Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

Posts tagged "germany"

It’s been a while since we’ve had a spotlight interview on the blog, but we haven’t forgotten about them! Today, we’re happy to interview Courtney (aka ColorfulCourtney), who is the from the USA but lives in Germany and is a fan of archery! If you’ve been hanging around in the forum, you might have interacted with her already, as she’s quite active there, helping newbies and answering questions.

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

I was still living in the U.S. and trying to find Christmas postcards, which are not so common there. On Amazon I saw many reviews of cards where people said “These are perfect for Postcrossing, ” or something similar. I decided to find out what this “Postcrossing” was, and signed up.

I think it was the Forum and doing tags that got me hooked, because I was able to exchange more cards while I was still limited in what I could send on the main site. Now I hardly ever do tags, because I can have more traveling than I can afford to send, and I like the random element of the site.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!
ColorfulCourtney Postcrossing Spotlight

I have made my mailbox into a postcard – the last time I sent it out was as DE-6420999. This postbox is across the street from the library. There is one closer to my house, but I do not use it as often. Also unfortunately the other postbox is routinely vandalized, which makes me both sad and angry.

ColorfulCourtney Postcrossing Spotlight

I store my incoming postcards in boring random boxes, I’m afraid! But I do display some of my favorite current cards in a mirror in my living room.

ColorfulCourtney Postcrossing Spotlight
What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

That is also a really hard question. I love getting great postcards and messages, of course, especially when it is clear someone put a lot of time, effort and heart into them. Sometimes people send me amazing bookmarks for the library – I recently received some beautiful handmade ones that were so creative! I also like picking out cards, writing them, finding the right stamp and washi tape, etc. Over all, though, my favorite part is when I get a “Hurray” message from someone who especially appreciated what I sent to them. Then I feel super all day, and cannot wait to send more cards!

Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

That is a super-hard question, because I like so many cards for so many reasons, often because of what is on the back or something someone slipped into the envelope. I have some of the cards on my “Favorites” wall where I actually do not like the image at all! But I love what the person said on the back, and seeing the image reminds me of that.

ColorfulCourtney Postcrossing Spotlight

If forced to choose right now I guess I would say for the front image, NL-3817868 from Aafjeknuffel. In my profile I say I like old cards and also ask people to tell me something that makes them smile. She sent me a beautiful vintage card, together with a self-painted postcard that illustrated the things in life that make her happy. It literally made me cry a little bit, it was such a happy card!

Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?

I was totally surprised that my first card came from Finland! I did not know at the time how active a Postcrossing country it is, and it seemed very exotic to me.

Is there anything that you are passionate about?

“Passion” is a pretty strong word. Postcrossing has made me passionate about our postal system. It makes me so angry when people intentionally under-postage cards, when vandals deface mailboxes, when the government wants to reduce mail delivery, things like that.

Outside of Postcrossing, my “think global” passion is about trying to achieve what I call the Star Trek universe, where the Earth is at peace, and poverty, oppression and violence on our planet are things of the past. I am especially passionate about women’s rights and I wish that women and girls all over the world had the rights and opportunities I have enjoyed growing up and living in the U.S. and now Germany. I worry a lot about the progress we are making as a planet, and about women’s rights, and the condition of people in general, slipping away in many areas of the world.

ColorfulCourtney Postcrossing Spotlight

My “act local” passion is our Gemeindebücherei, the town library. I was a librarian in the U.S. and after moving here I wanted to get involved in some sort of volunteer activity. Long story short, since 2016 I have been the town librarian, and work as a team with another volunteer assistant. We are both really passionate about reading and books, and about trying to get people to see the library as a vital resource to the community. You can see a picture of the library in DE-6500814.

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Receiving lots of mail definitely has its perks, and one of them is all the pretty stamps you get from all over the world. I carefully cut them off envelopes and end up stashing them somewhere, waiting for that one person who collects stamps, or for the inspiration for a crafty project to strike. Sadly, most of the time they just end up forgotten, waiting for Marie Kondo to come around and ask whether they spark joy…

Bethel stamp initiative

But they can bring joy! Patrick (aka patric) from Germany brought Bethel’s stamp initiative to our attention and we wanted to share it with you, in case you’d like to make your stamps work for a good cause. Here’s Patrick, explaining the concept:

Some time ago, I became aware of the Bethel charity here in Germany. They have a simple concept: the charity employs 125 adults with different handicaps. Members of the public make donations by sending in stamps. New stamps, old stamps, German stamps, foreign stamps… The workers there open the incoming mail and sort the different types of stamps into categories. These are then weighed and put into packages and are sold to dealers and collectors. Because of the stamps being sold by weight, they have the name “kiloware”. Believe it or not, the charity gets 400 shipments a day! That is 29 tons a year!"

