The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Xenia Arinez de la Vega

Xenia Arinez de la Vega's picture


Hola! My name is Xenia Arinez de la Vega and I’m a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst majoring in journalism and pursuing a certificate in translation and interpreting studies. I’m originally from La Paz, Bolivia, but after a gap year and a lot of thinking, I decided to move to the US to pursue my college degree. I started out in Virginia but transferred to UMass Amherst in part to be closer to my dad, who lived in Rhode Island at the time. During my first two years here I lived in Sylvan, Central, and Northeast, but I moved off campus for my senior year. If I had to describe my experience at UMass Amherst, I would say that it’s been an adventure. There’s always something new and sometimes unexpected around the corner; you never know what awaits behind a door if you dare to open it (my advice: open as many doors as you can).

Why did you choose your major?

I chose journalism for mainly two reasons. I love writing more than anything in the world. I believe that writing is one of the most wonderful ways of communicating. Journalism is also in my blood. My grandfather (Julio de la Vega for those in the know about Bolivian writers) was a prominent journalist, novelist, and poet in Bolivia. One of my earliest memories is being in his office surrounded by a million books, magazines, and newspapers. If I’m being honest, my passion for writing and journalism is in large part thanks to him. Be it a letter, a newspaper article, or a text, writing is how we connect with each other and the world. Journalism in any form, is a way to keep the world not only connected, but also informed, which in and of itself is a pillar of freedom and democracy.

I chose the certificate translation and interpreting studies because I’m passionate about language. A fun fact about me is that I speak five languages (three fluently), and my goal is to be fluent in all five of them, and learn a sixth by the time I’m thirty. I strongly believe that language should build bridges, not walls. By studying translation and interpretation I can contribute my grain of sand to build those bridges.

I was able to combine both of my passions thanks to the Massachusetts Daily Collegian. The Collegian translation department strives to make our stories accessible to everyone, regardless of preferred language. It’s our mission to keep everyone on campus, and the Amherst community, informed about the daily happenings at UMass Amherst and in the area.

What's something that most people don't know or wrongly assume about your major?

People tend to think that journalism is dying. We’re living in a time where trust in news is at an all-time low and—thanks to social media—where it’s increasingly easy to spread fake news all over the globe. In addition to this, the internet and technology have largely replaced print mediums, and even broadcast TV and radio. However, none of this means that journalism is dying — it’s quite the contrary. Because of the immediacy of the internet, the new multimedia nature of news, and the spread of inaccurate news, news reporters are more active than ever trying to keep up with the 24-hour news cycle, all while keeping stories accurate and producing for multiple media.

What is your favorite place on campus?

My favorite place on campus is definitely Durfee Conservatory. I discovered it last year while taking a class that dealt with mindfulness practices (meditation and things like that), and someone mentioned it. I went there to check it out, and let me tell you, it was like walking into Narnia. I walked in and February turned into September, all the snow magically disappearing, and giving way into an incredible garden. My favorite part about Durfee though, is how quiet it is. It’s perfect for when I’m having an anxious day, or just want to spend some quiet time.

My Content

Financial Aid 101

Image of the University of Massachusetts with this text: Financial aid may seem like a scary monster, but it’s way simpler than you think.

From grants to loans to scholarships, the world of college financial aid can be complicated and intimidating. Luckily for you, I sat down with Matt Mourovic, the director of financial services and customer relations, to bring you all the answers you need.

How to find the right college for you

Image of Old Chapel at the University of Massachusetts with text reading: Choosing the right college for you

Choosing the right college for you is one of the most important decisions of your life. Whatever college you choose, it’s where you’ll spend most of the next four years of your life, where you’ll get your professional formation, and where you’ll meet what could potentially be people you’ll know and remember for the rest of your life. This is why it’s important you make the right decision for you.

Meet La Unidad Latina: The first Latinx fraternity at UMass Amherst

Four brothers in La Unidad Latina at the University of Massachusetts stand in a classroom wearing yellow fraternity hoodies and making a gesture for the Greek letter Lambda

Greek life can be a quintessential part of the American college experience. At least for me, all I knew about American colleges was the existence of sororities and fraternities. Although I never partook in anything Greek life related, there was always a little part of me that wondered what it would've been like to rush and be part of a sorority.

Meet the Majors: Microbiology and Portuguese

Joshua Badal Rodrigues, a student at the University of Massachusetts, smiles and wears a black shirt and black tie.

Choosing a major is not easy. There’s a lot of factors playing into your choice, from personal preference to career options, choosing a major can be a very personal decision. Here at the University of Massachusetts, we believe it’s important to open your mind and explore multiple options that will allow you to tailor your education to fit you perfectly. Take a look at what Joshua Badal-Rodrigues, a freshman microbiology and Portuguese double major, who hopes to use both his language and future medical skills to help increase medical accessibility to Portuguese-speaking communities, had to say.

Conoce El Barrio: La nueva comunidad residencial definida latinx de UMass

Image of Southwest Residential Area with text reading El Barrio: The brand new Latinx defined residential community at UMass

Mudarme a los Estados Unidos desde Bolivia fue una aventura para mí. Lo único—además de mi familia y amigos—que me ponía triste dejar atrás era mi comunidad latinx. En Bolivia, claro, no pensaba en comunidad con latinx. En realidad, no fue hasta que vine aquí que me di cuenta de que muchas cosas intrínsecas para mi (el idioma en gran parte), también eran intrínsecas en la cultura latinx. Y así, empecé a extraña pequeñas cosas como saludar a la gente con un beso en la mejilla o escuchar una canción de reggaetón donde sea que vaya (gracias a Blue Wall por poner reggaetón una que otra vez).

