• Summer 2018 UK

First Day in Bristol: A note from a student

It was a gloomy morning in our first day in Bristol, but the harbor still shows the vigorous side of its urban life. Retail stores and cafes on both sides of the dock were getting ready to welcome the first groups of customers, while the cruise boats started their first sail of the day. As the sunlight shed through the cloud, we boarded one of the cruise boats and began our journey in Bristol in the afternoon.

Small as the sparrow is, it possesses all its internal organs. This Chinese old saying best describe the city of Bristol. Along the Floating Harbor, historical landmarks and modern office buildings merge into the city's landscape. Under the glamorous landscape of the city, it is hard for us to connect the harbor with the history of slavery. Bristol used to be an important hub of the Atlantic Triangular Trade, as its location on the west coast of England gave its ships the advantage of sailing to and from the New World. Nowadays, the city has already transformed to one of the most economically resilient cities in the UK, housing a wide range of small and independent businesses. The contrast between the old and the new along the harbor provided us with essential clues of how this city had developed from an old trading port to a diverse economic powerhouse.

After getting off the cruise boat, we had our own free time to investigate the city block by block and prepared for the field work of the next assignment. Walking in the city center, we found fragments of evidence that show the old trading history of the city. The old exchange building on Corn Street, which used to be the trading area during the 18th century, is now an office building and St Nicholas Market. Its surrounding area is still a prosperous commercial district, not for trading slaves and tobacco, but for sharing art, culture, and lifestyles.

Bristol is a place full of life and energy. The evening scene of the city is even more lively. Standing at the shadow of the bus stations are people commuting back home from work. In less than few feet away, children are playing with the fountain on the square enjoying their careless summer. The people are injecting new life to the place. Bristol impresses us with its strong historic commercial atmosphere as well as its vitality. In the depths of the city, there are even more treasures left for us to explore. 

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