Simple, right? You too can help Bethel thrive! Make a pile of stamps, or set up a collection box in your office or somewhere people might contribute. When it’s full, send it to:

Briefmarkenstelle Bethel
Quellenhofweg 25
33617 Bielefeld
GERMANY

And that’s it! Bringing joy and cleaning up in one fell swoop… Marie Kondo would be proud!

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We all know how it works: find a nice postcard, write it, and mail it off. Then, after a few days, weeks or even a little adventure later, our postcard finds its way into the recipient’s mailbox. But what happens in the meantime, after we post it on a postbox? We’ve written about mail sorting centers before (e.g., here, here or here), and the magic that goes on behind the scenes… but it’s always nicer to see it with your own eyes, right?

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

That’s what a group of curious postcrossers in Germany thought too, so they got together some time ago, and asked Deutsche Post for a tour of a mail sorting center — which they got, due to their persistent and persuasive requests! They turned it into a Postcrossing meetup, took pictures, sent postcards and even wrote about it for our viewing pleasure. 😊

Here are Claas (aka Speicher3) and Christine (aka Reisegern), the meetup organizers, to tell us all about it:

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

In the morning of June 19th, we were welcomed by employees of Deutsche Post to the “Briefzentrum 28 Bremen” (that’s the official name of Bremen's mail sorting center). This is one of more than 80 sorting centers for mail in Germany, that every day process about 66 million letters from 140,000 mailboxes throughout the country. So this is the place where postcards come to after postboxes are emptied.

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

Wow… they take quite a tumble! We could even see what happens to letters containing keys, coins or other loose parts when going through the machines. Can you imagine? You’d better not send things like those on a simple envelope…

The mail that arrives is sorted by size, and then a machine checks the postage and puts a special cancellation mark on the mail. Perhaps you’ve already received a postcard with a postmark from Bremen?

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

It shows the outline of this distribution center’s zone of responsibility and one of the city’s landmarks: the Town Musicians of Bremen (a donkey with a dog, cat and rooster standing on top of it), from the famous Grimm Brothers fairy tale!

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

A machine further down the line reads addresses. Did you ever notice the orange bar code on postcards from Germany? This code is printed onto the card in the sorting center, and it contains all the important information about the card’s destination.

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

There are plenty of impressive machines in the giant, busy hall of the sorting center. Within those machines, letters and postcards dart back and forth at breathtaking speeds.

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

As soon as a Postcrossing postcard makes its journey through all these machines, it finally arrives in a yellow box, together with hundreds of other letters and postcards, which will be sent to the sorting center closest to the recipient’s address. And from here, the postcard will be delivered by a mail carrier to a happy postcrosser.

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

If the postcard is being delivered to another country, it will instead be forwarded to the international sorting center in Frankfurt, where it will be delivered via air mail. Every day, busy and focused employees make sure that our mail will be delivered quickly and reliably.

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

Postcrossers were visibly impressed by all the machines and the dizzying speed at which our postcards passed through the sorting center.

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

After the tour was over, the meetup participants did what is a traditional part of every postcrossing meetup: sitting together, talking and writing postcards!

The cards that were written during this special meetup didn’t need to take the detour through a mailbox though — about 1000 of them were mailed directly from the inside of the sorting center in Bremen. The participants gained insight to the world of mail delivery and learned a lot about the adventurous journey of their postcards!

Visiting a mail sorting center in Bremen

A big thank you to the Deutsche Post and the friendly employees of the sorting center in Bremen, who enabled us to have this very interesting day.

Thank you Deutsche Post — and thank you Claas and Christine for this wonderful report!

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We’ve met Chrissy (aka teamug) on the yearly International Postcrossing meetup in Bielefeld a few times already and, true to her username, her tea mug is never far away… but neither are her letter writing materials! So we decided it was time we had her on the blog. Here is what she had to say to our interview questions:

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

I first heard about Postcrossing through a monthly magazine of the post office. There was a report about it and I loved the idea immediately. I always loved to write, especially to stay in contact when living abroad. It is so nice then to hear from people at home.

When emailing started, people always said it would be so much faster and of course would not cost postage – and that writing cards and letters was so old fashioned. So even after I finally had an email address, i still would not hear more of my friends. I noticed that people did not become more reliable keeping in contact with the cheaper and faster method. No matter how much I wrote – either by real mail or email, the replies were less and less.

