Walking around campus, I often wonder how some people can fit everything they need for classes into a tiny handbag. Especially if you have one of those long days where you experience sunrise and sunset only on campus. On the other extreme are those that carry around at least two or three bags, with god knows what. So, what do we actually need for a day at uni? That’s obviously different for everyone, but I think you can get an idea of it by having a look at what’s in my bag.
Laptop, Phone and charger(s), these are probably used most throughout the day. However, I only carry my laptop with me when I have a long day ahead of me with lots of spare time in between classes. Also, if you are an international student, do remember to bring a travel adapter with you. The sockets in the UK are likely to be different to yours at home (note: mine is not a UK plug).
I always have a writing pad and a pen on me. Call me old-fashioned but I do not like taking notes on my laptop. I know many people who do and I guess everyone has to find what works best for them.
The most obvious things without I actually never leave the house: key, wallet and my bus pass in a fancy cover.
Less obvious, but equally important to me: Food! I am always hungry and even though there is a good choice of places to get food on campus, I like bringing my own. I usually bring snacks like a muesli bar and an apple, but some buildings also have a microwave where you can even heat your food, which is great.
However, the best investment so far was my reusable water bottle. Plastic bottles suck, they never last long and in the end produce a lot of rubbish. Plus my bottle is insulated so I can carry tea and coffee along with me. At Sussex, most buildings also have student common rooms, where we can make tea for free.
I either listen to music or read while I am on the bus. Also, if I am too lazy to do stuff for uni during the time between two classes, I mostly read. Currently in my bag: Why Nations Fail, highly recommended for everyone no matter what you study. Mark Zuckerberg read it too, so give it a try. For those with smaller bags, I also read some books on a kindle, which is so lightweight that you don’t even feel the weight in your bag.
Last but not least: a reusable cotton bag. You might think I am a total hippy, but an extra bag is useful even if you have a lot of space. One time, I went to the library to get three books, but sadly, I underestimated the size and the weight (and I didn’t even have my laptop on me) of them, so I had to carry two in my hand all the way home. Sometimes, I also stop at a supermarket on my way home, to only “get a few things” and then end up with more things than I planned to buy. Plastic bags cost in the UK and besides they are never very sturdy. So better be prepared.
Katja is a third year Politics and Philosophy BA student from Berlin. She also works as an International Student Ambassador.