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Cultural Impression of Warzsawa

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Submitted By emerdale
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My First Impressions of Poland
I arrived to Poland by plane on February 9th 2010. Though all the residents looked as if they were freezing, the weather was not bad. Many people have an image of Canada as being a 'frozen wasteland' in the winter, but much of Canada is very mild during the winter. One of my first impressions of Poland was that, as far as temperature, the winter climate is much the same as where I live in Canada.
During my first walk to SGH, I noticed that the sidewalks, roads, and the parkways (area of plants between the road and sidewalk) were covered in garbage - when this garbage remained for weeks, I began to wonder why nothing was cleaned up. The question came to mind, 'does anyone here care what their city looks like?' The Polish students in Sabinki told me that they never give money to people on the street because there are many easy jobs that the government provides for them to make money. After I learned that, I really thought that no one cared; however, always in my mind was the expectation that there would be a 'spring cleaning' after the snow stopped precipitating. Now that spring is here, my hypothesis was shown to be correct, and there has been a large change in the amount of garbage in the streets, even the roads, sidewalks and medians have been well swept - it is quite pleasant.
One thing that I now realize is very important for me, and something that I took for-granted, is excellent air quality. Since in Canada the wind has a tendency to blow to the east, the air that I breathe is fresh, and relatively pollution free, ocean air. Sometimes I do not notice the air quality in Poland though sometimes I feel like I need to cover my mouth. The smell that really gets to me is not normal emissions - sometimes I experience the toxic smell of poorly burnt oil. A friend of mine has an old oil burner that he uses to burn his used engine oil - it is quite entertaining because when he opens the cap, where the oil is added, a massive flare of fire shoots up a few feet into the air and it belches a plume of black smoke that can be seen wafting in the air for a distance of more than one hundred feet - this is the smell that I experience regularly in Poland, and sometimes, when my dormitory room window is open, I get that smell inside my room. According to my friend, one time a flock of small birds flew through the smoke and literally fell out of the air. Another of my first opinions of Poland was that the air quality was very poor.
Though Warsaw is a very big city, I noticed that it did not appear to have traffic problems. The town where I live does not have a subway – public transportation is conducted through buses: the system is poor and there are large wait times. One thing that I really like about Warsaw is that it is easy to get around – there are many subways stations, plenty of bus-stops, and many vacant taxis. One of first impressions of Warsaw was that transport was very well thought out. I am pleased that it is easy to get around this city.…...

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