Arriving at college, I didn’t realize that I was going to need more than just my laptop, a few pens and a notebook in my backpack. And from my experience, having the bare minimum on hand when walking around campus is a nuisance that can be easily avoided. UCR is very large, and you’re going to be away from your dorm or car for a majority of the day. So, having a few essentials with you at all times will minimize the hassle of walking such great distances back and forth.
Perhaps the most important item in my backpack is my new flat water bottle. Of course, many students may opt to use a colorful Hydro Flask, but if you are anything like me, carrying something around all day can be quite exhausting. To remedy this, I decided to purchase a small, flat water bottle for a fraction of what a typical Tekeya or Hydro Flask would cost. Not only is this bottle cheaper than most, it also fits comfortably in my backpack without taking too much space. And though it may be on the smaller side of water bottles, it is still worth the price and functionality. Not to mention, the bottle itself is very minimalistic and aesthetically pleasing.
Coming in second on the level of importance is my phone charger, laptop charger and headphones. Once everyone returns to campus, myself and other students will be eager to study at some popular spots. So, if you are planning on putting in some work at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf or the Tomas Rivera Library, it’s crucial that you keep all of your chargers and headphones on you at all times. To make things less messy in my backpack, I like to find adorable pouches to store all of my cables and adapters. As a result, these pouches serve as a functional way to keep your backpack clean while also adding a bit of style to your study setup.
As we return to campus, it may be daunting at first to be around so many people after spending quite some time in quarantine. In addition to wearing a cloth mask, I also make sure to pack five disposable masks in a plastic bag along with a miniature hand sanitizer in case I touch something dirty or want to have a quick snack on the go. These are extremely important tools for those who are hesitant to return to campus and want to feel more comfortable. After all, there’s nothing wrong with having the reassurance that you are being clean and safe.
Along with masks and hand sanitizer, I strongly recommend packing cough drops, Advil, chapstick, mini-deodorant and a tide stick ー your local Target’s toiletry travel section will be your best friend. Not only are these items lifesavers, but they are also cheaper than running to the bookstore or the Market at Glen Mor. For these items, I simply store everything in a small makeup or pencil pouch. It’s impossible to predict when a headache will strike or when you will spill something on yourself, but having these on hand will definitely minimize the stress when these circumstances arise. Although it seems as if you’ll have too much to carry in your backpack, storing everything in separate pouches really helps with organization and cleanliness.
UCR reopening can be a bit intimidating, especially if you are new to campus or stuck in the routine of remote learning. However, these small essentials will make a huge difference in your overall experience. You will never have to worry about walking back and forth to retrieve forgotten items, nor will you have to worry about being unprepared for something. Making a difference in the way you organize something as simple as your backpack and what you carry can have a huge impact on confidence and success. So, when shopping for items, be sure to purchase these must-haves.