This Is What Chinese Parents Do When Their Children Start University

Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty Images.
When we started university, we wanted to get shot of our parents as quickly as possible. If your parents took you out for dinner on the first night, you missed out on crucial alcopop-aided bonding, and if they overstayed their welcome any way, you were obviously a big baby. You were clearly the opposite of "cool". Well, try telling this to students in China, many of whose parents camp out in tents overnight to help them settle in, according to CNN. Chinese colleges assemble tents, named "love tents" by the Chinese media, in their gyms at the start of a new university year and allow parents to stay in them for free before they say their emotional goodbyes. Tianjin University in northern China has made the "tents of love" available for the last five years, while other colleges just provide mats and space on the floor, reported CNN. At Shantou University, some parents even shared with complete strangers because the tents proved so popular, Quartz reported. These arrangements are convenient for many parents (some travel thousands of miles across the country to take their kids to university). One student, Xiong Jinqi, a freshman at Tianjin University, said his parents made the 19-hour journey from southern China with him. "Going to college is a life moment and my parents didn't want to miss that," he told CNN. "My parents are eager to see what my life will be in the next four years." However, not everyone in China thinks it's healthy for teenagers to be doted on in this way. Images of the "love tents" have ignited debate on social media in China, with many saying both parties should have more independence. One Weibo user said: "They are 18-year-old babies. I moved in on my own," reported the Daily Mail. For many, the tents add to fears that Chinese millennials have become "little emperors" who can't and won't fend for themselves. However, many Chinese young people said they thought the "love tents" were perfectly justified. One Weibo user said: "I had too much luggage. My dad worried a lot. Honestly, I didn't even know how to catch the train in my first year," the Daily Mail reported. Overprotective parents aren't found only in China, of course. "Helicopter parents" are found everywhere, and colleges in the U.S. have even urged "velcro parents" to back off so their children can become self-sufficient. But it is thought many Chinese parents take it to another level. This is, in large part, due to the one-child policy, which was in place from the late 1970s until 2015, making it that bit more difficult for parents to part with their children when they go off to university, Quartz reported. It also means parents are particularly keen to stay in regular contact during term time, with many calling their kids every day. It's a wonder the students manage to get any work done.

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