When retiree Ren Chunqing's daughter went to Japan to study two years ago, they communicated via video and telephone almost every day.
"I missed her very much in the first month, worrying that she couldn't adapt to the new environment, couldn't entirely understand Japanese and that the teaching method was different in foreign universities," said 51-year-old Ren, who is from Shanxi province.
Her daughter Guo Jiao left in October 2012 to study for a three-and-a-half year biology PhD at the University of Tokyo.
Ren said she only felt relieved about a month after her daughter left, when Guo reported her studies and life in Japan were going smoothly.
"My daughter is very independent and can look after herself very well - my worry was really unnecessary," Ren said.
Ren said she also felt "very alone and frustrated in the beginning".
She visited her daughter last year and stayed for about a month, but did not like Japan.
"There was the language barrier and I couldn't talk to anyone except my daughter. So most of time I stayed in her apartment, which was very boring. I had no sense of security," said Ren, whose husband, 54, is an ENT doctor.
Since her return from Japan, Ren has kept busy - finding new interests and renewed purpose in her life.
She often sings and dances with a group and studies photography at a local community college for seniors. She also travels occasionally and spends more time with her husband.
"I am busier than before. My life has become colorful," Ren said with a smile.
Ren is just one of the increasing number of "empty nest" Chinese families, in which the parents can face difficulties after their only child leaves to study overseas.
The number of Chinese students overseas reached 413,900 in 2013, an increase of 3.58 per cent from the previous year, figures from the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange under the Ministry of Education showed.
The Education International Cooperation Group forecast the number of overseas students would reach 500,000 this year, which would be the seventh consecutive year of growth.
Sun Hongmo, the director of the China Center for International Educational Exchange, said the number of students who head overseas for studies at a younger age has also increased.
Last year, about 45 per cent of Chinese students overseas were enrolled in master's and PhD programs in the United States, and about 40 per cent were US undergraduates under the age of 18, Sun said.
Hao Meng, a consultant from the Education International Cooperation Group, said the number of students studying at elementary schools and high schools is increasing.
Because of this trend, many expect an increase in empty nest families in China as more young students head abroad.