I need more mail in my life.
April 24, 2007 5:07 PM   Subscribe

How can I, a college student, get more mail?

I love receiving mail. Letters, packages, even brochures. It's such a thrill to open my mailbox in college and see letters for me.

No one I know writes letters by hand, though. I send postcards through PostCrossing occasionally, and do swaps once in a while. I used to order college/university brochures just so I'd get mail. And there's only such much I can buy on eBay (it's fun though!).

I'm in Australia. How else can I get mail? Are there any other websites that do mail projects, or send out mail? I'm fine with sending mail out too. Junk mail is iffy but I don't think I'd mind much (catalogues are fun!).
posted by divabat to Grab Bag (41 answers total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
Prisoners would love to talk to you.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 5:18 PM on April 24, 2007 [4 favorites]

Depending on your definition of "junk mail" and "iffy", you may be able to get yourself a tremendous amount of mail by filling out one of those sponsor-interest cards that show up in news and business mags—the sort with 50 little checkboxes, one for every advertiser appearing in the issue. Check off all of the boxes. Whammo: you'll be in catalogs and financial prospecta for months.

Note that I tested this theory ten years ago, using a US address; the international shipping barrier may cut down on effectiveness.
posted by cortex at 5:19 PM on April 24, 2007

Ah, maybe you'd enjoy joining Nervousness! It's a mail-art exchange site. So much fun!
posted by xo at 5:19 PM on April 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: How about posting a video on YouTube requesting postcards and mail from around the world ? It would be a variant of what Ryan Fitzgerald did last Friday, requesting people call him.
"Ryan Fitzgerald is unemployed, lives with his father and has a little bit of time on his hands. So, he decided to offer his ear, to anyone who wants to call. After posting a video with his cell phone number on YouTube on Friday, the 20-year-old told The Boston Globe he has received more than 5,000 calls and text messages."
ON MSNBC this afternoon he said that he had received 9,000 calls as of this afternoon. He's been making television appearances all day long -- TODAY, CNN, MSNBC, etc.
posted by ericb at 5:21 PM on April 24, 2007

You can always look around on the Internet for free samples of stuff. Not all of it will result in you actually getting anything (except more junk mail) but sometimes you can get a box/bag/whatever of something (maybe even something you can use).
posted by Godbert at 5:23 PM on April 24, 2007

Best answer: Hey -- do the YouTube video; post it as a project to MeFi Projects, encourage the rabble here to write ... then see if it takes off virally. Fulfill your desire to receive oodles-and--oddles of snail mail. Some fun and maybe 15-minutes of Internet fame.
posted by ericb at 5:25 PM on April 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

Free samples!
Why get letters when you can get stuff!
posted by Saucy Intruder at 5:33 PM on April 24, 2007

Buy something from an army surplus catalog/Sportsman's Guide. Just be prepared to open your mailbox and find a catalog with two chicks holding really big paintball guns on the front. If you're fine with that, my friend, you are gold.
posted by Comrade_robot at 5:37 PM on April 24, 2007

I'd be happy to send you a postcard every now and then!

The other day, my son got a Flat Stanley project in the mail from a friend of mine's second-grade daughter who lives in Canada, and we took pictures around Tokyo with Stanley and sent him back home. Which was fun for my son, who'd otherwise never receive any mail from overseas addressed to him, and also for my friend's daughter and the kids in her class, who'd probably otherwise never have see anything written in Japanese by a child close to their age anytime soon.

So maybe you could think up a similar project and send them off to friends and friends of friends, and have them send them back to you.
posted by misozaki at 5:41 PM on April 24, 2007

I like to write letters and I believe it is becoming a lost art. I still write letters to my friends once in awhile even though I also email them everyday. You want me to write you? Send me an email (address in my profile.)
posted by govtdrone at 5:43 PM on April 24, 2007

Oh god. You want junk mail? Give money to freaking charity. I get mail every day begging me for dough, some of which is from some extremely unlikely groups (eg I got a letter from Donald Trump recently inviting me to attend a seminar about how to be rich...to the tune of $300 registration fee. Need I say more). And Jimmy Carter inexplicably sends me Christmas cards.
posted by crinklebat at 5:43 PM on April 24, 2007

If you subscribe to a lefty magazine, you may get unbelievable amounts of mail warning you about impending fascism unless you donate a lot of money to various left-wing groups. Does that count as junk mail?

