USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences > Blog

June 9, 2016

Zhengzhou and on to Shanghai

Filed under: Class,Culture,Exploring,Shanghai,Uncategorized — Tags: — geachina @ 11:29 pm

By: Cindy, Anbar, Rowan

Our two days in Zhengzhou provided us the opportunity to devote more time to field work, while honing in our research focuses and enjoying the city. The nearly endless traffic meant we relied on public transit, namely the Zhengzhou metro which is currently in the process of expansion. We all started field work at Erqi Square, the main monument in Zhengzhou, which a few energetic members of our group climbed. For our group (Team C.A.R), the ubiquitous nature of electronic stores around Erqi Square was certainly advantageous. While the mobile phone advertisements were very similar to Hebi, the special organization of stores, as well as brands carried differed in interesting ways. Other groups had similarly valuable experiences, with team Bingbing finding sports stores they hadn’t seen before, and team Momo locating a large street devoted entirely to street food.

Zhengzhou from hotel conference room

Zhengzhou from hotel conference room

All the groups and Professor Sheehan rallied together for a group lunch, and for simplicity’s sake (and a sense of curiosity to see if there are any differences), we all settled for McDonald’s. At this time, many of the teams started seriously inventorying evidence acquired from fieldwork, and working on developing frameworks for arguments and final projects. Team C.A.R arranged all of our advertisement photos, and created a chart that reflected different categories based on price and reputation of the smart phone producer, and price of the actual models. After meeting with Professor Sheehan, almost all teams were struck with ideas over the framework of our projects, which we recorded on impromptu paper (McDonald’s place mats).

After having the opportunity to have Professor Sheehan join us on field work to an electronics mall, the class headed for an excursion to Haagen-Dazs. While pricey, the ice cream at Haagen-Dazs was fantastic, and some even considered ordering a second ice cream dish. Dinner was a similarly elaborate affair, with the class heading to hot-pot, where we were able to cook our own meats and vegetables in boiling broth, and see the process of noodles being prepared at our table. With full stomachs, we all retreated back to the hotel, to relax, work and prepare for the next day.

Brandon Cheung, Jacob Lokshing, and Rowan McEvoy enjoy dinner.

Brandon Cheung, Jacob Lokshin, and Rowan McEvoy enjoy dinner.

Wednesday was one of the few days on our trip without planned meals and excursion, which gave us the opportunity to further explore areas of interest and conduct field work. It was also our only class meeting on the trip, where each group made a presentation that included a preliminary argument, and analysis of evidence related to our arguments. While some students took the opportunity to sleep in, others chose to explore a series of underground shopping areas in Central Zhengzhou, as well as preparing presentations. After nearly getting lost trying to find a Walmart, we returned and all gathered on the 23th floor for our presentations- with a fantastic view. Our team’s tentative framework reflected differences in advertising based on the tier of the smart phone company and prices of phones, suggesting a move from a consumer driven focus on basic functionality to a focus on lifestyle and finally aesthetics. Team Momo’s presentation focused on experiential and spatial differences in snack foods, while Bingbing focused on the use of celebrities in advertising sports clothing in both Chinese and international companies. A main aspect of the presentation was the ability to get feedback and questions from Professor Sheehan and the rest of the class, which was particularly valuable in considering the direction and focus of our projects. The journey to Shanghai will be bittersweet because while we are all excited to get to explore and experience Shanghai, it marks the last stop of our trip.

- Team C.A.R

June 1, 2016

Team Momo and Co. Take China

Filed under: Beijing,Class,Culture,Exploring,Travel — geachina @ 6:21 pm

By: Brandon, Jonathan, and Jasper

This blog post is brought to you by Team Momo. When we last left off Team Momo and company were preparing for their flight to China… 

Luckily, the flight went off without a hitch: no spontaneous combustion, no emergency landing, and no casualties! The flight was incredible. We started in San Francisco, flew through Alaska, over Russia, and then finally arrived in China. Aboard United Flight 888, we were provided a robust selection of of in-flight entertainment. In addition, we were offered two meals: dinner and breakfast. The dinner options were either chicken and rice, or vegetarian. The breakfast options were either an omelet, or stir-fried noodles. For Papa Sheehan enthusiasts, let it be known that he selected the chicken and rice, as well as the omelet!

