Over the past year, I have been searching for two staple bags, one small and one larger. I have found the larger bag, but I’m still on the lookout for a smaller bag that suits my needs. I have found, in this process, that I am apparently extremely picky when it comes to bags. My criteria for both of them are essentially the same, although obviously the volume differs.
Basically, my needs are as follows: black or navy, without gold or bronze hardware, free of bling, and with at least a few internal pockets. Ideally big enough to hold my iPad, although I will concede this point for the smaller bag. Finally, it must have a cross-body strap, as I am not all about carrying a bag in the crook of my arm.
Oh, and I’m on a student budget, so that limits my options rather severely.
I’ve been using the Marc B Brook bag as my main school bag for about 2 months now, and I love it. Considering my last two bags were from Primark and Forever 21, at $120 this was a bit of a splurge for me, though it’s nothing in the grand scope of handbag pricing.
Anyway, I love this bag. It’s sturdy, the perfect size, and partitioned off perfectly. It has three main pockets: two open, one zipped off in the middle. There are three smaller pockets on the inside that are perfect for the small items that I don’t want to lose in the bottom. It has a cross-body strap and handles, so it can be worn or carried. It’s perfect for my needs.
So, what am I toting around inside of it at any given time?
Front open pocket
Notebook: I take my notes by hand, because I’m old-fashioned. (I retain the information so much better than if I type it!) This semester I’m taking two anthropology classes and three English classes, so I found it easiest to have a notebook for each discipline.
Mars wrapper, Metro receipt for Bits and Bites and frozen pizza: Clearly I have not done a deep-cleaning of my bag in awhile. And really like junk food.
Planner and pens: I don’t think I’ve talked about it on here before, but my friends know that I am in love with the large Moleskine Weekly Planner. I’ve been using one since 2009 and it suits my planning style perfectly. I’m not an obsessive planner at all; I mainly use it to track all the readings I have, although it’s useful for writing down assignments, tests, and appointments. I write in it with Staedtler Triplus Fineliners, which are my favourite felt tip pens. This set of 20 was a bit expensive, but I love having the colour variety.
Back open pocket
Coursepack and textbook: I almost always have school readings on hand so I can make the most out of my downtime. I have so many readings to do now that I’m in fourth year that I pretty much don’t let a single second tick by without being productive. If I arrive at class early, the book comes out. And with about a 25 minute commute to and from campus, I get a lot of reading done on the bus!
Old quiz, study notes for a midterm: More trash! I took the midterm on the day I took these pictures, so that’s my excuse for that one – but I don’t know why the quiz was still floating around in there.
Middle zipped pocket
iPad: I don’t always bring my iPad with me, but I did this day because I was reading an ebook for one of my anthropology classes. A lot of my readings are uploaded online, so I download them into the Adobe Acrobat Reader app so I can read and annotate them on my iPad when I’m on the go. I find this a lot easier than doing it on the computer, and obviously my iPad is more portable than my laptop anyway.
Wallet: I often just go to campus with my student card, bus pass, and debit card, but some days I’ll pop my wallet into my bag if I think I might want cash or any of my other cards. I’ve been trying to get into the habit of carrying my full wallet with me since I never know if I’ll want my credit card, ID, etc. My wallet is from Primark and aside from the fact that it’s disgustingly dirty I like it – and it’s held up well for over a year, which is pretty shocking considering it was like £4.
Emergency cheques from the bank: I ordered in three cheques so I could pay my rent and picked them up on the day I took these pictures.
Front compartment inner pockets
Sephora compact: For touching up my lipstick.
Earbuds: I want to cry imagining ~50 minutes of commuting each day without music. I obviously also bring my phone with me, but I usually keep it in my coat pocket, not in my bag.
Keys: Self-explanatory. I attached them to a silver C keychain that I have had forever.
Cardholder: My cardholder is a convenient little sleeve for my bus pass (essential!) and student ID card, which I use to get into various student-only areas on campus. (Check out eighteen-year-old me with dark hair and bags!) I bought the cardholder at Dix-Mille Villages and I love it!
Back compartment inner pocket
Lipstick: Obviously, my bag accumulates lipstick. Revlon Shameless and Rimmel East End Snob were from previous days; MAC Rebel was what I wore on this particular day.
Pens: I buy BIC Ultra Round Stic Grip ballpoint pens in bulk. So many people swear by fancy pens, but these cheap ballpoint pens are my life. I will not take notes with anything else. They’re like $2.50 a pack, they write smoothly, and they make my writing look really nice. I stock up on them at the beginning of every semester because I wear them out or lose them so quickly.
Phone charger: One day a week I’m on campus for 7 hours, and on Thursdays my school day tragically lasts 9 hours. A phone charger is essential for these days! I can’t remember what brand this one is; I just buy whatever is the cheapest at Walmart, since the Apple lightning cables are ridiculously expensive for something that seems to break every few months.
Water bottle: I tend to clip this onto the outside of my bag since it doesn’t fit inside very well. Anyway, I drink water obsessively, as anyone who has hung out with me can tell you. I try to drink 2.5-3L of water a day. I cannot be without my water bottle on campus. This is a Camelbak Eddy 750mL. I don’t really think it’s worth the price, but I like it and will continue to use it.
Et voilà – my very uni-focused bag. I could probably do without having to lug all this stuff around with me, but where’s the fun in that?
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