Thousands of parents camp out in Chinese university 'tents of love' to help their kids settle in

By Kirstin Buick
07 September 2016

Would you sleep outside your child's dorm?

Bidding your baby farewell when they go off to university or college isn't easy for any parent. But these Chinese universities have come up with an innovative way to make the separation process easier. Maybe.

PHOTO: tju.edu.cn/newscenter PHOTO: tju.edu.cn/newscenter

Protective parents of new students at colleges across the country can now spend the night on campus with their kids in "tents of love" set up all over the grounds.

PHOTO: tju.edu.cn/newscenter PHOTO: tju.edu.cn/newscenter

According to MailOnline, Tianjin University in north-east China has been setting up tents like these for parents for four years now.

PHOTO: tju.edu.cn/newscenter PHOTO: tju.edu.cn/newscenter

Since them, other universities like Northwestern Polytechnic University and Guangdong’s Shantou University have done the same. The tents have been dubbed "tents of love" or "tents of compassion" in Chinese media. PHOTO: tju.edu.cn/newscenter PHOTO: tju.edu.cn/newscenter Tianjin University reportedly allows mom and dad to spend up to three nights with their kids while they settle in, with full access to the gymnasium's toilets and showers. The institution also supplies fresh towels, mats, drinking water and cups. They just ask that parents let them know beforehand if they'll be staying, and for how long. Other institutions have set up hundreds of mats in communal areas.  

Most Chinese parents only have one child, Quartz points out, as a result of the 1979 government policy, which makes saying goodbye to their children especially tough. "Making the situation even more fraught, many children entering universities in China are the first in their family to do so," the outlet's Echo Huang Yinyin explains. "So parents not only bring them to school and help them set up their dorm room, they bunk down overnight, or for several nights."
MailOnline quotes students and university alumni who have been discussing the issue on Weibo (a social media site a lot like Twitter). "I had too much luggage," one youngster wrote. "My dad worried a lot. Honestly, I didn't even know how to catch the train in my first year."
Another said, "It's great to have my parents' company. But I feel bad for having them stay in a tent." Not everyone is on-board with the tents of love. "They are 18-year-old babies," one student weighed in. "I moved in on my own." While most students seem to appreciate having their parents nearby for a while, the phenomenon seems to be more for the parents' benefit.

Quartz spoke to the 50-year-old mom of a student at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in Guangzhou.

“I feel my heart is empty with my son gone,” Chen Tingtao's mom Hu revealed after she said goodbye.

Hu, Chen's dad, uncle, aunt, and their one-year-old baby all squeezed into a five-seat car to take him to Guangdong University. Hu went to Chen’s dormitory three times to clean the room, help him settle in and get to know her son’s roommates.

Would you spend your child's first few nights at university with them? Or is it better not to draw out the goodbye? Have your say and share your story on our Facebook page.

Sources: Quartz, MailOnline, Whatsonweibo.com

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