Upon landing, the first thing our class did was pick up our bags. We then found our Converse-loving tour guide from Super Vacation and boarded the bus to our first Chinese dinner! Though slightly underwhelming, Papa Sheehan assured the class that the best was yet to come. We re-boarded the bus, and finally made our way to the hotel. At this point, most of us were battling jet lag; however, we managed to make it to our rooms and a local convenience store before crashing.

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The First Supper in China!

Since most of us had passed out before 9:00 PM China time, we were all up and about by around 5:00 AM. We had our first hotel breakfast, and were pleasantly surprised! We can’t speak for everyone’s experience with complimentary hotel breakfasts; however, ours, in the words of Zachary Kennedy, was “spectacular.” As our first planned day of research, we had plenty of work ahead of us. We left the hotel at around 9:00 AM after we were each given a brand new Chinese SIM card. Our first stop was the Forbidden City! Unfortunately, Tiananmen Square was closed for the day, but Papa Sheehan insisted we would still have fun. As always, Papa Sheehan proved himself right, and the Forbidden City was nothing less than incredible!

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Global East Asia Scholar Anna Lipscomb poses for a “Bad Ass” Picture with Papa Sheehan

Afterwards, we drove to our first field site, and met our student helpers from Beijing Capital Normal University! Each group was assisted by either one or two students, all of whom were women, and left to start their research: Team Momo went on a snack food exploration, Team BingBing left to investigate celebrities, and Team C.A.R. went to investigate electronics.

After our research, the teams rendezvoused at a restaurant 5 subway transfers from the initial location. The meal was amazing! Brandon Cheung was thrilled by the pork belly and xiaolongbiao (dumplings), and insisted that he will definitely go again! After dinner, we once again split up and explored one of the Beijing malls. The architecture was stunning, and the food looked incredible!

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Class Dinner with our Amazing Beijing Capital Normal Students! Photo: Jonathan Kim

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Class Dinner with our Amazing Beijing Capital Normal Students! Photo: Jonathan Kim

 At around 10:00 PM, everyone was in bed and ready to sleep. We had a long a day ahead of us, with the Ming Tombs and the Great Wall of China the following day, and we were all ready to head to pass out!

Team Momo out!

 

May 30, 2016

Beijing, here we come!

Filed under: Beijing,Class,Culture,Los Angeles,Travel — geachina @ 11:00 pm

By: Zachary Kennedy, Anna Lipscomb and Jacob Lokshin

We can’t believe that these two weeks in LA have passed by so quickly! It seems like just yesterday we walked into VKC 154, spilled a few pretzels, and debated who is the best Bing Bing (Li Bing Bing or Fan Bing Bing? Choose your side. It’s also worth noting that this debate produced our group name – Team Bing Bing).

As the name suggests, Team Bing Bing will be examining the presence of celebrity endorsements in China. We will be especially focusing on foreign celebrities. We don’t know what exactly we will find in China, but we predict that there will be a mix of both foreign and Chinese celebrities used to advertise products. We also believe that foreign and western celebrities will be more popular and visible in more westernized, metropolitan cities such as Shanghai and Beijing than in Hebi and Zhengzhou. We also anticipate foreign brands to use foreign celebrities more frequently than Chinese brands. We will examine how these stars are used to advertise products related to their areas (movie stars advertising films, sports stars advertising sports products, etc) as well as products unrelated (food, technology, luxury goods, etc.).

Although Friday was our last official class, it’s only the beginning of Global East Asia.

