COMING OF AGE IN THE CITY. What Helsinki looks like to GENERATION Z kids. Pt.3!

When describing the now growing generation, many talk about the power of globalization. Today, more than ever, kids from capitalist countries across the globe can relate to each other, yet... There are always things that might make us different, the weather, for example.

CAPITAL R is spreading the "comming of age" article series internationally, still asking - how does the city feel like to Generation Z? What does the city bring to earthlings being born exclusively this millennium? And, eventually, is Riga any different to Helsinki in the eyes of the same generation?
capital r, capital riga, latvia, martins engelis
IINA, 15
I study at Helsinki Visual Arts School and I very like to paint and draw, and there are a lot of curses that teach me that. I sing and I used to play flute for 9 years, but not any more. Stopped playing it because I needed some creative freedom, a break. Now I’m thinking about starting to play piano, but most of time I just paint and draw.

LUMI, 16
I decided to go to the same school because I live to photograph, also draw and paint. There are not that many other places where I could get such education, so I though this could be a good opportunity. I first applied to the music and dance school because I play piano and sing, but was not enrolled. All of our friends are into arts, music and dance, so it seems to be a natural way for us to be in the creative scene too.

At first I thought about the Sibelius high school for music and dance. But now I just study at a large regular high school, Alppila, with like 600 pupils. There’s no specialization, but there is a large amount of courses you can take like arts, music, social studies. The vibe there is really nice, pupils from different backgrounds, so it’s nice to meet someone outside of music. This was my second choice. Didn’t get in the Sibelius music specialization because I had like 1 point missing. But then realized that I have done music for so long. We three were in the same music class in junior high school, so we enough of it for a while.

I was not pressured to try out any of this by my parents, I liked singing myself (have also played drums, saxophone, piano, trumpet). Maybe during the primary school the music classes were quite weary, nothing much else than classical music. A bit boring. So, in my free time nowadays I enjoy singing in a band during my extra class at a vocational school that plays jazz, blues, rock sometimes pop, basically everything. We were brought together by a teacher, and each of us made others try out very different music.

LUMI: I don’t really have any after-school hobbies, I very much enjoy chilling with my friends. But I really try to find a job that could be done after school. It’s theoretically easy to get one, if only you are ready to do it, but the payment is pretty much nothing. But you gotta start from somewhere, I guess. Maybe I could try out working at a café, but it really does not matter now. Getting money to move out from home would be what I’m aiming at.
TELMA: Coffee has created a big scene here in Helsinki. We all drink it probably every day at home, but also visit a café a few times a week. When it’s wintertime here, maybe we do it even more, because it’s so cold outside, and one can really do nothing else.
IINA: There are a lot of good coffee shops here in Helsinki with great atmosphere to hang out with friends and talk about things. If there were no cafeteries in Helsinki in winter, we’d probably stay at home. Even when the weather is not that bad, but it’s dark and annoying.

TELMA: We would probably go thrift shopping. Some of them are even joint together with coffee places, for example, Relove. Fashion is a really big thing in the city in general. Like Helsinki Fashion Week in July that has actually been about sustainability for maybe two years now. Even though it’s not a big event, it got a lot of attention, we also went there.

IINA: My best advice is to come to Helsinki in summertime in general – it’s light, everybody’s outside, the city really comes alive, otherwise you don’t want to be here when it’s rainy and snowy at the same time. When it’s summer, our favourite spot is Sompasaari. It’s kind of far from the centre, but there is this concrete dock or something, and we go there a lot for swimming and sunbathing. And there is also Tervasaari, it’s like a little island you can go to for a swim, and we used to hang out there a lot. That’s were everybody from our old class went when on some celebration, say, the school ending.

Then there’s Suomenlinna island. Although it’s very known among tourists because it’s historical, it is still nice during summertime for a swim or picnic. And Telma actually lives there!

I would also suggest visiting Helsinki for festivals like FLOW if you can get in, or any smaller ones. There is this event called the Helsinki Day with a lot of mostly free activities around the city, including a big free concert in Kaisaniemi park. I have been there many times and really enjoy it. Then there is Taiteiden Yö or “The Night of Arts” when everything begins after 6 o’clock, including music, exhibitions, installations and bunch of other stuff.