Along with prisoners, another group of people who appreciate mail are military personnel deployed overseas. In the U.S., there are specific organizations like Any Soldier which exist to distribute mail to them. You might look into whether there's something similar in Australia. Or you could send a letter to Any Soldier, but you'd have to be really careful not to say anything that could at all be interpreted as critical of U.S. foreign policy.
posted by craichead at 5:47 PM on April 24, 2007

Our recent differences aside, divabat, I used to send letters to Australia fairly frequently, and enjoy writing now and again, and would be delighted to do so again. Also, I have a large collection of airmail envelopes, 80c international stamps, and stickers. (Because no letter is complete without stickers!)

I, too, wish that letter-writing were not such a "lost art" in our day and age.

And the idea of setting up a MeFi card/letter-swap list as a project is, I think, fabulous. I was involved in a Christmas ("Winter Holidays") online card-swap a couple times, and have to say that it was one of the bright spots of those holiday seasons for me.

Just think how cool it would be to get Real Mail From Your MeFi Idols/Pals!
posted by po at 5:51 PM on April 24, 2007

Err, let's just say I know for a fact that if you subscribe to Adam & Eve (UBER NSFW), you get not only their free catalog but a TON of adult video ads and stuff.

Also craichead, last I heard is that you can't send a letter to "Any Soldier" due to security concerns. That might have been just for packages though. I'd recommend someone double check.
posted by champthom at 5:53 PM on April 24, 2007

You could get involved in Mail Art - the DVD How To Draw A Bunny on Mail Art original Ray Johnson might be a good start.
posted by forallmankind at 5:55 PM on April 24, 2007

Claim to be pregnant or about to get married; you'll get loads of stuff in your mailbox. Fire the baby formula samples to a food bank, or FreeCycle them (and the bottles, etc).

Adding the prefix "Dr." to your name seems to get a higher quality of junk mail, too.

Nthing free samples.

Buy stuff you'd buy anyway via mail-order, even just a few wee items. You'll get the goods and get way more mail.

I don't know how the marketing goes in Australia with magazines, but here, there's a lot of "Get three issues free!" -- "Just write 'cancel' on the invoice!" -- if you can keep track of cancelling the invoices, you could end up pretty flush with magazines.
posted by kmennie at 6:00 PM on April 24, 2007

Oh, i know. When I was in high school a lifetime ago, I did a project for Health by writing to a bunch of government departments and asking for their brochures. So on the strength of this, I did this Google thing. You could pick one a day to write to 3 years.

And this is the other - but I'm not certain these people don't want to use email.
posted by b33j at 6:06 PM on April 24, 2007

If you get a box of cereal or something that's slightly dodgy (or even if you're not impressed by the taste, if it's relatively new) call the Customer Service line on the side. It gets you free letters, a refund, and occasionally, free food.
posted by cholly at 6:41 PM on April 24, 2007

Keep in mind that if your college is like mine, your mailing address may change from year to year as you move around to different dorms and forwarding service may not be available. You might want to be careful about starting anything that will lead to difficult to stop long-term mail delivery, especially if you care about the mail or its going to be at all personal.
posted by zachlipton at 7:08 PM on April 24, 2007

Write letters to prominent public figures, especially politicians and royalty. Ain't nothin' like a form letter from the King of Sweden.
posted by Paragon at 7:08 PM on April 24, 2007

I'll write you.
posted by leapfrog at 7:15 PM on April 24, 2007

Get a pen pal or two? A quick Google search seemed to yield e-mail pen pals (only checked top two results, didn't try to refine search), but it should be pretty easy to find some pen-and-paper pal purists.
posted by amtho at 7:16 PM on April 24, 2007

You can also join several of the communities on flickr to trade Moo cards, little cards made from pics in your photostream. Here are a couple. They are lovely and they make interesting art when displayed. (I'm lhall on flickr; I'd love to trade or even just send a couple to start your collection!)
posted by lhall at 7:22 PM on April 24, 2007 [2 favorites]

In the U.S., you get tons of mail from when you register as a member of a political party. If you give even $1 to a politician or organization, you'll get mail from scores of politicians and NGOs.
posted by HotPatatta at 8:39 PM on April 24, 2007

I too did the requesting college brochures back in the day. That was fun. Another thing you might check out is the tourism offices of the various states in Australia. Each US state has one and I would be surprised if Australia's didn't. Another source is vacation packages from airlines. I would imagine that embassies and consulates in your country would be glad to send you stuff as well.
posted by mmascolino at 8:48 PM on April 24, 2007

Oh my goodness! I love getting mail too. Send me a letter, I will most definitely write you back!
posted by thebrokenmuse at 9:27 PM on April 24, 2007

Yes - mail art. There are a few exchanges listed there, and you can find more by googling "mail art".