After reviewing our trusty toolbox of knowledge about things such as deculturization, reculturization, and acculturization (a term whose definition is still being debated by the entire class), we discussed our readings on Shanghai and Zhengzhou. We also went over general travel information such as packing and currency.

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Professor Sheehan instills his knowledge and wise travel tips upon his enthusiastic pupils before they embark on their journey to a new hemisphere. He also shared a few thrilling stories of past GEA years, stimulating excitement and anticipation from the students about the adventures that lie ahead of them.

Although we come from a generation famous for being exceptionally tech-savvy, we were faced with our first challenge of many to come: installing the USC VPN on our phones and portable computers. Nevertheless, we put our minds together and overcame this obstacle.

We spent our Saturday scrambling to buy our sunscreens and bug spray (because it’s better to be safe than sorry, and Chinese insects are flying harbingers of death according to the USC Health Center), stuffing our suitcases full, emptying out our refrigerators, and contemplating the effects of globalization on our human existences.

On Sunday morning, we literally rised and shined. Between the times of 4-5 am, those of us on the group flight Uber’d to the airport (We encouraged Papa Sheehan to join the Uber bandwagon. Uber is now a Sheehan-approved mobile application).  Since we got there early, we had to entertain ourselves.

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As punctual Trojans, the Global East Asia students got to the airport 3+ hours early. While waiting for their flight, they passed the time by playing Sushi card games, working on this blog post, eating banana bread (thanks Papa Sheehan for looking after our empty stomachs!), and getting pumped for China (and internally panicking of the short layover time in SFO… oh, the joys of travel).

The 45-minute layover in San Francisco was quite an experience. Although our flight was only about an hour, we spent roughly half an hour sitting in the plane at SFO because we couldn’t get off since another plane was still at our gate. When we finally got off, we dashed to the international terminal – it was extremely close, but we made it!

Since we wanted to get adjusted to China time, most of us pulled all-nighters before (or we were frantically trying to pack our bags and figuring out where we put our passports). Therefore, most of us spent the 12-hour flight sleeping and watching movies/TV shows on our mobile devices. Some of us stretched our legs and walked around the airplane looking for snacks.

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A view of Beijing from the airplane window.

When we finally got to Beijing it was May 30th (thanks to the 15 hour time difference)! Although we may be a slightly jet-lagged, we can’t wait for all the adventures and stories and crazy experiences to come!

May 27, 2016

May 27th, 2016 Update

Filed under: Class,Los Angeles — geachina @ 5:24 pm

By: Anbar Aizenman, Rowan McEvoy and Cindy Wang

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Prof. Sheehan discussing Tourism in Beijing

We are coming to the end of our time here at USC and class is starting to wrap up. Professor Sheehan finished lecturing on Chinese history, so we have moved on to analyzing our the sites we will be visiting (Beijing, Zhengzhou, Hebi and Shanghai). The readings have also tapered off a little as we move away from analyzing scholarly articles towards less dense materials.

Over the past couple of days, we have been extensively reviewing our toolkit of useful concepts related to globalization as introduced through our various readings. The ideas should be a good way to analyze sources we find through our fieldwork in China. Here are some of the ones we have come across:

  • Spaces as places to be consumed
  • Having a flexible identity relating to consumption
  • The relative nature of tradition, as all traditions were invented at some time
  • More specific ways of defining hybridization

For our group’s project, we plan on looking at the cell phone industry in China. We want to figure out the differences between domestic companies and foreign ones in advertising strategies and marketing. Furthermore, we want to analyze middle-end and high-end phones in the same fashion. In terms of phones, the market is large enough that we implemented some limitations in order to give our project a better sense of scope. We decided to only focus on smartphones, and within the smartphone industry, specifically we want to look at those from Apple, Samsung, Huawei, and Xiaomi. Given the prevalence of these four brands, we should have plenty of data to work with.

