other than black and it skeezes me out when people do that one the first letter'. Wouldn't you be a bit put out? And how do you know your pen-pal hasn't found your blog and read what you wrote? Stranger things have happened on the internet!

  11. Anonymous commenter who accuses my blog posting of being rude:

    Let it be said that I stand by what I have written. I DO get skeezed out when I get a photo in the first letter, because it's not my custom and because it has been icky in the past (inappropriate photos, get it?). To clarify, the skeeze part is when I see the photo resting in the envelope but haven't looked at it yet, and as I wrote above, the photo of this gal was actually just lovely and appropriate, as was her letter.

    This blog is my thoughts, my opinions. Nothing here is anything other than my own assertion: and you know what? If I were skeezed out by sealing wax and any ink color than black (which is obviously not the case, for anyone who's read my blog for a while), then I would feel free to share my opinion, because it's my own damn blog. I also happen to dislike letters written in pencil and computer-printed letters, and I positively loathe those little friendship book/FB thingies, but that shouldn't stop people from writing and sending them, because it's just my personal opinion. I should hope that my blog readers would be astute enough to ascertain that. I don't think it's rude to give my own opinion, and though I grant that sometimes my opinions are edgy and occasionally I am even unapologetic about controversial things, I don't think this was one of them.

    As for a pen pal reading my blog, a great many of them do because I share this blog address with all of them by the first letter I send. I do not think there was anything offensive in this post at all, and nothing I wouldn't want these two lovely German gals to read. From the outset I have said to my many loyal blog readers (and identifiable, non-anonymous commenters) that this Letternet diversion was my experiment and I would keep them in the loop about the process, and this post was intended to do just that.

    Finally, I mistrust critical comments made anonymously.

  12. Kuddos to you missive maven for the comment about anonymous . guess people when they leave rude comments dont have the guts to get it back cause they always leave anonymous as their name . It would freak me out too and as far as attaching a picture on a resume no way in gods green earth if you cant hire me on my skills I sure as hell dont want to be working for you so you can gawk at me everyday . regardless of what I look like I have skills and i expect you to hire me for my skills not my looks . damn im fired up about this !!! LOL !!!

  13. I just signed up for letternet as a way to get new penpals. (I just got into letter writing about 6 months a go). I have had a similar experience to Ilona's with letternet. I got one penpal that speaks very little english, but sounds very sweet. Considering I don't speak any other language besides English, i have to give kudos for going out and learning another language. The other speaks very good english, and it sounds like we have more in common.

  14. It isn't a glitch that we non-German members of letternet cannot search for non-German members. When I received my mail with my address confirmation number I was told that I would now be able to search for pals all over the world. When that didn't happen I wrote and asked and the reply was:
    "At the moment, if you come from another country then Germany, there is no chance to contact pen pals from all over the world.

    We appologize for those circumstances!"

  15. I am german and aslo member of Letternet. I didn't like the old version of it and I didn't test the new one yet. No time for a new penpal. >__<
    I always send a photo in the first letter by the way! :D I want to know the one I write to and I think they too...

  16. Thanks for posting your updates on Letternet. It is interesting to read about other penpallers' experience with the site. :)
    I just wanted to say that so far you can write something personal on your profile. Go to this page:
    On the left says: "This example illustrates
    how your portrait will be published"
    So you write about yourself: here and Contact Club Management with your text. Suposedly they should publish what they call "comprehensive profile" in your own profile after checking it. I will give it a try soon!

  17. Penpalling and letters - I explored that option, but it seems to be just an example at this point, because I was unable to search for anyone else's profile other than the example one that's listed. I'm not quite willing to be such a guinea pig yet.

  18. It seems as an example in the website, but I was telling about it because I asked to Letternet. They told me that they would publish a profile like this after submitting my text in this form:
    and I have decided to give it a try.
    However, as you state, I didn't see such a profile yet. The site is very basic at this stage.
    By the way, lucky you as it seems you are satisfied with the pals you got through Letternet. I wasn't so lucky myself...