Also, do what we weirdoes used to do before there was an internet: find and subscribe to zines, which are small-circulation handmade print magazines.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:44 PM on April 24, 2007

Try doing something like Letters From a Nut.
posted by flod logic at 9:45 PM on April 24, 2007

Best answer: How about posting a video on YouTube requesting postcards and mail from around the world ? It would be a variant of what Ryan Fitzgerald did last Friday, requesting people call him.

The Ryan Fitzgerald story is a perfect example of what to do, but not how to do it- the man didn't upgrade his cell phone plan prior to starting! Eeeee big bill! Moral for you: if you want random people from the internet to write to you, get a P.O. box.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:51 PM on April 24, 2007 [2 favorites]

You could write absurd letters to businesses and political figures, just to see what kinds of stuff you get back. Don Novello has a cottage industry doing this in the US, as "Laszlo Toth" - here's one of his books of fake letters and the real replies. (It's the US Amazon site, but you can see an excerpt that gives you a sense of his letters)
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:59 PM on April 24, 2007

Perhaps you could stop paying your bills for a while. Within a couple of months there will be all kinds of friendly letters arriving in your box.
posted by DefendBrooklyn at 11:32 PM on April 24, 2007

Book swapping sites such as bookmooch, or paperbackswap could provide you with a consistent stream of packages, as long as you have some books you are happy to swap.
posted by Touchstone at 12:45 AM on April 25, 2007

1) Join the International Pen Friend club. They encourage people to write letters instead of email. You get a list of people from all over the world to write to. You can specify which countries you prefer.

I was a member when I was a teenager and it was heaps of fun.

Also consider joining up in the next MeFi music swap if you haven't already.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:43 AM on April 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you want a more interesting class of junk mail, buy a travel magazine and fill out the sponsor interest card mentioned above found within. (I guess you don't even have to buy the magazine, just pop out the sponsor interest card).

I did this once and got all sorts of great maps, brochures, etc. from places around the world. I actually learned some things and they were also good raw materials for art projects.

Possible side effects include wanderlust and the sudden urge to go to Singapore.

posted by mikepop at 6:15 AM on April 25, 2007

Just wanted to jump in on the "I love snail mail! Write me and I'll write you!" bandwagon.

In my younger and more naive days I used to make pen pals through message boards, chatrooms and ICQ. Even though I thought it was OK in my own weird teen logic because I usually chose people I'd talked to for a while and had a kind of rudimentary screening process of my own, it probably wasn't the safest or smartest thing to do.

That said, I can say from experience that yes, pooling from an existing community you're a member of is one way to do it. (MefiLetterSwap type of thing? Yes? No?)
posted by kkokkodalk at 8:29 AM on April 25, 2007

I'd write to you also, Divabat.
posted by cass at 8:56 AM on April 25, 2007

Start up a PostSecret kind of thing, except for letters instead of postcards?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:25 PM on April 25, 2007

As an addendum to Saucy Intruder's suggestion, you will find lots of AUSTRALIAN samples and freebies at ACC. I get lotsa mail every day!
posted by mjao at 2:06 PM on April 25, 2007

Donate some money to an organization of your choice. They'll send you mail for years.
posted by tuffbunny at 4:54 PM on April 25, 2007

I like requesting tourist information and university calendars. So satisfying to get thick packages in the mail.
posted by loiseau at 5:17 PM on April 25, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the ideas! I already donate to orgs though I've noticed they've stopped sending me mail lately. The day after I posted this, my mum sent me a card out of the blue. Aww.

I've taken up the suggestions of some of you and made a YouTube video asking for mail. I've posted it to Projects and am just waiting for approval. I've also emailed some of you - I'll email the rest.

mjao: the ACC requires an Australian ISP address, which I don't have.

Once I do something on the list I'll mark it as a "best answer". Thanks guys!
posted by divabat at 3:08 PM on April 26, 2007

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