In terms of locations for researching, we plan on visiting electronics malls, middle and high-end more general malls, individual retailers, and possibly even flagship stores. In addition to browsing the areas and looking at advertisements, we also intend on speaking with sales staff. Although Anbar knows very little Chinese and Rowan has taken merely a semester of it, Cindy is fluent in the language as she grew up in Hangzhou, China. We are therefore counting on her to get us through some interactions and make sure Anbar and Rowan do not make fools of themselves.

We leave for China on Sunday and look forward to keeping you posted on our exploits.

May 25, 2016

May 25, 2016

Filed under: Class,Los Angeles — geachina @ 5:24 pm

By: Brandon Cheung, Jonathan Kim and Jasper McEvoy

The whole group! Except Brandon...

The whole group! Except Brandon…From left: Anna, Cindy, Professor Sheehan, Jacob, Anbar, Zach, Jasper, Jonathan, and Rowan.

More than a week into the East Asian Studies Center’s Global East Asia program, we’ve already learned so much about Chinese consumer culture, and are excited to experience it firsthand when we fly to Beijing on Sunday. Unfortunately, that means jet lag and a lot of it! Just as soon as we’ve settled into our daily routine of preparing for class at 9:00 AM, we’ll be adjusting to the fifteen hour time difference between Los Angeles and Beijing. Nevertheless, the time we’ve spent in class so far has been a truly stimulating and enjoyable educational experience. During this time, we have immersed ourselves in the study of Chinese consumer culture. We read Lianne Yu’s book on the consumption patterns of China’s emerging upper-middle class, Consumption in China. We also read an article written by Eric Hobsbawm on the nature of tradition and customs, as well as a number of other thought-provoking readings relevant to our study of consumer culture in modern China. Our enthusiastic, board-game loving Papa Sheehan (as we affectionately call him) has provided us with captivating lectures on the history of globalization and China since the 1850’s–specifically, how we’ve come to identify how the nation has developed alongside as well as through consumerism. Some of the more relevant history we’ve studied includes: the power struggle between The Nationalist and Communist Parties, the rise of Mao Zedong and Communist China, and the emergence of capitalism after Mao. We have also discussed earlier Chinese history such as the Taiping Rebellion, the Boxer Rebellion, and the effects of Japanese imperialism. In addition, we’ve learned how to identify key features of Chinese geography (for example, what distinguishes North from South and East from West, as well as the Chinese border). We have also learned about international trade networks, such as the Silk Road and the Triangle Trade. However, most importantly, we were taught Sheehan’s Eight Rules for Historical Analysis:

1.         It’s all about the sources;

2.         Sources lie;

3.         Bad sources are better than no sources;

4.         Evaluate sources carefully;

5.         Explain, don’t describe;

6.         Don’t read the present into the past of the past into the present;

7.         Don’t romanticize the past;

8.         Think spatially as well as temporally — know your geography.

Professor Sheehan lecturing and flashing a smile.

Professor Sheehan lecturing and flashing a smile.

Using our daily reading assignments, Papa Sheehan has encouraged us to stock our metaphorical “analytical toolboxes” with terminology relevant to the course. For example, in Lianne Yu’s book, Consumption in China, as well as other sources, we’ve drawn important words and phrases like “neo-tribe,” “imagined community,” “glocalization,” and “deconstructed/reconstructed culture.” With these terms, we have discovered ways to precisely analyze consumer culture that we never thought possible, and some group members have even invented new terminology that has been useful in class discussions. The discussions themselves have been invaluable as well. It’s been great to hear everyone’s unique takes on the readings, and how we can find so many ways to relate a new concept to ones from previous days, to anecdotes from our lives that compare and contrast China and America.

Team Question Mark (in the foreground) and Team Bingbing work on their research proposals.

Team C.A.R. (in the foreground) and Team Bingbing work on their research proposals.

