Finnish Shopping Centres - Success or Disaster?!
Hei, hei :)
Today I would like to share my shopping experiences with you. BUT from the perspective, which is not connected so much with buying&finding cool things (or the material side), just to give you an overview how the Finnish shopping malls look like. And how do they make me feel. Firstly, it is important to note that I am not an expert shopper, a woman, who knows everything about fashion and follows the latest trends. I go shopping when I need to buy something specific, something which is needed. Also, I visit shopping centers for meeting purposes, they usually have great restaurants & cafeterias. I have been honored to visit various shopping centeres around the world, all sepcial in their own way. Most expressive examples are in Dubai (ex. The Dubai Mall). Therefore in Finland, I have felt very strange feelings while visiting certain centres.
When I lived in Oulu, they opened 2016 Shopping Mall Valkea, which is the biggest mall in this area. The mall includes about 60 shops, department store Sokos and 66 apartments. Sounds like a great place! Especially considering the fact, that in Oulu there is not much to do, or not many places where to go, Valkea came very popular from the beginning. They advertise themselves as a great gathering place, which is welcoming all people. The concept is good, therefore as always, people understand it differently. The shopping center turned out to be a place, where just to hang around. Every time when I had to visit Valkea, I felt disgusted and tried to spend as less time as possible. It was full of teenagers and multicultural guys, who just tried to create or keep connections. I honestly do not have nothing against teenagers (surprise, surprise, but I have also been a teen), but it was weird to see 13-16 years girls, who were covered with make up, dressed like they are going to the party and just hanged out there. Moreover, multicultural adult guys who were targeting these young girls. It was never one sided. Young girls loved attention, and multicultural guys were willing to offer it. Funniest moment was, when one parent was chasing his daughter around the mall. In my heart, I just felt sad, because there are some certain reasons why these youngsters have chosen this place to be there "second home". And I as a future parent, would not like to see my kid/s hanging out in the shopping malls, I truly hope they find more meaningful things to do. Moreover it is not cool to see kids eating there some chips and drinking coca-cola, while sitting on the ground, in the corner. Why are you not eating at home? Why you do not have dinners with your parents? So many questions, and no answers. That time, I was also working in one school in Oulu, and I raised my concern also in there. And asked from teachers, what do they think about it. Some of them said that the situation has only gone worse, and they try to avoid Valkea. Also they have talked about it during their lessons...to guide their students for understanding that there are other things to do, more meaningful activities. Moreover, they admitted that nowadays parents spend less time with their kids. Busy lifestyle has its own outcomes. Sad, very sad! And from Valkea side, if you have advertised your center to be a gathering place, please provide something to these youngsters, who just want to hang around there. Build somewhere a "Youth Corner", which is just for them, where they are able to communicate, build connections, play & read, spend some meaningful time. OR create some special events ("Mingling hours/days/evenings") once a week/month (be creative). For teenagers (who maybe sometimes also read my blog), please try to understand that it is not cool way to live your life! Attention is great, but there are so many other ways how to get it. Moreover, covering yourself with make up, and dressing yourself as a "party girl" during the week, may give wrong signs. Find a hobby, do sports, be part of voluntary organizations, create something cool with your friends, read books etc. And multicultural guys! please find a life! Build up a meaningful life, where hanging in the shopping centres is not MUST to be activity during the day/evening, there are other ways how to create connections. ( ex. online is full of different meeting sites, where you truly can find people, who are searching new connections). And dear parents, guide your children and keep your eyes on their lives. We all know, that the teenage years can be quite challenging. Been there, done that :D Therefore, it is just one phase before becoming an adult. And from my own experiences I can say, that this stage needs guidance and support...
Therefore, now when I moved to Espoo, I have experienced another shopping centre- Iso Omena. It has over 200 fashion, leisure, interior design shops. Moreover they have connected private and public services into the centre (library and a healt care centre). My respect! Especially for an idea, to add library into shopping centre. Few days ago, I visited the library...I was positively surprised! Youngsters have their own room in their, where is ex. billiard board. It provides a special space, where young people can integrate and communicate, also to read books. Wow, it is truly nice concept! Therefore, some teenagers have not found their way their and they still enjoy being around. My partner even told me that there was a news that teenagers are chasing each other in the grocery shops, while destroying products. How is it possible? Go in the nature, there is much more space, besides that fresh air, which will only do good. However, I need to admit that overall it is still more peaceful place, where to be, compared to Valkea. Therefore, my small mind still do not understand, why teenagers like to hang out in the shopping centres? Are you really so bored? I totally get the point, if you meet your friends, go shopping, or to the cinema, or visit cafeterias & restaurants. But just hanging out, without any meaningul reason...it just do not fit into my mind :( Moreover, I do not get the point or meaning of shopping centres, what is their purpose? I respect that all the sellers speak English, and are very polite and caring towards the customers, but overall situation may require some changes...If it continues like that, I totally understand people, who have chosen e-shopping, besides visiting shops physically. It is just not pleasant and enjoyable. From the educational perspective, we educators should guide our students to find meaningful activities, which truly has some purpose and gives some value to their lives. These two shopping centres are just examples..of course I have visited many other places as well. And I need to admit that the situation is quite same...some places have more multicultural guys hanging around, and some more teenagers. For me, shopping in Finland is enjoyable only with my partner or with my friends, because then I really feel comfortable.
To conclude my thought, I truly respect the effort what for example Iso-Omena has done (ex. library), therefore the message should come from different levels that just hanging around in the shopping centres is not cool! And there are other things available. Finnish schools have so many great extra curricula avtivities for kids. Moreover, Youth Centres are providing great activities and workshops. There are many ways to do sports, whatever you like and love. Just figure out, what do you like to do...and go for it. Choose something, which gives you a purpose and grows you as a person :) And multicultural guys, please find a life! As I wrote, being in a different culture and hanging out in the shopping centres, will not provide you many tools for integration. It is just weird! And your future girlfriends/wifes you can find also from other places (ex. online sites). AND please respect people, who are visiting shopping centers with a purpose! :)
Thought for the day:
"You were created for something awesome. Find your purpose." - G.R. Smith
See you soon :)