In Viikki, rental apartments are offered to students by many operators, from foundations to private renters.
The student village of Latokartano, which goes by the name of Latokylä, is a hub of student accommodation adjacent to Viikki, offering housing primarily to students of agriculture and food sciences of the University of Helsinki. Accommodation can be applied for by students pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Silvica, a dormitory of the Forestry Students’ Association Metsäylioppilaat next to Viikki Campus and Latokylä, provides inexpensive accommodation to students of forestry.
Inexpensive student accommodation from shared apartments to family apartments in Viikki is also available from the Foundation for Student Housing in the Helsinki Region (HOAS).
If someone had told me before I came to Viikki that I would spend my first three years of university living in a mixed cell apartment with ten people in a student village, and even enjoy it, I would have been thoroughly shocked. However, this did happen. Here is my story of how I became an advocate of cell housing.
In the summer of 2016, I learned that I had gained a place in the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry at the University of Helsinki to study agricultural economics. After the arrival of the entrance examination results, there was a rush to find an apartment. I'm from Central Finland, so I knew I could get to the top of the queue when looking for student housing. I immediately filled in the HOAS housing application; in addition, I applied for housing from the student’s association, and I also applied for an apartment on the private market. My preference was to move into a studio because I was used to living alone. I probably came across an advertisement for Latokartano's student village, Latokylä, in a freshman guide. In the end, I decided to apply for Latokylä as well, even though I wasn’t so keen on the idea of living in a cell apartment with nine or ten other people.
I ended up being offered a room in a HOAS two-person apartment and a room in a mixed cell apartment for 10 people in Latokylä. I chose Latokylä because it was closer to the Viikki campus, and I thought that I would only live there until I found a studio apartment. However, after living in Latokylä for about a week, I changed my mind, and I forgot about applying for a studio.
I moved into Latokylä's C-building at the beginning of my freshman year. At the time, our cell apartment was inhabited by three boys and seven girls who were at various stages of their degrees and completing a few different majors, but all were Viikki campus students. Many other freshmen had also recently moved to Latokylä, and I spent a lot of time with them in lectures and at student events. The older students living in Latokylä were really hospitable and helpful to us freshmen. Adapting to cell living was easy, at least for myself, and my circle of acquaintances expanded rapidly. The social aspect of living close to my classmates and campus was well suited to my lifestyle at that time, and I no longer thought about living elsewhere.
Of course, I also had some good luck. My roommates were easy to befriend, and they generally shared the same expectations and demands for cell housing as myself. My own negative prejudices about cell housing quickly turned out to be wrong. Our cell was always really clean, as the counters were wiped down immediately, and there was a roster for taking out the rubbish. Each Latokylä cell is visited weekly by a cleaner who cleans the common areas. You can also leave your belongings in the common areas without having to worry about something happening to them.
In the common areas of our cell apartment there was almost always some group, my roommates, and often our guests. All the residents and guests were welcome to hang out at the coffee tables and the movie nights; I never felt like I would not be welcome in my own home. However, if I ever longed for some peace and quiet, my own room offered a private space. I didn’t consider myself a particularly social person before coming to Viikki, but cell life has probably enhanced this side of me.
In my freshman year, I lived in one of the smallest rooms in the cell, which was 10 square metres, but the following year I moved to a 17-square-metre room in the same cell. I enjoyed living in this cell apartment for three years, and while most of my roommates changed each year, the sense of unity within the cell continued to be good. Eventually, I moved from a cell to a two-room apartment, which was in the so-called family houses in Latokylä.
It is clear that life in Latokylä is not for everyone. In a village with six apartment buildings full of students, one can hardly expect complete silence every night after the 10 o’clock news. Fortunately, I found that the double doors that lead to the cell rooms insulate sound well. Being comfortable in a student village certainly requires the ability to discuss and negotiate things with your roommates. You also need to be able to have fun with different people and be willing to be flexible in different situations. You may not be able to influence the kind of people you end up living with, but you can change your own attitude.
There are female and male only cells in Latokylä if living in a mixed cell is not your thing. Today, Latokylä's studios and one-room apartments may also be available more frequently for people outside the village, so living in a cell first may not be necessary. The houses in Latokylä are undeniably older and do not compare in terms of aesthetics to the brand new student units. Personally, however, I believe that getting to know people and enjoying this unique phase of life is more important than a flash kitchen or shiny bathroom tiles. For myself, these happy years in Latokylä will certainly stay with me, and the friendships I have made will last the rest of my life.
I moved to Viikki in the freshman autumn and have been comfortable here ever since. I am studying for a bachelor’s degree in environmental and food economics, and I am now finishing my third year. As a freshman, I first moved into a cell apartment, and the following spring I moved to a HOAS student studio apartment; my apartment has a small yard with a small cherry tree that is blooming right now.
From my point of view, the best aspects of Viikki are that the campus is within walking distance, and there is great access to the outdoors and nature. When you have morning lectures and individual mid-day lectures, it’s easy to leave the apartment when the trip to campus takes less than ten minutes. After your lectures, you can continue your studies in the library next to the campus. There are also many organisations that have their own facilities for studying and networking. There are currently four student restaurants in Viikki where you can always eat even if you don't have lectures every day.
Near campus, you will find a gym at Viikki Multipurpose House, more commonly known as “Monari”. I first visited Monari in the autumn of my freshman year, and I purchased a gym card to introduce a little exercise into a freshman year filled with events. Since then, I have renewed my gym card annually because of the short distance to the gym and their extensive opening hours. When exercising at Monari, you often come across other students from Viikki. Viikki also has an outdoor gym, and there are tennis courts close by, as well as a horse stable and the cliffs of Hallainvuori, where you can climb to the top to admire the sunsets. There are several grocery stores in Viikki. The largest is Prisma, which is located near the campus. Viikki also has a few restaurants and an Alko with a comprehensive selection. The CoolHead taproom has just opened in Viikki, and I will soon be testing it out myself.
Viikinojanpuisto starts right behind my home, and behind this are Viikki's jogging trails. Along the outdoor routes you can also get to the Viikin-Vanhankaupunginlahti nature reserve, the Viikin arboretum, bird towers to watch sea eagles, and in summer you can see the cows from the research farm. On beautiful summer days, you can cycle from Viikki to a picnic spot on Lammassaari or cycle via Herttoniemi and the seaside routes to the city center. I have used the city bikes this summer; there is a city bike station near my home, and there are also several others around Viikki. From Viikki, you can reach the city centre by bus in about 35 minutes.
As a counterbalance to studying, going out, and exercising, it is of course good to also enjoy the local student life. In Viikki, events are often held on the C-ground near the campus, and from there you can walk to home even if it is late. An evening in Viikki with my friends who live further away is often limited by bus schedules; they have to check that they have time to catch a bus or alternatively stay on a friend’s couch. On the other hand, events are also held in the city centre. However, Viikki is also a great place to be in your free time.
Overall, Viikki is a pleasant and green area where you can both relax in nature and enjoy a fast-paced student life!
Suvi, student of environmental and food economics