As we learn more about China, we have begun to prepare for our upcoming research. We have split into three research groups: one focusing on cell phones, one focusing on entertainment, and the last (our group) on snack food. In order to prepare for the field, we have taken time this week to meet with our groups and, using what we learned from lecture and discussion, discuss potential findings and other expectations. For our research, we plan to look at snack foods in the shopping malls and convenience stores of cities throughout China, specifically analyzing foreign influence on sweet snack foods.

Lastly, since meeting for the first time, our class has come to know each other and develop a close-knit sense of companionship inside and outside of the course. As a class, we’re on the smaller side (only nine students!), but what we lack in size we make up for in energy and enthusiasm… and Cindy — our only Mandarin speaking classmate. We’ve had an incredibly rich and memorable experience and look forward to many future Korean Barbeques! We are leaving for China in four days and absolutely cannot wait.

Brandon gets a Papa Sheehan fist bump.

Brandon gets a Papa Sheehan fist bump.

June 16, 2015

Last Day in China

Filed under: Class,Culture,Shanghai — Yunwen Gao @ 8:42 pm

By: Yunwen Gao

Now that all the Global East Asia (GEA) scholars are flying over the Pacific Ocean back to LA, when I am organizing the photos I took along the trip I still can’t believe our summer program has come to an end. As Professor Sheehan’s metaphor goes… “coming to China is like going through a worm hole, time is both elongated and shortened.” It feels like our GEA family has been living together for more than a year, and yet we have only been together for a month. I can’t describe how immensely this summer course has reshaped many of our assumptions about Chinese consumerism and globalization, for both the scholars and myself as well. As someone born and brought up in China, this trip to Beijing, Kaifeng, and Shanghai is a process of rediscovering China through a fresh lens.

The final day consisted of the final project delivery and farewell banquet. Despite the last minute rush, as any last day of USC courses would have, our amazing scholars delivered their final projects at a high level of professionalism and insightfulness. The Foodies (Christopher Carpenter and Alice Kim) examined fast food restaurants and food courts in shopping malls in Beijing, Shanghai, and Kaifeng with our course tools, and compared the fast food industries in first tier cities versus a third tier city like Kaifeng.

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The Foodies Take on China: Christopher Carpenter (left) and Alice Kim (right) presenting their final project

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The Fast Food Restaurants of China’s Malls: A Claim to Global Cosmopolitanism

The Skins (Phoebe Yin, Megan Lee, and Ashley Szydel) focused on the cosmetics industry, in particular, face masks produced internationally and domestically, and formulated their observation of the three prevailing models of marketing strategy, the luxury, mainstream, and niche models supported by extensive research and interviews.

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The Face of the Chinese Cosmetics Market: Megan Lee (left), Ashley Szydel (middle), and Phoebe Yin (right) presenting their final project

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The Face of the Chinese Cosmetics Market: The Faces of Globalization

The Arhats (Jonathan Peppin, Psalm Chang, and Michelle Ngan) took the issue of the commodification of religion in China and enriched the dialogue of globalization greatly. Their visits to jewelry stores, Buddhist and Daoist temples, restaurants, etc., provided us with a new picture of how religion has been commodified to convey the sense of piety, pragmatism, and playfulness. With the help of Professor Sheehan, all three teams successfully elevated their observations and analysis of Chinese consumerism and globalization to a whole new level.

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Commodification of Religion in Contemporary China: Jonathan Peppin (left), Psalm Chang (middle), and Michelle Ngan (right) presenting their final project

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Piety, Pragmatism, and Playfulness: The Temple Model of Consumption in Contemporary China and the World

As we were waiting to be checked in at the Pudong airport, some of us started analyzing the advertisements around us. Looking at each other, we realized that walking out of this class, none of us could view advertisements or commercials as we used to do without examining what’s behind them. As the TA of this class, I feel proud of everyone in this program just as Professor Sheehan does and look forward to seeing each of them succeed in the future.

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Proud Papa Sheehan!

