Most international students, like myself, make certain promises before we leave our home countries, a common one is to send postcards. What’s also common is the complete abandonment of the promise. At best, we send one postcard and consider our duties fulfilled. Here’s why:
The flowery meadow, the seaside sunset and the noir café, these describe the majority of postcards. The scenery is beautiful but is just the same sort of thing you find on postcards no matter where you are.
You’ve arrived at a quaint area that you like and find beautiful postcards. You applaud yourself for having excellent taste. It’s the postcard with a picture of the ocean under the starry night sky (also a cliche, but it looks nice anyway) that really makes you proud. Wait a second, where you are isn’t near the ocean. It’s Canada you’re looking at! Canada is on the card. Canada? You like Canada but don’t understand why a shop in the British countryside is selling postcards of the place. Isn’t there an unwritten rule that you can only send postcards from the places you’ve actually been to?
3. Personal input
Got your postcard? Time to write it! The criteria includes being succinct and legible. It should also convey that you’ve actually put effort into writing it, but not obsessed over it. It’s a tightrope walk. What kind of topics do you need to cover? How elaborate should it be? It’s almost as bad as writing an essay. Different recipients also require different considerations. What’s more, if they know each other, you must be very careful. Too similar, too impersonal, too different? You’re picking favourites. Sometimes, it’s just easier not to send a postcard.
4. Physical effort
If you’ve ever tried to send a postcard, you will know that it requires a surprising amount of effort. The distance from the nearest post box usually poses a challenge, even though you probably walk twice this distance to get to class and probably 10 times as far to shopping. Inevitably, you forget the stamp and the address of the person you’re writing to. It’s more of a chore than bureaucratic paperwork. By the end, you will have forced yourself to finish what you’ve started, but it will have soured you so much that you probably won’t send another postcard for a whole decade.
This is possibly the most challenging factor. After hunting down the perfect postcard, you don’t really want to give it away. After all, it serves as a memento of the places you’ve been and the experiences you’ve had. It finds a home, on a wall, on a shelf. You decide to keep it and send the next one you buy. Rinse and repeat. Before you know it you have developed a collection of postcards. At first it was just a small collection, but you begin to add every new postcard you’ve acquired. The more postcards you have in your collection, the more you want to add. Eventually the people you had promised to send postcards to will hold an intervention.