You have probably heard the phrase “pen pal” but are now wondering what is a pen pal? should I get a one? where would I find one and if I do what are the benefits? In simple terms pen pals which are sometimes referred to as pen friends are two people who write letters to each other but here is much more to having a pen pal than sending the occasional letter. In this guide, we will show you everything that you need to know so that you can go and find your first pen pal.
Table of Contents
1. Pen Pal Meaning
The Cambridge English Dictionary describes the pen pal Meaning as “someone who you exchange letters with as a hobby, but usually have not met:
And the Collins English Dictionary states that the definition of a pen pal is as follows: “A pen pal is someone you write friendly letters to and receive letters from, although the two of you may never have met.”
While it is true that the majority of pen pals/pen friends have never met when they first start writing to each other although after a while as their friendship grows, they may arrange to meet up. Many pen pals met on holiday or business trips and decided to keep in contact through writing letters to each other.
For these two widely respected organizations to state in answer to the question what is a pen pal? that it is merely someone you are exchanging letters with as a hobby or writing friendly letters too is completely inaccurate.
People have many reasons for becoming pen pals and it isn’t usually anything as simple as a hobby or they like sending friendly letters. It is about building a relationship with someone through exchanging letters and this can have many benefits.
2. Pen Pal Benefits
2.1. Eases Loneliness and Isolation
In today’s society, many older people are living on their own and feel lonely and isolated. They may not have any social interaction apart from the weekly shopping or a walk in the park.
Pen pals are a great way for people to expand their network of friends and they don’t even need to be in your neighborhood town state or even the same country.
It is not just older people who may feel alone, depression is a cruel illness that can affect people of all ages making them feel isolated and alone. Getting support is essential to overcoming it and people who are suffering from depression tend to withdraw even from their families and friends.
Some people find it easier to express their feelings to a stranger rather than a close family member. They find that it can help by writing down how they are feeling and sharing it with someone who has perhaps been through depression and understands what they are going through.
2.2. Learn a New Language
It’s been proven that writing down foreign words and phrases is one of the best ways to learn a foreign language. One of the most popular ways to learn a new language is by journaling if you can also find a pen pal who lives in a country that speaks the language you want to learn then this will rapidly accelerate your learning.
Having a pen pal does this in two ways they can help your understanding of the language by correcting and explaining any errors in your letters. In fact, it is just like having your own personal tutor without the expense.
By writing regularly and building a friendship it gives you the motivation to keep improving and learning their language so that you can communicate more easily in their language.
2.3. Learn About a Different Culture
Having a pen pal/ pen-friend is one of the best ways to learn about different cultures. Your pen pal will naturally write about what daily life is like for them. When you reply you will also be wanting to know more about your pen pals lifestyle and ask questions.
This gives you a great insight into what it is like in that country which is far better than seeing a news bulletin on CNN or a documentary on the Discovery Channel.
2.4. Making Friends with Shared Interests
Pen pals are an excellent way of expanding your network of friends who have the same interests as you. There have been many famous author pen pals such as J.R.R Tolkien and C.S Lewis but your shared interest could be absolutely anything from stamp collecting to cake decorating or even a sporting activity such as fishing or golf.
You may not be able to find a friend in your neighborhood who is a likeminded soul, but with pen-pals, you have the whole world to find new friends and all you need is a pen and paper.
3. How to Find a Pen Pal
Now that you know what a Pen pal is and the benefits that can be had by regular writing to each other you are thinking that’s great but where do I start, how do I find my first pen pal. There are several different websites and some are more suitable for younger people such as Pen Pal Schools or with a specific interest such as Write a Prisoner.
However, the following three websites are a great place to start.
3.1. Pen Pal World
Pen Pal World is one of the largest pen pal websites, it is free to join, and you can message 3 potential Pen pals per a day once you have signed up simply create a profile and then can browse through other profiles for potential Pen pals.
3.2. Global Pen Friends
Global Pen Friends is an established Pen pal website that is very similar to Pen pal World., you sign up and create a profile, Once signed up you can message other members but have to purchase credits to access potential pen pals email addresses.
3.3. Reddit r/penpals/
Reddit r/penpals/ is an extremely popular way of meeting new pen pals simply post a message and wait for a response. It looks like it is mainly younger people who use it, but Reddit is free to sign up and use it.
4. Pen Pal Safety Tips
The consensus is that having a pen pal is quite safe as the people engaged in most of these relationships usually live in different countries.
Unfortunately, there are however fraudsters about as with most things in life. So, the number one rule is Don’t send any money or give out your bank account details to someone that you have met online. we have written an in-depth post with our Top 5 Pen Pal Safety Tips that is well worth reading if you are concerned.
If you are uncomfortable about giving out your home address you could use a PO box although these are quite expensive. A better option is to start off exchanging emails and build up a relationship first before giving out your home address.