(Note: This post was written by Laurel Regan (pen name Dawn Storey) and originally published in Windsor Square on January 3, 2012.)
When you visit a new place, your senses are assailed by unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells, and your brain immediately begins to form first impressions and compare these new experiences to that which is familiar.
For me, coming to Windsor didn’t involve leaving my country, learning a new language, dealing with culture shock, or any of the other issues one might face when moving to a foreign land; however, right from the first time I touched down at Windsor International Airport I was struck by just how different Windsor is from any other city in which I’ve lived.
I realize that the danger of first impressions is that they may not be completely accurate, and that once formed they can be difficult to change. I also accept that it’s rather unfair to compare two parts of the country and make value judgments based on those comparisons. Nevertheless, I’m going to take the chance and share with you just a handful of my strongest first impressions of the city I now call home.
I come from the land of wood and stucco, and right from the start fell in love with the solid history and character of Windsor’s many brick buildings. What amazed me, too, and was in fact a major factor in our decision to move to Windsor, was the type of home that could be purchased for what seems to me to be a realistic sum of money. Now that I’ve moved to Windsor, I love that I can walk around my own modest neighbourhood and be surrounded by character homes whose western counterparts existed only in the most expensive areas of my former city. I especially appreciate that here in Windsor a person doesn’t need to be extremely wealthy to realize the dream of home ownership. That’s the way it should be.
Back in Victoria it seemed as though road crews were set up in some part of town or other at any given time throughout the year, blocking streets and holding up traffic, and people did an awful lot of complaining about the inconvenience it caused to their daily commute. Until I came to Windsor, though, I never realized just how much that ubiquitous roadwork meant to the city! Admittedly I haven’t yet done an extensive amount of exploring in our new location, but I can say that my first impression of Windsor’s roads is that in general, they seem to be in terrible shape and are long overdue for refurbishment. Without an in-depth analysis I would guess that they got that way because of the climate (which, so far, hasn’t actually seemed all that different from where I’m from!) and remain that way because of budget priorities, but regardless of reason, from the perspective of a newcomer, the roads in this city are remarkably bad and, in my opinion, contribute to one’s view of the city’s prosperity (or lack thereof).
To my mind, one of the most lovely and valuable features of Windsor, one that is noticeable immediately upon arrival, is the ethnic diversity of its people and the tremendous sense of multiculturalism that pervades the city. I don’t quite know how to say this delicately and without offense (because certainly none is meant), but apart from seasonal cruise ship tourists and a handful of international school students, the faces of my former city were, for the most part, fairly monochrome. For me, seeing the many varied faces of Windsor and experiencing influences from cultures other than my own has been wonderfully refreshing and eye-opening, a beautiful reminder of all that I love about our country and its citizens.
For better or for worse, I look forward to seeing how my first impressions evolve as I become more acquainted with my new city.