So the concept of Postcrossing where people HAD to write to you the moment they receive your address – well, I just loved the idea. And I love to hear from people, no matter if known or unknown to me. Real mail is so much more valuable. Emails can never replace that.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!

I rarely see my mailman, since he comes when I am at work. And he’s always in a rush when I do want to say hello to him on a Saturday. But I managed to take a picture of the bicycle he uses!

teamug Spotlight interview

I love the fact that in big cities in Germany, bicycles are still used as many people live close together, and it allows easier access than vans.

teamug Spotlight interview

My local post office and letter box is not too far away (just two minutes by bike). But I often use different ones, depending on where I am when I have cards ready. I might drop off the mail straight after work when driving through town, or on the weekend, when I am at home. The photo shows the nearby letter box with a small post office next to it. It even closes for two hours during lunch time, like in some small village. ;-)

teamug Spotlight interview

Because I received quite a number of cards, I have different storage systems. I started sorting by countries. Then I bought some collection folders where I started sorting different themes, like the US State cards, cities of the world, tea or birds. It is easier to look at the cards that way instead of digging them out of the box. Even though the folders are handy, I love nostalgic boxes which I get from my local Christmas cookie and ginger bread supplier, and I still use them as a filing system. It’s also a great justification to keep ordering those lovely goodies!

teamug Spotlight interview teamug Spotlight interview

There is a large wooden ginger bread box in which I collect the blank cards yet to be written, sorted by subject. Well, I have several of those and it seems I have even more new cards than received ones, because once one is an addict there is no getting away from buying cards. After all, we postcrossers know: for every subject or theme there’s a postcrosser happy to receive it.

What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

Of course choosing as well as receiving is both fun. The first because you read the profile closely and try to get it just right, the other, because of its element of surprise. But after three years of postcrossing I especially like the long term side effects.

First: The Hurray messages especially if they are really long ones. The fact that someone on the other side of the world or even the neighbouring town was totally delighted with what I came up with and expresses it in so many words.

Second: How much I learn about the world. Often people tell something about their country that I never knew before. I also google places, check out details of a city, village, landscape. I have learned so much even though I thought I was quite good in geography.

Third: I always loved English and read loads in the language and mainly watch films in English. But the fact that I write on a daily basis now, also long letters, as I have gained many penfriends, has really improved my knowledge of the language and I am very grateful for that.

Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

I have not one special card. It is hard to chose one as I have received so many. Lately I notice I especially like those where the postcrosser states that this is his/her first card. In my reply I always tell them how much fun they are going to have and wish them lots of cards. These first cards are very special to me. I clearly remember my first five sent ones and the major lack of patience I had waiting to receive my first card. And I was lucky because I received two first ones at the same time! RU-4364096

I also love to get a card in an envelope, with lovely handwriting, tea, beautiful stamps – where the whole thing is a work of art.

CZ-737931

Here are some other favourites: IL-22300, US-2142367, GB-395703, BY-1016437, CA-417611, RU-2783644, TR-257683.

Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?

Oh yes. Some countries gained independency since I learned geography at school, even though some are close and one is more aware. But for example I was not aware of Moldova. I also sent cards to Azerbaijan, Rwanda and for me surprisingly Åland Islands. I didn’t know that these islands have a flag of their own and are autonomous.

The most unexpected one was received by my son though, who got a card from Iraq. How great that someone there has actually internet access, this rather surprised me. I can imagine lots of this is being controlled. I think the secret to world peace is the communication and getting to know other cultures.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

I have little spare time, but I spend a lot of it reading, or watching films (90% of them in English). I love paper as a material (cards, letters etc…) so I also do calligraphy (the art of beautiful writing), drawing, painting and also took classes in bookbinding. Also, I can’t get past a book or stationery shop without browsing.

I enjoy photography a lot and hope to produce postcards myself. So far I did that only once.

And then there is also working in the garden which I find very recreational.

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Anke (aka MacKittens) hails from Germany and like her username says, she loves cats! She heard about Postcrossing on one of Schöning Verlag’s paperbags and has been with us ever since! :)

Here is what she had to say to our interview questions:

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

I have always enjoyed buying and writing postcards. I like pretty pictures. Then I saw an ad for postcrossing on a paperbag for postcards, liked the idea and I immediately signed up. I then checked my e-mail account every 5 minutes for a Hurray message. I was so impatient! I am much more relaxed now. I only check my account every 10 minutes.

Writing postcards is also tradition in my family. I think my father writes about 10 postcards per week to family and friends and my mother sends greeting cards with beautiful pictures she took herself. I sometimes use her pictures on my postcards – professionally printed of course.

