A college freshman chats and chuckles on his cell phone. Behind him are his proud parents, loaded down with his luggage. “Helicopter parents” are seen every year in newspapers and on television on college enrollment day.
This year, however, more freshmen are choosing to prove their self-reliance as grown-ups from their very first day as college students. They travel far away to their new schools, and are determined to settle in on their own.
21st Century reporter Xu Jingxi and campus correspondents Chen Yang and Yang Jiayi interviewed three college freshmen about their experiences.
Tian Chuan, 19, electronic information engineering student, Harbin Engineering University
This freshman had always done what his parents wanted him to do before he went to college. He took the extracurricular lessons his parents chose. He applied to the secondary school they recommended.
But now he is eager to escape from his parents’ protection. Tian’s mother asked him to go to a local university in their hometown of Fujian province. But Tian has chosen one in Harbin, Heilongjiang.
He is determined to manage everything on his own. “I would look as if I were still a little child if my parents accompanied me to the university and sorted everything out for me,” he explained. “As a grown-up man, I would feel ashamed.”
On enrolling day, Tian dragged two big suitcases of luggage. He sweated in long lines and stressed about what he would need to buy on his first shopping trip.
However, Tian is grateful that he started to be self-reliant from the first day of college.
"I will have to handle college studies and job-hunting by myself in the future,” he said, “and I’m more confident now.”
Yang Peihong, 22, medical student, Yangtze University
The whistle blew to announce the train’s departure. “I’m on the way to school. Sorry that I didn’t tell you,” Yang phoned her mother. Yang’s mother was dumbfounded.
From her hometown in Shanxi to the university in Jinzhou, Hubei, Yang needed to transfer between three different trains. When she trudged through the crowds at the stations, she could hardly hold back her tears and longed to go home.
Yang was actually envious when she saw other freshmen enjoying their parents’ company. She too wanted her parents to be there for the proud moment when she became a college student.
But Yang was worried that the long journey would be tough on her aged parents.
Yang plans to work part-time during her college years. She hopes to be able to pay for her parents to go on a comfortable tour around Wuhan once she finds her feet.
Yang believes that her parents are proud of their brave daughter. “I might be the only one in my class who has traveled to university alone,” she said.
Fang Yingfu, 20, business management student, South China Normal University
This freshman from Huilai, Guangdong, was traveling alone for the first time. She took a midnight bus and arrived in Guangzhou five hours later.
On her arrival, Fang saw the shuttle bus which was going to take her to the university. The students from the upper classes gave Fang a warm welcome and helped her to carry her luggage.
While many college freshmen attended enrollment day with large groups of families, the adventurous Fang preferred to explore her first day at school by herself. As it turned out, it was not as difficult as she had expected.
Students of higher grades acted as guides for the freshmen. They helped Fang to go through the procedures, showed her around campus and shared stories of college life.
Going to school on her own helped the freshman quickly blend in with her new schoolmates.
"I would have clung to my parents if they had accompanied me to school,” Fang explained. “But this way, I had more chances to meet students in upper classes and other freshmen and make many new friends.”
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