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Farewell Banquet in Shanghai

 

June 12, 2015

Exploring the Temples in Shanghai

Filed under: Class,Culture,Exploring,Shanghai,Travel — Yunwen Gao @ 5:24 pm

By: Jon Peppin, Psalm Chang, & Michelle Ngan

It has certainly been a busy couple of days for us. We have finally made it to Shanghai, and wow what a cool city it is! Never imagined that we would get to walk on the Bund in person and see what Papa Sheehan calls the “architect’s playground” before our eyes. It’s very different than Kaifeng in that there are actually many tourists, which makes us stand out less. At Xintiandi, the Old French Concession, we explored high-end shops and enjoyed the refurbished buildings. We got to experience how bartering works (and sometimes doesn’t work) at the City God Temple area, with its numerous shops of souvenirs and different items.

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A look at the architecture of Xintiandi, the Old French Concession.

In terms of our research project, we have been working very hard at figuring out a concrete thesis that would then lead to smooth transitions and present our evidence-driven argument in the most effective way. Needless to say, we’ve had to tweak and sometimes even change our theses completely. Guess that’s why it’s called a working thesis. Once we got the thesis established, the structure of our research became a lot more clear and we are now working on finalizing our thoughts into a succinct 1600-2400 word essay, as well as forming our presentation to share with our class.

Today was our last day doing deliberate fieldwork. Yunwen was kind enough to show us how to take the subway and the bus. Without her help, we would not have made it to the City God Temple and Jade Buddha Temple as smoothly as we did. The City God Temple stood out to us in the sense that the temple seemed to be willing to move along with society, specifically with the presence of Daoist-themed iPhone 6 cases. The gift shop cashier claimed that all of the objects for sale were blessed (“kai guang”), so buying the items would almost give the consumer an added sense of security, thereby giving the temple added power in terms of its marketing to its consumers. Our long morning doing fieldwork ended on a delicious note when Yunwen brought us to her favorite noodle shop, which is part of the Jade Buddha Temple site. We each had mushroom noodle soup–yummy!

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The Arhats and the amazing Yunwen enjoying bowls of mushroom noodles at the vegetarian noodle shop at Jade Buddha Temple.

It’s hard to imagine that our 2-week trip to China is coming to a close soon. We will definitely remember these days even after departing… taking this course has also been such an eye-opening and significant part of the trip that only added to the wonderful experience here.

June 3, 2015

Exploring Beijing!

Filed under: Beijing,Class,Culture,Exploring — Yunwen Gao @ 6:20 pm

By: Ashley Szydel, Phoebe Yin, and Megan Lee

Today is Day 4 in Beijing (A.K.A. Bae-jing…we have to entertain ourselves somehow.) for this 10/10 group!  (There are 10 of us, and each one of us is 10/10 on a scale of 1 to 10 Sheehan points.)  If we were typing this in Chinese, we would have omitted the number 4 because it sounds like the word for death and is considered bad luck. Since we’re typing this in English instead, we’ll let the 4 stay.  We cannot believe that we were just in a classroom in Los Angeles half a week ago!  It seems like it’s been an eternity since then.  However, we think it is safe to say that everyone is having an absolute blast in China!

So, although today was Day 4 and the number 4 is associated with death, our Day 4 was in no means death-like.  It was, in fact, CHOCK-FULL of life, energy, enthusiasm, and the like as we visited Tian’anmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Hutong, and a few other locations.  This was quite a feat, considering that some of us had climbed to the very top of the Great Wall the previous day – mad props to these lion-hearted individuals!  If this synopsis of the day’s festivities has piqued your interest…read on for more pure entertainment from the scholars of Global East Asia China 2015.

We began the day with a visit to Tian’anmen Square, where we marveled at the People’s Hall and the enormous portrait of Mao Zedong.  As you can see, we scholars got some serious air in the photo below.  Here, we also see an impeccably dressed Professor Sheehan in his element at Tiananmen Square.  As a side note,  tomorrow, June 4 is actually the anniversary of the protests at the Square.