MacKittens from Germany

I work as a teacher at a vocational school – so I enjoy being around people. I like to get in contact with them. Now with Postcrossing I have the chance to get to know people from all over the world. I love it. It’s fantastic.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!
MacKittens' postwoman

This picture shows my postwoman. She is THE BEST! My street is the very last on her trip so I get my post very late in the afternoon. But if I happen to meet her earlier that day she often tells me excitedly that I am going to receive some wonderful postcards. She likes it best when I receive postcards with cats. Just like me she is a cat-person. And if she has the time she even reads the message on the back. I like that. It is nice that even other people enjoy my postcards.

Have you met any other members in real life?

I have been to five postcrossing meetings here in Germany so far. The very first meeting was in Hamburg in August 2013 where I met frisendeern, mondkind and schlafmohn. We have been such good friends ever since and try to meet at least twice a month. I cannot imagine a life without them now!

Hamburg meetup

Last year, they persuaded me to come to the International Postcrossing Meeting in Bielefeld in organized by the most wonderful nordbaer. I was so scared at first but I quickly felt welcomed by everyone. As I said: postcrossers are kind people! Now I am addicted to meetings.

Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

Postcrossers are such kind people! I am often overwhelmed by the effort the sender made to please me. Just one example: In my profile I wrote that I am a huge fan of Ryan Gosling and I have received so many handmade cards with pictures of him! Thank you!!!

But to be honest: every postcard I receive is special. It is so interesting to read about the sender’s life. Rosie sent a postcard with the Prince Edward Island on it telling me that she was on holiday there – her first holiday in three years! Her job in a musical company kept her so busy. Sanna from Finland tells me that in autumn you can see many moose on the roads which can be quite dangerous; Angela from Taiwan writes about her sausage dogs who likes hugs – especially in winter; Katalonia from Finland writes that her oldest children have just moved out and she thinks it is exciting but on the other hand she also feels sad; Bonnie from China tells me that pandas are their national animals and they always look fat, and love to sleep all the time except when they eat bamboo; Maria from Russia admits that she just sat down at her desk to do some work but instead writes a postcard to me; Evy’s favorite movie is Amélie; and Judith from China is excited because it is her very first postcards she sends with Postcrossing – and these are just a few examples of the many wonderful cards I have received so far. I really liked this one from Lydia, who agreed to let me share it with you:

Postcard with a story
Have you inspired anyone else to join Postcrossing or start collections of their own?

I inspired my mother-in-law to join postcrossing. Now, whenever I come across a postcard with camels it goes directly to her address. She is even planning to do an English course when she retires so that she can write longer messages.

I also created a school account. Now I tell my students about postcrossing and have them write postcards. First, they usually look very skeptic. Writing is not really their “thing”. But then I show them the postcards we have received so far and let my students read them out loud. They soon enjoy the idea of Postcrossing and want to write at least one postcard. I encourage them not to write in German/English but in their mother tongue which makes them so proud! We have got a lot of foreign students. The postcards we receive at school I exhibit and there are always students standing in front of the pinboard during the break and reading the messages.

MacKittens pinboard
Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?
MG-118

I once received a postcard from Madagascar! The ID was MG-118. My lowest ID ever! Kate sent the postcard and told me that Madagascar is the fourth poorest country in the world and that she runs a charity there for poor children to go to school. Surprisingly the postcard took only 13 days to arrive!

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about my job. I like working as a teacher! My students are 16 – 25 years old. I prefer working with older students :-) At school I organize work placements abroad. They are funded by the EU so the students don’t have to pay anything. So far we have sent students to Birmingham, Portsmouth and Malta. But I just made a contract with a lovely lady from Tampere and another lovely man from Stockholm! So soon we will also offer wonderful Finland and Sweden as work placement destinations, as well as Poland because my father works there a lot and knows a lot of companies there.

I love organizing this! I believe in the importance of a united Europe. Getting our countries closer together is so important! Learning about foreign culture and language is fundamental for a better understanding.

And I am always so impressed by the language skills in foreign countries! In Scandinavia the people speak such fantastic English. When I compare that to my students I feel rather embarrassed. A huge barrier in Germany for improving one’s English is that ALL foreign movies or TV series are in German. I hate that so much! On German TV all the TV channels are in German. I know from other countries that they only use subtitles. That is such a huge mistake we make here. I wished there would be at least one channel on TV using only German subtitles… Sometimes I am impressed by the language skills of some students and when I ask them how they have learned such good English they tell me: Online role playing games :-)

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