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Students use technology to connect with loved ones

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UTA’s large international population finds unique ways to stay in touch.

By Kim’Breanna Whitaker
The Shorthorn staff

With the help of today’s technology, students are able to connect with family members across the world within seconds while studying at UTA.

For international students from more than 110 countries, coming to UTA not only meant a change in culture, but abandoning their families in some ways.

Chen Zhang, electrical engineering doctoral student, is usually only able to speak with her parents in China once a week.

Zhang said she tries to buy different apps so she can talk to her parents everyday.

In China, the relationship of family members is pretty close and children talk to their parents about problems, Zhang said. She had to adjust to the fact that she can’t ask her parents questions and tell them about her day rimmediately.

To call internationally, students have to pay an additional cost determined by their phone providers, based on what city they’re calling and whether the phone is a landline.

Different apps, such as Facebook and Whatsapp, allow international calls for free. For these apps to work, an internet connection is required.

When wanting to make long distance calls, students must also consider time differences.

Physics graduate student Hector Carranza’s parents live in Los Angeles. He is usually only able to call them at night, but they go to sleep early. Dallas is two hours ahead of Los Angeles, which means 10 p.m. here is 8 p.m. there.

Carranza has been here for two years and only goes home to see his parents twice a year. He sometimes misses out on family traditions and celebrations.

Missing events, like an Easter celebration at his aunt’s house, means Carranza feels left out.

“I wish I was there, but it’s just sacrifices,” Carranza said. “At some point I will be able to do that, but right now during my graduate years, which is maybe like four more years, I’m just going to have kind of pound through it.”

In contrast, geology junior Nicholas Honkus said he and his family don’t communicate very often because of distance. Most of his family lives in Houston.

“Once people started going off to college and stuff we kind of lost touch,” he said.

Depending on the family member, Honkus said they see each other once every year or every couple of years.

To keep families connected, the UTA Parent and Family Center hosts a weekend every October where family members can spend a weekend with their child on campus. This year, Parent and Family Weekend will be Friday Oct. 19 through Sunday Oct. 21.

@breeew007
news-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu