How to write the perfect letter home
Just when it seemed that letter writing was dying out, it’s becoming popular again. Maybe it’s because we’ve realised that nothing can replace handwritten mail. And if you’re studying abroad, it’s a much more personal way to stay in touch with your loved ones than messaging or texting.
Here’s our top 8 tips for writing the perfect letter:
1. Assemble your tools
A page ripped out of your study notebook and a cheap ballpoint pen won’t do – invest in quality writing paper or fun, colourful stationery. And grab some scissors, glue, stickers and old magazines too. Since you don’t do this often, you might as well enjoy it.
2. Take your time
We all take super-fast communication for granted, but letter writing isn’t a thing to be rushed. Set aside some time and find a quiet space to write your letter. Or better still, get your classmates together for a “writing home” session – after all, why shouldn’t it be a social thing?
3. Think about what you want to say
What have been the best parts of your study abroad experience so far? What have you seen, done, learned? Turn your letter into a story – write several drafts if you have to. Remember, a letter is supposed to entertain. If there aren’t balls of screwed-up paper under your desk, then you’re doing it wrong.
4. Get the layout right
If you’re going to do something, do it right. Find out about the traditional layout for handwritten letters, for instance, where to place the date and addresses. It’s one of those skills that’s worth knowing.
5. Don’t treat it like a text message
Avoid text speak, hashtags and emoticons – they don’t really belong on the written page. Abbreviations like “4” instead of “for” are a no-no.
6. Personalise it
Include some sketches. Add stickers. Make an image collage from magazine cut-outs. Spray it with your favourite perfume. Do all the stuff you can’t do with texts and emails. Basically, this is your chance to be creative and have the kind of fun you used to have as a kid in art lessons.
7. Include some mementoes
Add fragments of your study abroad adventure: random snapshots you’ve taken. A pebble you found on a beach. A coin from your host country. Anything to give your recipient a feel for the experience you’re having.
8. And finally…
Don’t forget to ask your recipient to write back. After all, half the fun of writing a letter is in getting a reply…
Happy letter writing!
Read our 6 secrets for writing a great essay.