Doerz through the eyes of a foreigner in Finland

by Pia Brückner


At Doerz, we help people to offer ’memorable stuff to do’. But what is the stuff that we will recall vividly in future? As an eager traveler and immigrant in Finland, I have often wondered about that.


When I was a marketing intern in the German tourist sector, I wrote a bunch of articles about tourist destinations. The articles basically revolved around the questions: What sights should I take in? How do I ensure I’ll make the most of my stay here? The answers, in contrast, revolved around a couple of usual suspects which the publishing house had chosen: museums, river cruises, funfairs, spas. But would people truly hold these memories dearly?


I myself had made the nasty experience that sightseeing can become habitualized, like getting dressed or doing the dishes. My semester abroad in New Zealand, for instance, had literally pushed me forward to my true self – which is the best we usually expect from a journey. My heart had pounded at the sight of the Remarkables in Queenstown, a mountain range I recognized in The Hobbit later on. I did enjoy that view, I took a lot of photos – but after an hour and a half, I finally fell out of love and headed for the gondola. Moral: Even though things are extraordinary by nature, one’s feelings about them may wear down as time passes.


So how to extract the ’extraordinary’ from a stay abroad, or from everyday life? One of our primary solutions at Doerz is our great emphasis on socialising events: cooking with like-minded people, a beer tour, office yoga, cocktails in Turku, downhill riding. For Doerz it’s not so much the place where you go that counts, it’s having ideas and getting connected. Things that we share with others are things that we will remember.


With that emphasis, Doerz goes beyond traditional assumptions about how people share memories. As an immigrant in Finland, I joined a language and integration course. The first things I learned about Finland were what cultural analysts call the ’collective cultural memory’ – historical events, holidays, customs. The trouble is that this concept may remain somewhat vague and not tangible, especially to outsiders – which often was my experience. I remember some of the carefully constructed phrases I wrote for homework: Uuden vuoden aattona Suomessa syödään perunasalaattia, nakkeja, suklaata ja sipsejä.We learned that on independence day Finnish people watch an old war movie on TV or the broadcast of Linnan juhla, where Finnish politicians and VIPs in white tie behave like German carnival revellers. But what did it all mean, in the end? If I ate a torte on Runebergin päivä, would this make me ’Finnish’? Again it felt like sightseeing, habitual and detached. Curiously, things that are habitualized can’t be shared with others. They hardly ever involve emotions, so they are soon forgotten.


Cultural events become an experience if they provide a personal access. Like a vespa tour around Turku, or a sauna-barbecue at the Archipelago Sea. Or, we may come together to revive some common knowledge: In an age of fast-moving consumerism that artificially reduces the operation life of daily items, Doerz uses the modern means of digitalisation to help people share the old-school ways of how to polish and maintain leather shoes.


I like to think of my own fond memories as being stored and managed in a picturesque wooden cupboard (in this case I prefer a non-digital haptic image) that I can open and skip through whenever I wish. After all, our memories constitute to a big deal who we are. It’s worth taking care of them.


Pia was Doerz Intern in Spring 2017. Thanks Pia for your awesome work!

Photo by Joakim Honkasalo @jhonkasalo

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