College students learn to love and improve happiness in class

(Xinhua) 08:19, April 02, 2024

TIANJIN, April 1 (Xinhua) -- At the start of this spring semester, nearly 1,000 students applied for a love course lectured by Wang Xiaoling from Tianjin University, despite a class size limit of only 300 people.

Wang, a teacher from the mental health education center of Tianjin University in north China, opened the course on love psychology in 2019, which soon became an instant sensation on campus.

"We have to 'battle' for the opportunity to enroll in the course each semester. I had yearned to join the class since my sophomore year but only got the chance when I became a senior," a student, Liu Yuan (pseudonym), said.

In the beginning, Wang was frequently met with inquiries such as, "Will this course assist me in finding a partner? Will I acquire techniques for maintaining a relationship?"

Wang would explain that the course was not primarily focused on helping students find partners or teaching them love skills but rather on helping them establish a healthy perspective on relationships and enhance their ability to handle conflicts in relationships.

The seasoned psychological practitioner, with over a decade of experience in mental health education, has observed in her counseling practice that college students frequently struggle with establishing relationships and grappling with emotional distress.

"Many students of the 'post-2000s' generation often encounter challenges navigating interpersonal, romantic, parent-child, and teacher-student relationships. They often lack the ability to effectively manage complex emotional issues and sustain healthy relationships," Wang said.

Therefore, she started to think about offering a love course to help young students enhance their capability to love and be loved. "They need to learn to love themselves first so that they can love others, such as their families," Wang added.

The course's teaching team integrates multiple subjects, including psychology, arts, philosophy, and the science of law into the course design and guides students through understanding love, attachment relationships, conflict management, and relationship maintenance.

Wang believes the ability to love is a practical skill and can not be acquired solely through theoretical discussion or paper-based exercises. So she also paid special attention to students' participation and practice in the course.

To raise students' awareness of how family relationships could impact their views on love and marriage, Wang once gave the students a special assignment.

She told students to interview their parents to learn about the most impressive experiences in their marriage, what their parents appreciate about each other the most, and what they can't accept about each other.

"Some students even brought their parents to attend the class together," Wang said. Such activities have deepened the mutual understanding between the students and their parents, enabling young people to have a deeper reflection and understanding of marriage and family relationships.

Yu Xunlong, a junior student from College of Intelligence and Computing, Tianjin University, said the course brought him confidence for love again.

"I was once immersed in the depressed mood after breaking up. In this course, I learned the theoretical knowledge of love psychology about breaking up, and made micro films and analysed the characters' mental process. These helped me realize that break-up is not the end of everything, but rather a new start," Yu said.

Wang also noted that the course is not limited to teaching students how to fall in love, since the more important mission is the guidance of value. "If my students can enhance their happiness after taking this course, they will have full marks," she said.

Tianjin University is among many Chinese universities that offer love-related courses.

As early as 2013, East China Normal University opened an elective course named "Marriage and Love," receiving an influx of applicants far beyond the class size. In 2014, Nanjing University offered five love-related lectures. Wuhan University has also offered a course on love psychology based on basic theories combined with the practice of having a relationship.

Zhang Baoyi, with the Tianjin Academy of Social Sciences, said love courses can help college students establish positive values of love, and guide them to solve relationship troubles and better balance study and love in universities.

Zhao Xin, director of Tianjin University's Office of Student Affairs, said the university had opened 14 elective courses like the love course through its mental health education center so far.

"We regard it as an important part of our education to cultivate students with positive psychological qualities. By establishing a system of varied psychological health practices both in-class and extracurricular, we aim to guide students to develop correct views on love, relationships, and family," Zhao said.

At the end of last semester, Wang inspiringly received numerous positive feedback from students who had attended the class.

"I feel fortunate to take this course because I got to know myself better and make positive changes," a student left a comment in an online chat room of the course, where students could exchange their ideas after the class.

Another student said, "The course on love psychology is more of a process of growth than merely taking a class. From evading love to confronting love and yearning for love, I could feel my progress in every class."

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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