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Malavika Arun

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Class Year: 2019
Hometown: Palakkad, Kerala, India
Majors: Psychology, Theatre (double)
Extracurriculars: Resident Advisor, Bollywood Club Cofounder
Off-campus study: New York City

What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Inspiring, insightful, friendly

What has been your favorite class so far (title and professor)? How did it expand your knowledge?

This question is very hard because I love learning and being in class and I’ve had so many amazing and fun classes that I would love to share. Film Adapting Fiction by Assistant Professor Michael Mirabile is a class I took in my first semester here at L&C. It was the very first class I signed up for because I didn’t know what to choose and the description sounded like a dream come true to someone who spends a lot of her time reading books and judging their visual adaptations. The books and the movies we focused on in this English class were very different (and much older) from what I usually read and watch. We looked at a lot of thrillers and mysteries and even horror movies. The class had an even mix of students from all four years, and the discussions I’ve had in that class were very insightful and full of scholarly opinions, especially the way Professor Mirabile led them. I learned to better understand and criticize literature of different kinds and about analyzing movies. As a psychology and theatre double major, I also found ways to bring both disciplines into the discussions and that was also truly an amazing experience. I would recommend this class to anybody who is even slightly interested in the subject area.

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

I first heard of Lewis & Clark from a friend who had just started her first year here. I looked into it just to find out more and the videos of the campus online looked really beautiful and she told me great things about it. Brian White, the director of the International Students and Scholars Office (ISS), visited my high school (UWC Mahindra College) in India and I got the chance to talk to him, have an interview, and attend his presentation on the college. My high school was a place where I felt that my personal freedom was respected and my opinions mattered, and I wanted to go to a college that would also give me those things. I wanted to be in a place with people who were passionate about things and were driven to work towards it. I loved everything I heard about Lewis & Clark and the more I knew, the more I could see myself loving being there.  

How do you feel supported as an international student at Lewis & Clark?

Being an international student is both an exciting and challenging experience. Lewis & Clark College makes a great effort for their international students to feel welcome. Most of this is because of the hard work of the ISS Office. From answering emails in the summer to picking us up from the airport and making sure we have bedding to driving a friend of mine to the bank when she was facing issues and finding ways to help another friend pay her medical bills, the office truly makes us feel comfortable. They have played a large part in helping us create a second home at Lewis & Clark.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Portland?

My favorite thing about living in Portland is the friendliness and acceptance of the community. Everytime I go downtown, I’m reminded of how nice and welcoming people can be, from the smiles and hellos on Trimet to food cart owners remembering my face and asking me about life. I also feel that people in Portland are very open-minded and accepting of whoever you are. Wear whatever you want and people will still treat you like it’s all casual. I should know this because my friends and I dressed up in sarees and went downtown for dinner to celebrate an Indian festival, and I didn’t feel I was being judged for it at all. The random art and things I find while walking around Portland never fail to fascinate me and put a smile on my face.

Do you have a job on campus? If so, how do you fit work into your schedule?

I was a resident advisor for a year, and that was a little different from the usual campus job because I was never really “off duty,” so fitting it into my schedule had a whole different meaning. Being a resident advisor was a great learning opportunity that involved interacting with very diverse and different students and being able to form connections with them by helping them navigate life on campus. As my job was so closely tied to where I lived and things could come up at any moment, my strategy for fitting it into my schedule was to be flexible with my plans. I would schedule things into my calendar whenever possible and as early as possible so that it was mostly clear when I was available and when I wasn’t. I also tried to not have plans that were so concrete that I could not work around them so that if I had to deal with an emergency like a sick resident on a Sunday night, I would be able to give it my full attention without having to worry about other things like homework. This flexibility has allowed me to calmly be present in the situation I am in and handle it as necessary without having my academics pay a price.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

Don’t be afraid to take opportunities and risks. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for help. There are always people who can help you and you don’t need to go through it alone if you don’t want to.

How has Lewis & Clark changed you?

Lewis & Clark College has given me a lot of options to learn more about myself and the things I’m interested in. It has pushed me to try things I never thought I would, like learning to design lights for a show, creating a Bollywood Club, doing psychological research, and breaking a wooden board in my self-defense class. It has also taught me to be more open to ideas and opinions different from mine and how to manage difficult conversations as an RA. I’ve also learned how to navigate labels and identities and better understand what they mean. Overall, I’ve grown into a much more independent, strong, and inquisitive individual.

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