We also visit Turku and Tampere for music festivals, for example, Ruisrock. Otherwise, outside the capital, Finland can become quite dead. Helsinki is a whole different world. So many young people, young creatives, it’s very vibrant with a lot of art spaces like Kiasma, Exhibition Laboratory, Galleria Rankka or Forum Box or Kallio neighbourhood.

We like living in our city; while bigger places quite scare us, Helsinki is perfect in size. But I would like to try out staying somewhere else for a few years when I’m older, like, London, Stockholm or Copenhagen. My big dream would be Berlin, have been there many times because my mum is an artist, and she has had a lot of exhibitions.

LUMI: I actually would like to live somewhere else. I love Helsinki, but I also love big cities, the same Berlin. Would love to live somewhere in Italy too.

IINA: I have thought about living in Paris for a couple of years. I went there with my sister in spring and just fell in love with the city, its people and culture, the vibes. It was just so refreshing and different. But, at the end of the day, when I am 40, I would still live in Helsinki.

I also have many relatives in Tampere, so I spend a lot of time there. I like the city pretty much as it reminds me of Helsinki. Also worked there in another music festival call Blockfest last summer with one of my friends. It’s like a student town, so there’s a lot of people who live on their own, do things and go to places.
TELMA: The music scene has grown here so much in the recent years, that’s maybe my favourite part about Helsinki. Young females doing rap stuff, like D.R.E.A.M.G.I.R.L.S., who, for the first time together, performed a the FLOW festival in 2018, and it all just like exploded. I think that has changed my point of view a lot – got me into rap, thinking that it’s not only for the boys.
LUMI: All our friends are feminists, even the boys. It is even sometimes embarrassing to say you’re not one.

TELMA: By that we mean Intersectional feminism. Not thinking only from our perspective although considering that we are white, privileged women.

LUMI: I think because Finnish are so priviledged, we have many problems with racism (maybe less in Helsinki). When you go off the cities, there are a lot of close-minded people living in the countryside, even the young ones, that are not so wealthy and are scared of everything different.

TELMA: One thing that's wrong with Helsinki for sure is the lack of places to hang out if you have no money, to just chill, buy nothing. We might have the lucky opportunity to do it and sit here in Ihana Kahvila Baari, but there are youngsters who can’t do it; even in our friend group. Because of the lack of money they hang out in metro stations like Kamppi, and older people look down on them. That is another thing - the conservative, usually wealthy, older generations that are not so good for Helsinki. Everyone under age 25 is open-minded to almost everything, we respect everyone older, but this conservative side of the city is what despises the youth culture especially in the centre.
IINA: I find it weird when there are parts of the city with youngsters living next to old people, who have such big houses and flats, but they live alone. And I mean “old” when talking about the point of view, it does not need to be about the age.
TELMA: I personally don’t see my parents as conservative. Of course there’s a pressure to study, but I think it’s important. Sometimes, though, it feels like they have a thought of me having kids, a partner and mediocre job before I’m 30. I definitely don’t see myself there.

IINA: I used make-up a lot for some time, did many experiments with its colours and graphics on me and others. There was a period my parents had a really big issue with the way I looked, because I did not look “normal” or “girly”. But I admit that I wanted to be noticed, to stand out. Now they’re really cool with it, I also don’t do it that much any more. Thankfully there really isn’t any artistic stuff they don’t approve.
LUMI: There was also a period of time when our parents got mad because we would be spending time with our friends until too late at night. We would go home from school and then leave without answering our phones, we were testing our limits.
TELMA: Maybe we should be hanging out more somewhere else, like in the East side of Helsinki, because it sometimes feels like you live in a bubble. Everything is fancy, nice and cosy, and sometimes we forget to explore all the other sides of Helsinki.

But, after all, most of the youngsters here are actually “woke”, they think about the consequences of pretty much everything. It’s cool to be vegetarian or vegan and buy second-hand clothes or be into politics. And even if someone would do it just because it’s considered cool, does it really matter if that can get them to go vegan or buy less stuff? In my opinion, no. I think it’s good that it has become cool to care about these things.

IINA: For me it is important that everyone is equal, no one’s better than other person. And I think that young people should be more into politics. It shouldn’t be the old white men deciding everything, including our future. The people who make the big choices are all over fifty, and they are the people who get annoyed by the fact that a climate strike is blocking a driveway.