Going off to university for the first time is no easy feat. Especially if you happen to be an international student whose home lies 6,000 miles away— which just so happens to be my case. I can’t say I much enjoyed suddenly being that far away from my entire family, which is as close knit as they come. Nor did I enjoy the absurdly inconvenient time zone difference. Yet what I learned to appreciate more and more during my time here was the art of old-fashioned mail.
On the day of my first long haul flight to Scotland, I remember walking out my front door with tears saying goodbye to my family and making my mom promise to send me mail. I’m not sure why this felt like the appropriate last thing to say to her, but all I wanted was something that reminded me of home once I arrived to what I would soon call my new home.
And she did just that. When I moved into my hall in St Andrews, I received texts and well wishes from my family and friends which I so appreciated. But nothing compared to getting my first parcel from home – it was then that I had a whole new appreciation for my loved ones.
Ever since getting here, I’ve found a love in the old method of communication with family. I’ve sent letters to my grandparents, postcards to my cousins, and chocolates to my parents. And in return, getting the care packages and random surprise letters from family and friends is a feeling like no other.
The first couple of weeks here, my birthday rolled around. Usually, my mom makes my favourite cookies for me every year. And she wanted to make sure that this year was no exception, even if I wasn’t back home. I never even asked her to do this but out of pure love she baked homemade cookies that day, sealed them shut, and ran to the post office to get them sent across the ocean.
With the help of express delivery and a determined mom, the cookies were meant to have arrived within a mere three or four days. Instead, what I got was a lost package for multiple weeks and crumbling cookies. When they finally arrived, the cookies were on the very brink of being inedible.
This might’ve been the point where I’d be crushed and annoyed after my mom went through all that trouble, but instead, I felt a pang of sweetness and care at the thought of my mom baking away in our kitchen, creating the cookies by hand and wrapping it up for me. And that was what mattered.
The art of sending letters, parcels, postcards or whatever you can put a stamp on is something that has diminished slowly over the years with the rise of email and texting. Yet that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold any less value compared to the typical blue and green conversations had through pixels. Rather, I’d argue that I have felt a stronger connection and deliberation through the physical, heartfelt communication of mail.
Now, I look at my bulletin board which is filled with the letters I’ve received since being here, filled with memories, photos, perfume scents, flowers, and more. It may seem trivial or worthless at times when you could just send off a text, but I see the love that fills my room that could only be completed with a piece of my home.
Putting consideration and care into each word and feeling you choose to express within the limits of a piece of paper, allows you to reflect much more than typing away every thought that crosses your mind. Whether it’s to a grandparent, a friend, an old teacher, or a pen pal, I encourage you to put your pen to paper and find the time in a busy week to send some mail.