El Barrio: The brand new Latinx defined residential community at UMass Amherst

Image of Southwest Residential Area with text reading El Barrio: The brand new Latinx defined residential community at UMass

Moving to the U.S. from Bolivia was an adventure for me. The one thing—besides my friends and family—I was sad to be leaving behind, was my Latinx community. Over in Bolivia, of course, I didn’t think of it as a Latinx community. In fact, it wasn’t until I came here that I realized that a lot of things intrinsic to me (not the least of them was language), were also an intrinsic part of Latinx culture. And so, I started to miss little things like greeting people with a kiss on the cheek or hearing a reggaeton song wherever I went (shout out to Blue Wall for playing reggaeton every once in a while).

Meet UMass' new vice chancellor

Brandi Hephner LaBanc sitting in her office at the University of Massachusetts

Over the last few weeks, the University of Massachusetts Amherst community has seen its daily life upended due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Almost every student has received emails detailing next steps and resources, but have we stopped to think about who the faces behind those emails are? So, without further ado, it’s time to get to know our new vice chancellor of student affairs & campus life here at UMass Amherst, Brandi Hephner LaBanc.

Cambiando de Carrera en la Universidad de Massachusetts

Images of business students and biology students at the University of Massachusetts, with the text "Changing Majors at UMass"

Entrando a mi primer año era un estudiante de biología, y estaba más motivado que nunca a empezar mi carrera académica en el camino al campo médico. Sin embargo, como muchos otros estudiantes, mis pasiones e intereses cambiaron, y decidí cambiar mi carrera a operaciones y administración de información en la Escuela de Administración Isenberg.

Conoce la Carrera: Inglés

Image of the University of Massachusetts campus with text reading meet the major: english

Apliqué a la Universidad de Massachusetts Amherst como estudiante de inglés el 2017. A lo largo de toda mi educación, siempre estado fascinada por la literatura. Era un típico ratón de biblioteca. Siempre tenía mi nariz metida en un libro y constantemente estaba en la búsqueda de la siguiente pieza de literatura en las podría poner mis manos. 

My year in review

University of Massachusetts student Xenia posing and smiling in front of the Eiffel Tower

2019 was probably one of the hardest years of my life.  

The year started with my mom passing away after a five-year battle with cancer. As is the usual with illnesses, we’d known the hardest was on its way, but that didn’t make it any less devastating.

Aplicar a la Universidad como estudiante internacional

Universidad de Massachusetts estudiantes con Sam, la mascota de universidad.

Aplicar a la Universidad en Estados Unidos es un proceso de varios pasos que a veces puede ser complicado. Y, si estás aplicando como estudiante internacional, el proceso requiere un par de pasos extra que pueden dar miedo de navegar. ¡Pero, no te preocupes! Sigue estos tips y te verás cómo el proceso es mucho más fácil de lo que crees.

Letter to my past self

University of Massachusetts blogger Xenia Arinez in her freshman year (at left), and her senior year (at right)

Dear freshman Xenia,

Our college journey is coming to an end pretty soon, can you believe it? At the risk of sounding like an old lady, I have to wonder where time went. These past four years have flown by, and it’s almost time we leave our safety net and begin the next part of our lives. But, am I truly me if I don’t go all sappy and retrospective about our time in college? (The answer is no, you know this, I know this, every person who’s ever known us knows this).  

It's Always About the Students for Kathy Roberts Forde

Kathy Roberts Forde sitting at her desk at the University of Massachusetts holding a cup of coffee

Kathy Roberts Forde is highly motivated by her students; whose success is just as important to her as her own.

“I think I’m motivated by student learning and student success, like seeing students, and working with students in whatever it is they care about and want to do, and when they succeed it just makes me feel really, really good. I feel at least as good about their success as I feel about my own success,” she says. 

We Translate: A Look Into the Daily Collegian Translations Department

"We translate" in various languages graphic for the MA Daily Collegian at the University of Massachusetts

The Translations Department at the Massachusetts Daily Collegian was started two years ago, and it is the first one at a college daily. The department has since expanded into nine languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. The beauty of the translations department is that as long as a there is an editor and at least one translator, any language can be included.

My College Decision Journey: Gap Year and Beyond

University of Massachusetts blogger Xenia stands along the windows of the Integrative Learning Center

After graduating high school, I was flooded with a million questions about what I wanted to do with my life. Every time I looked in the mirror, all I saw was one huge question mark where my face was supposed to be, much like high school seniors everywhere.   

The first decision I made had to do with timing. I wasn’t ready start a new life right away, so after multiple conversations with my parents, friends, and school counselor, I decided to take a gap year between high school and college.

Everything in Two Bags

A University of Massachusetts student on move-in day, holding a UMass athletics logo

Tips from Xenia, an international student at UMass.

Packing for college is a funny thing. Some people move out of their homes for good, some leave it only during the academic year. Either way, most people want to make sure they take what they can in order to make their new dorms and apartments feel like home. There are a million articles out there telling you how to decorate and transform the space, but what about choosing what to take with you? It’s not that easy, and for me, it was a process limited by more than simple choice.