GEA China 2015 at Tian’anmen Square

GEA China 2015 in front of the portrait of Mao Zedong.

Professor Sheehan

We then visited the Forbidden City (but not so forbidden anymore).  It was larger than we expected, with so many nooks and crannies to explore.  Some of us wandered around the first plaza of the City for quite a while before we realized that there were a plethora of plazas (how’s that for an alliteration) beyond, waiting to be discovered.  A few places of interest in the City are the Imperial Garden, Hall of Mental Cultivation (where some green bean popsicles cultivated our taste buds), Concubines’ Quarters, and Throne Room.  In one of the photos below, we again see our wise and agile Professor Sheehan enjoying the view.  Infinite Sheehan Points were awarded to him, he is the Father of Sheehan Points, after all.

GEA China at the Forbidden City

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Professor Sheehan enjoying the view

We then took a rickshaw tour of a Hutong, which was a time of great merriment for all.  Many a rickshaw was given a friendly kick by the riders in the other rickshaws as they passed by, while we rolled through the streets of the Hutong.  No innocent bystanders, riders, or rickshaws were harmed during this process, we assure you. Though, we may not be able to say the same for egos.

Rickshaw race in 3, 2, 1…

Following the rickshaw tour, we proceeded to have lunch at Heping (Peace) Restaurant, where we consumed a myriad of delectable dishes and encountered French-Canadian tourists.  The food in Beijing is absolutely exquisite, and we are sure that we do not speak for ourselves when we admit that it is tough to stop helping ourselves to more!  At the end of the meal, we struck power-poses to re-energize and re-focus our bodies and minds in preparation for conducting fieldwork at Wanfujing.  There, the Foodies looked into the contextual relationship of fast food chains, the Skins took note of the marketing strategies of skincare products, and the Grab Bags analyzed religious icons in jewelry.  On a scale of one to a lazy Susan, we were at the most productive end of the spectrum (not the lazy Susan side).

After a quick class session in which we presented our research thus far, we ended our day with a fine dinner of Peking Duck (a famous delicacy of the city for good reason)!  And that, was the finale of our lovely frolic in the capital of China. Bright and early tomorrow, we’re off to Kaifeng!

June 2, 2015

Beijing Day 2!

Filed under: Beijing,Class,Exploring — geachina @ 11:01 pm

By: Jon Peppin, Psalm Chang, & Michelle Ngan

It’s hard to believe that we have only been in China for three days! In that time, we have been able to learn so much about the culture here in Beijing.

We were warned by Professor Sheehan that today was going to be a busy day, and he definitely wasn’t lying. One of the most amazing things we did was climb the Great Wall — specifically, the Juyongguan section. It was truly an awe-inspiring and tiring experience! Most of us were able to climb past four guardposts. Ashley, Psalm, Jon, Chris, and Professor Sheehan took it to a whole new level and made it up to the farthest part of the portion by climbing past seven guardposts, thereby earning official Sheehan points! The view at the top was simply breathtaking. Just imagining the amount of effort that went into building the wall, with its uneven steps and two distinct sides to the wall (i.e. one side being taller to keep the Mongols out) made us realize what a privilege it was to be there. When we made it back down to the bottom of the mountain, we rewarded ourselves with some iced tea and ice cream. Thanks Papa Sheehan!

Depiction of the victory of 4 students who gained official Sheehans for making it to the highest point of the Great Wall (Juyuguan section) and of course, proud Papa Sheehan.

Depiction of the victorious 4 students who gained official Sheehans for making it to the highest point of the Great Wall (Juyuguan section) and of course, proud Papa Sheehan.

