Settling into Shanghai

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Lucy looking at produce during a spontaneous visit to an international market

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Personal Photo

My name is Liz and I am a rising junior at Davidson College. I’ve never been to China and couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity I  have along with my fellow Davidson students this summer. As a budding anthropology major I am learning about the importance of creating goals before you embark on a research project and the need for flexibility once you start your fieldwork. I am relatively new to the world of Food Studies, but after taking a class last semester that helped me learn more about this area of study, I am eager to take what I learned from the classroom and local community projects in Davidson, NC, to Shanghai, China.

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Food vendor on side street off of main shopping plaza

The brief time I’ve already spent in Shanghai makes it clear that food is a staple of Chinese culture. Food is everywhere! From the local street venders selling baozi to the bubble tea that is vacuum sealed after it is made for easy transportation around the city. We are immersed in food. The smells from the open shops on every street make that evident and if you need more than one of the senses to help orient you to the food here, there are huge yellow and red signs with menus and images of available meals on every corner.

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Menu options for food vendor near City God Temple

I’m looking forward to spending more time with the street venders and the small eating houses that seem to cater to the same people most days. I am beginning to see the effect that the consumption of food has on community building, if only in passing, and want to explore how this idea plays out in the streets of Shanghai. However, there is so much to learn while we are here so my research plans may change. My goals for this research trip are: to be open to the new information I receive and act on ideas that pull my interest even if they are not what I intended to study. I feel one of the best ways to get the most out of this trip is to look at issues that are accessible and the only way to figure out which issues are accessible is to listen up and pay attention to all the new food smells I am quickly growing accustomed to in Shanghai.