Chinese students missing campus experience opt for hotels instead

Learners enrolled with Western universities gather in China’s tourism hotspots

December 8, 2021
Tourists with umbrellas at Erhai Lake in Xizhou, China
Source: Shutterstock

Wealthy Chinese students who have been unable to get face-to-face tuition at Western universities because of the coronavirus pandemic are confined to their bedrooms no more, with luxury hotels setting themselves up as alternative study hubs.

Resorts in Yunnan, one of China’s major tourist destinations, have been promoting themselves to students who have been prevented from going overseas by travel restrictions or health concerns, marketing it as an opportunity to live and study alongside learners in similar situations.

“Most of the students here are studying in universities in the US and UK, from Yale to Manchester,” the host of one guesthouse in the city of Dali told Times Higher Education.

Located in China’s south-west, Dali is famous for its varied landscape and good weather. Although Yunnan was the centre of a regional Covid outbreak this summer, the daily peak of 30 cases means that many perceive the risk to be much lower than that in Western study destinations.

The hotels lay on offline activities for students to form friendships and explore local culture, seeking to combat loneliness and replicate elements of the campus experience that many students are missing out on at the moment.

“Since it does not matter where I am for the online course, why not?” said one Chinese student who was enrolled at an Australian university. She moved to Dali in September and has shared pictures of her travels on social media, describing it as an “experience of digital nomads”.

FluorideYi, another Chinese student in Dali, has shared his experiences of visiting music events and neighbouring towns with students from different parts of China in a video blog. “On the second day in Dali, I woke up surrounded by the peace that I have never experienced in a city before,” he said.

Other traditional tourism hotspots have also been on the students’ radar. A postgraduate student enrolled at Grenoble Alpes University said he returned to China at the end of last year and has since travelled to Xinjiang, Gansu and Yunnan while completing his degree.

However, some challenges of studying online remained. “They are tired every day because they have to deal with the time difference and homework. Some of them always have classes late at night,” said the Dali guesthouse host.

“Everything is fine here,” a student who stayed in a hostel in Dali wrote in an online review. “But I still miss my campus and the face-to-face communication with my classmates.”


Print headline: Hotels offer taste of campus life

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