500 Words At A Time: The Things I Carried

Do your back and shoulder a favor and read this post.

College does strange things to people. Number one, is getting people who would otherwise leave the house with nothing more than a wallet or purse, keys, and maybe water bottle to sling a backpack over one shoulder loaded down with enough office supplies to storm the nearest Staples. I am here to tell you what I did over five years and what you should do starting with your first. Your back and shoulders will thank you.

ATTENTIONBefore we get into the things I carried, heed this one piece of advice, if you choose to go with a backpack, do not sling the backpack over one shoulder nor wear the backpack with loose straps so that the backpack hangs down to your ass or worse knees.

Year One

Excited, yes excited, at the prospect of being in classes where my brain would be challenged by all of the new things I was going to learn I loaded up for bear. In the backpack:

  • 3 textbooks
  • 2 novels related to class
  • 3 spiral notebooks
  • 1 small notebook for personal notes
  • 1 pack of post-it notes
  • 1 pack of post-it flags
  • 1 flash drive 32 GB attached to a long blacklanyard
  • 1 Zune, yes a Zune and it still works
  • 2 pairs of headphones
  • 2 AA batteries (no idea why)
  • 1 small bag filled to bursting point with pens and a mechanical pencil with refills (including an eraser refill)
  • 1 calculator (which did not get used until midway through the end of the second semester)
  • 1 packet of Spongebob tissues
  • 1 pack of Spongebob playing cards
  • 1 laptop with powercord
  • 1 waterbottle, which was the first thing to go

I lugged most of that around for the whole year. As the year progressed things were left behind, like all of the textbooks at one time.

Year Two

Still with the backpack, but I learned a few things, thus the backpack carried:

  • A textbook ONLY if I needed it for that class
  • 1 spiral notebook for the class of the day
  • 1 small notebook for personal notes
  • 1 pack of post-it notes
  • 1 pack of post-it flags
  • 1 flash drive 32 GB attached to a long blacklanyard
  • 2 AA batteries (no idea why)
  • 1 small bag filled to bursting point with pens and a mechanical pencil with refills (including an eraser refill)
  • 1 calculator (which did not get used until midway through the end of the second semester)
  • 1 packet of Spongebob tissues
  • 1 pack of Spongebob playing cards

Less stuff, but still a haul especially with the textbook.

Year Three

Year three I went from backpack to shoulder bag. Started out with backpack, but quickly moved to shoulder bag.

  • A textbook ONLY if I needed it for that class
  • 3 quarter sized notebooks which were reused for the following semester, much lighter than regular papersized notebooks
  • 1 small notebook for personal notes
  • 1 pack of post-it flags
  • 1 flash drive 32 GB attached to a long blacklanyard
  • 1 small bag filled to bursting point with pens and a mechanical pencil with refills (including an eraser refill) which was replaced with one pen per pen holder in bag, plus whichever extras fell to the bottom

The shoulder bag or messenger bag came about due to a shoulder injury which required a trip to the doctor’s office. This shoulder muscle injury bothers me to today.

Year Four

Messenger bag only, but it was a pair of Pathfinder RPG styled bags. These had less carrying capacity that previous messenger bag, but the cool factor was worth it to me. Inside

  • Unless a professor specified I needed a book for class, they stayed at home
  • 1 quarter sized spiral notebook for whichever class I was attending
  • 1 small notebook for personal notes
  • 1 flash drive 32 GB attached to a long blacklanyard
  • 1 pen per pen slot, which I believe topped out at 5
  • 1 ipad mini, if I was not wearing fatigues, which I always was

Year four was the eye-opening year. I traveled as light as I possibly could and had zero problems in class. The rare occasion a book was necessary, I either looked at a book nearby (rarely) or wrote down the page numbers and did the looking at home. My back and shoulder thanked me.

Year Five

I carry around, when I carry it around, a military style underarm bag (link is to Amazon listing) that severely limits the amount I can carry around.

  • I have taken a book to class twice
  • 2 quarter sized spiral notebook for whichever class I was attending
  • 1 small notebook for personal notes
  • 1 flash drive 32 GB attached to a long blacklanyard
  • 1 pen per pen slot 4 maximum

By year here is approximately how much weight I carried around:

Year 1: close to 20 lbs.

Year 2: 10 to 12 lbs.

Year 3: 5 to 6 lbs. apx.

Year 4: 4 lbs. apx.

Year 5: under 3 lbs.

Do yourself, your back and shoulders a favor and learn from me, travel light (see year 4 and 5) and whatever carrying bag you use wear it properly.

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