Roman Schatz – Foreign Integration Success stories

Roman Schatz is one of the Finland’s most well known Foreigners. Schatz has been busy integrating himself into Finnish Society since his arrival in 1986, but he still revels in calling himself Finland’s Foreigner. Being a foreigner has not only allowed Schatz to add something new to Finnish society, it is what sets Schatz apart in Finland, and gives him his popularity.

Schatz’s recent popularity as ‘the foreigner’ is due to a book that fondly pokes fun at the oddities of Finnish culture. Schatz’s book, From Finland with Love, takes a look through the eyes of a foreigner and touches on everything from the Finnish Sauna, to their obsession with formula one racing. The book has been used as a guide for foreigners coming to Finland, a good laugh for those already here dealing with a freezer burn style of culture shock, as well as a way for Finns to curiously seek a way to find out what ‘others’ think of them.Schatz grew up in the small town of Konstanz, Germany where he was raised by a musician father, and a photographer mother.

By age of fifteen Schatz already dreamed about becoming a writer, and later moved to Berlin to study language. It was in Berlin that he met a very beautiful blonde Finnish woman whom he would pursue all the way to the Finland.

Shortly after arriving in Finland Schatz placed an ad in the newspaper advertising himself as, “A young author from Germany teaching German and French,” recalls Schatz. From that ad he acquired a few clients to which he gave language lessons. Eventually finding himself working with a publishing company writing language books for schools.

His first job in Finland, however, was working as a helping hand at a retirement home in a German community. Later Schatz started working with the Finnish Broadcasting Company doing short wave radio. From there he moved on to writing and producing a number of programs for the Finnish Broadcasting Company, including a series of language programs, travel programs, and even a multicultural show.

Recently Schatz has taken on the role of an entertainer. His  program Ähläm, Sähläm, is a series of skits put together that poke fun at both Foreigners, and the Finnish alike. He has also appeared in the Finnish version of the TV show Dancing With The Stars.

The real break though for Schatz, however, is his book, From Finland, with Love released in February 2005. Since it’s release Schatz has been featured in many publications around Finland. Schatz has also released another book, Rakasta Minut (2006). “Its a fake autobiography,” says Schatz, “It tells the story of a German immigrant who comes to Finland, and his experiences.” The book is 240 pages, written in Finnish. One of the biggest key to Roman’s success was conquering the Finnish language.

The best way to learn about a new culture is learning the language of that culture, according to Schatz. He never took a class to learn the language, but learned by integrating himself. Though many can attest; learning Finnish can be quite challenging at times, Schatz advises “Don’t give up, be resilient”. Even learning a few words can be beneficial to the experience in another culture. “Go where no one speaks your language, and speak!” says Schatz. He then adds half sarcastically,“have a relationship with a native, it’s the ultimate integration.”

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