Before climbing the Great Wall, we went to see the Ming tombs, particularly the Changling tomb, the tomb of the third emperor, Zhu Di and his wife, Empress Xu. An interesting fact that our tour guide told us was that even though there were 16 Ming emperors, there were only 13 tombs because the other emperors were buried outside of Beijing, in Nanjing. There were several parts of the enormous tomb: Ling’enmen gate (Gate of Emminent Favor), Ling’en Hall (Hall of Emminent Favor), Minglou (soul tower), and Baoding (where the Emperor and Empress are buried).

The Sacred Way was a nice breath of fresh air after being in the sun. We strolled through the path, which the emperor would walk through on the way to the Ming Tombs, except we went the opposite direction, since we had just come from the Ming Tombs. This stop was an example of dis-embedding because we were viewing the Sacred Way as a tourist attraction by stopping to take pictures and admiring the scenery. This was contrary to what would have happened at the time it was built or what the emperor used the path for.

To get a more modern perspective on Chinese architecture, our tour group then journeyed to the heart of Beijing to view the national symbols of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It was truly awe-inspiring to look upon the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube up close; it’s crazy to imagine that it has been 6 years since Beijing hosted the Olympics––we were just 6th, 7th, and 8th graders at the time! Oh, and we can’t forget Chris’s 15 seconds of fame when a mob of ladies decided to get pictures with him in front of the Olympic buildings. Mr. Carpenter then proceeded to talk about nothing except his claim to fame, and his plans to take Kaifeng by storm.

GEA China 2015 perched in front of the nest.

GEA China 2015 perched in front of the nest.

Just a bit about our research project progress- we, the “grab bag” group, were finally able to narrow down our topic by focusing on the pervasiveness of religion through various forms of expression (e.g. restaurants, fashion, and electronics). We’ll be conducting more field work tomorrow!

May 29, 2015

Taking off to China Tomorrow!

Filed under: Class,Los Angeles — Yunwen Gao @ 1:32 am

By: Ashley Szydel, Phoebe Yin, and Megan Lee

Group discussion on plans for research in China

Group discussion on plans for research in China

It has already been two weeks since the first day of class. Everyone is so nice, extroverted and intelligent, which makes the class all the more enjoyable. The friendly environment of the class, along with such a benign professor has made us look forward to our upcoming journey in China even more. Within only two weeks of lecture, we have gotten a basic understanding of Chinese history and dived into its consumer culture since day one. Once mysterious and exotic, this East Asian country has slowly begun to reveal itself in front of our eyes.

To begin with, we want to express our excitement about taking off to China tomorrow. The idea that there is just one day of class in Los Angeles left is thrilling, even more so when we think about all there is to come in the next two weeks. The ability to take the information we have been learning in class and apply it to our on-site research is definitely something to look forward to. As we pack our bags, we couldn’t help but wonder all that lies ahead in China. What we’ll experience, what kinds of exotic flavors we’ll be tasting, what beautiful sights we’ll be seeing, and last but not least, what research we’ll be doing for our final project are all questions we are asking ourselves.

For our group’s project, our initial idea is that our final research project be focused on the forms of cosmetic brand advertisement in China. We are more specifically concentrating on marketing strategies as displayed in advertisements by three higher-level brands such as, L’Oreal, Lancome and Estee Lauder, as well as three lower-level brands in China such as, Da Bao, Xiao Hu Shi, Pehchaolin. Marketing strategies employed by different cosmetic companies vary in China when compared to other countries. Exploring the Chinese consumers’ perceptions of beauty, we want to see how these perceptions affect Chinese cosmetic companies’ advertisements. Moreover, how foreign cosmetic products were modified to appeal to Chinese consumers is an additional interesting point to explore. Last but not least, we made the interesting discovery that brands with foreign counterparts are considered higher-level and domestic brands are often seen as lower-level in terms of their status and price. We hope to take these ideas and further understand the difference in marketing among higher-level brands when compared with lower-level brands of cosmetics in China. With our departure quickly approaching, we look forward to sharing more on our adventure in China shortly.

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