Teenagers in Tromsø


18 June 2013

Summer holidays have begun. In the city streets, high school students are enjoying their first few days of rest. Daniel and John, both seventeen years old, are on their way to the public library. They’ll have to occupy themselves until the end of August. A few steps away on the market square there’s Wictoria, but she’s not bored. She’s helping Ole sell souvenirs to tourists. Encounter with these teenagers from the Arctic Circle:

“I like to go fishing with my brothers. Either we fish from the dock, or borrow my grandfather’s small boat to go out to sea. We bring back salmon and trout.” Daniel was born and raised in Tromsø in a large family with six children. Like many kids in Norway, he loves fishing, but also mountain trekking and of course skiing. Outdoor activities are not lacking here. But for everything else, it’s a different story. “Life is boring here – it’s a small town and not much happens,” says John with a resigned voice common to adolescents. He dreams of going to the capital, Oslo, and becoming a lawyer. In the meantime, he’ll enjoy the summer, although according to these young people, the winter here is not so bad. “There are lots of lights in the city, and also the aurora borealis. It’s a different atmosphere, really nice.

Today it’s barely 13°C and raining. But two weeks ago the temperatures soared to 30°C, a record for the city, which made headlines in the local newspapers. “What do we think about global warming? Who cares? People here don’t care. The melting ice will most likely provide economic opportunities,” declared the two young men.

Wictoria is far from sharing this opinion. “It’s raining more than ever before, and the land is often flooded. I am really worried because I wonder what’s going to happen.” For the girl and her family, nature is paramount. They own a herd of reindeer. “How many reindeer? I don’t know. It’s like asking someone how much money he has in his wallet. It changes all the time, but we have more than a thousand.” Here in Norway reindeer meat is sold for consumption as a snack, Wictoria nibbles pieces of smoked meat. In addition, reindeer skins are used to make rugs, like the ones sold in the market. And Ole, the artisan with whom she works, carves the antlers as souvenirs for tourists. When she’s not at the market or at school learning to be a mechanic, Wictoria goes around with friends. “In the winter, I love to take long rides on the snowmobile, and I also do ice fishing.

Unlike John, Wictoria does not intend to someday leave her homeland. In fact, she’s never even been to Oslo.

Anna Deniaud Garcia