Unpacking my school bag: An open thread

My school bag always contains the following items:

  • Two pens
  • A Moleskine notebook
  • A folder which itself contains the following:
    • Instructions for signing onto the wi-fi at the University of Chicago library
    • A periodic table
    • Syllabi for current classes (if applicable)
  • An umbrella
  • A canvas shopping bag
  • A durable plastic shopping bag (in case I need to carry something wet, I guess)
  • A phone charger (combination USB and wall plug)
  • Headphones
  • Ear plugs
  • A miniature tape measure
  • A glasses repair kit
  • Business cards
  • A magnetic Shimer nametag
  • A conference name-tag lanyard (clip-style, not necklace-style)
  • A toothbrush (but curiously no toothpaste)
  • Dental floss (currently two miniature containers)
  • Emergency back-up chapstick

I think it’s safe to say that I always leave the house prepared for a wide range of contingencies. How about you, readers? What do you carry around in your school bag?

25 Responses to “Unpacking my school bag: An open thread”

  1. translationscrapbook Says:

    Ummm…several pens and pencils, some erasers, pencil sharpeners, highlighters, colourful pens, tissues, hand sanitiser, two tubes of lipstick depending on the occasion, lip balm, compact, a book or magazine to read, and anything I need for class.

    Hmm. That list is smaller than I thought it would be.

  2. pjebleak Says:

    I carry: a pen, a notepad, usually three books, hayfever tablets and emergency smoking material (I smoke roll-ups, so a pack of skins, a lighter and a tiny bit of tobacco just in case). My wallet is full of cards I can’t imagine ever needing (book shop loyalty cards, bar loyalty cards…a lot of loyalty cards).

  3. Robert Saler Says:

    When you all say “bag,” do you mean messenger, shoulder bag, briefcase, backpack….? Because that tends to be my dilemma.

  4. Adam Kotsko Says:

    It’s a shoulder bag.

  5. david cl driedger Says:

    I am not nearly so interdisciplinary in my packing but I must say that I get a little turned on by a really well designed bag. Mountain Equipment Coop’s backback/laptop carrier did it for me.

  6. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    Wow. You really do have a lot of stuff!

    I have a stationary bag with three pens (two blue, one red), a pot of ink cartridges, a blackwing pencil and pencil sharpener. My iPad, three medium sized notebooks (two for class notes, one for general notes), a moleskin sized Leuchtturm 1917 notebook (I love these notebooks), a bluetooth keyboard, an iPad stand, usually a book or two, ibuprofen, headphones, an iPod, my passport in a secret pocket, sticky tabs for books, business cards, and gum. Sometimes folders with reading journals/vocabulary quizzes. I am not prepared for much compared to your apocalyptic bug out bag you have going.

  7. seanchristophercapener Says:

    Jesus. I am prepared for nothing:

    -Two pens
    -moleskine notebook
    -charger (if I’m going to be on campus more than an hour or two)
    -books for the day

    I just really hate carrying things. Insofar as I have extra stuff around it’s usually in my car, not my bag.

  8. Garet Robinson Says:

    I’m almost entirely digital these days. So in my bag,

    attachments to VGA hook-ups for both
    three pens (2 black, 1 red)
    one mechanical pencil
    Adonit Stylus
    business cards
    literary magazine
    book weight
    two 5-hour energy shots

    That’s about it. I would be useless in the wild…or locked in a library overnight.

  9. sour & sour Says:

    So I’m the only one with a pack of kotex in my bag?

  10. Hill Says:

    Love that you’ve got a periodic table in there.

  11. Kampen Says:

    Pens in black, blue, red, and green. Mechanical pencils. Extra leads. Eraser. Sticky notes. Sunglasses. Tide-to-go (a lifesaver!). Hilroy 300 pg notebook. Day planner (also a lifesaver). A pair of knit mittens (it’s still cold here). 2 plastic bags. 1 cloth bag. Contact lenses. A pharmacy (too many to list). Chapstick. Eyedrops. Bobby pins. Hair elastics. Gum. Mints. Cough drops. Hand lotion. Earplugs. Band aids. Wallet. Chequebook. A book I’m currently reading. Thank you cards. Kleenex. Hand sanitizer. Combination lock. Waterbottle. Granola bars.

    Apparently, zero electronics. Except my phone, but that’s usually in my pocket.

  12. Kampen Says:

    @ sour & sour: I would have listed that too previously, but I switched to a diva cup, which is not actually in my bag. :)

  13. Anthony Paul Smith Says:

    OK, I’ll just ask… why the periodic table?! You breaking bad, Kotsko?

  14. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I got the periodic table when I was taking the Natural Sciences 1 course at Shimer, and I kept it in my school folder as a permanent fixture mainly because it seems so incongruous. The day will come when I’ll pull out the periodic table from my bag to settle a bar argument and it’ll be fucking hilarious.

  15. Craig McFarlane Says:

    Pens (3), chalk (including chalk dust), folder with lecture notes, folder with assignments, digital recorder left in classroom by a student.

  16. Alex Wyman Says:

    Am I the only one here to always carry a towel? (Along with a moleskine, a rollerball pen, my phone, an assortment of books, and a hairbrush.)

  17. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I do always carry a handkerchief, but that’s in my pocket, not my bag. A towel seems like it’d be too bulky for my particular bag.

  18. Kampen Says:

    @APS – Thank you cards because I’ve been travelling quite a bit and staying with people in their homes.

  19. JoB Says:

    Head ache pills, and lots of sheets of paper which seemed to be relevant at a certain time (or which are relevant but didn’t yet make it to the pile of papers which we search when some government agency wants something from us).

    And a laptop, charger and US power converter. Plus a bottle of water, San Pellegrino.

  20. Anthony Paul Smith Says:


    I have just realized I am a horrible house gust. Way to be better at everything.

  21. mattintoledo Says:

    These lists are humbling. I remember having to write in pen and doing calculations by hand during a math test because I’d forgotten a pencil and calculator. I was only on campus to take that math test.

  22. opacus Says:

    Curious, fun, thread. For me:
    -uniball pen
    -leather bound notebook
    -white eraser
    -a book I am currently reading or intend to read
    -earbud headphones
    -assortment of paperclips

    As for bags, what shoulder bags are you all using? I have an older Ben Sherman bag I’d like to replace with something leather, and more lasting.

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