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.
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.
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