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What’s in Alan’s bag

Items in my bag:

  • Pens
  • Laptop
  • iPad
  • Headphone
  • Band-Aid
  • Wipes
  • Tissue
  • Powerade

I usually have two bags for different uses. The one shown here is the smaller one that is lighter and more fit for daily use. The main things I put in are my laptop and iPad for classes. Pens are used sometimes for paper notes in class. I like to keep wipes and tissue with me to clean surface or anything else I need to. Powerade is essential for my daily hydration. Band-Aids helped me a lot in the past and it is always useful to keep some in my bag so that I can cover up wounds whenever needed or help others.

An Odd Reflection of My Life So Far

LAPTOP BAG: A few days before I bought this bag I had just gotten my last check from my first summer job. I really thought I was all the and a box of chocolates because my bank account finally had 4 digits. I strutted down to Best Buy to make the most luxurious purchase of my life so far: $150 Airpods. A day or two later I started to realize I still had to pay hundreds of dollars for traveling to and from Emory. When the time came to buy school supplies, I picked out the cheapest laptop bag I could find. For 20 bucks I nabbed a plain, dull grey backpack that makes up for utility where it lacks in looks.

NOTEBOOKS: I seriously need to get checked for brain atrophy. I can’t remember anything. I can’t remember names, birthdays, personal stories that my friends/family tell me. It’s almost comical how many times I might try to tell you the same story. This is exactly why I have to keep all of my notebooks on me at all times. If I ever leave one out on my desk, it will not find its way back to my bag until I’m cursing myself in class the next day.

LOTION/COUGH DROPS/PAIN RELIEVERS: On the inside I am an old man who tries to keep a mini pharmacy on hand at all times.

SUPERBETTER: For English 101 silly

ANTI-DEPRESSANTS/SLEEPING PILLS: When I say I can’t remember anything, that includes taking my pills, so I bring them along.

LAPTOP & ACCESSORIES: Originally, I did not think I was going to have a laptop for college. After a misunderstanding between some students who matched to Emory through QuestBridge (including me) and the financial aid office, a number of us were unsure how we were going to afford a laptop for school. We thought that Emory was giving us a $2,000 stipend for laptops, but it was just a loan. Less than a month from move-in day, I just accepted that I would be using computers at the library for the school year. That is, until my aunt saved a 2013 ThinkPad from her dumpsters of the IT department she works in. The ol’ beast takes a minute or ten to get things booted up or processed but in the end she gets the job done. However, it can be difficult at times not to compare my own devices to my peer’s. For my very first college class, I remember feeling out of place as I sat in the front row with my bulky, whirring laptop while most of my classmates were behind me with their pristine Macbooks. I have learned to appreciate my laptop for its functionality but for much of my first semester it was a great source of imposter syndrome.

PENCILS/PENS: For taking notes and the occasional doodle when the lecturer is being repetitive.

HEADPHONES: Ever since our first assignment was to listen to 99% Invisible, I have been obsessed with podcasts. I was an occasional listener previously, but I fell face first into a rabbit hole. My best find has without a doubt been Critical Role, a Dungeons and Dragons podcast with voice actors playing through a years-long campaign. It is easy to feel immersed a world of tieflings, toad demons, little goblin girls, and much more when the players are balancing realistic role-play with hearty comradery. Each episode is between 3-5 hour long. I just started episode 11.

STEELERS YETI CUP: This is the big daddy of the lot. Literally. This cup belonged to my father who passed away in the middle of fall semester. One of the most difficult parts of the grieving process was that I couldn’t bring much back to Emory to remember him by. I’ve used this cup every day since I first recovered it from back home and I will never be caught dead without it nearby. My dad loved football and black unsweetened tea. He was never a materialistic man but he got the money together to get a custom-made Yeti cup with his favorite team on it. He used it nearly every single day to the point where the tea stains had to be bleached out of the inside of the cup. Sometimes when I’m holding it, I’ll get random memories of him like when he picked me up from school and wouldn’t stop going on and on about how amazing it was that the ice he put in before his shift at work was still frozen. Sometimes I get mental snapshots in my head of him sipping on his tea the same way I’ll be sipping water from the same cup. Is it healthy to always have my dad with me? I’m not sure but I’m sticking with him for as long as I can.

What’s in My Trusty Blue Backpack?

By Rachel Vellanikaran

What’s In My Backpack?
  • Various notebooks, binders, and folders for my chemistry and french class
  • Course textbooks for french and english
  • Wallet
  • Calculator
  • Pens and pencils
  • Headphones
  • Laptop and laptop charger
  • *not shown in the picture* Phone and student ID/keys, chapstick, gum

I chose to display what’s in my backpack for this assignment containing all of the various necessities that I lug around throughout the day. To be honest, I’ve been using the same sturdy sky-blue backpack since my early high school years. Backpacks are expensive… and this one has been pretty dependable thus far, so why buy a new one? And there are too many memories attached to this trusty bag to ever toss it.

I would say that the contents of my backpack are somewhat representative of me, or at least representative of how I spend a lot of my time: doing work. As a college student, it’s typical that I have quite a bit of studying and assignments to do for my classes.

This type of writing was a reflective experience in understanding what I need and find most important to have with me at all times. I think it’s interesting how this catalog of items in my bag will change throughout different phases of my life. Being a college student with a laptop, and textbooks, and pens and pencils are necessary to my life as of now and the next 4 or so years ahead of me. But as I progress and change, whether it be a new job or house or family, my necessities will obviously reflect these changes.

Sugar Mountain Bound

I took this picture on Sunday night after getting back from the Outdoor Emory ski trip. That explains the distinct lack of boring textbooks and pens. I had also been on a bus for 7 hours prior to the photo being taken, which explains why the essay is a little bit late (apoloigies, I was so knackered).

Ski trousers: These were borrowed from my roommate’s nextdoor neighbour. They were warm and kept snow out. Simple, yet effective. 9/10

Ellesse T-shirt: This was a great purchase made when I went to Chicago over fall break. Cheap, comfortable, although it has shrunk a bit recently (or I’ve grown). A top 15 t-shirt of mine. 7/10

Mask: I don’t want Coronavirus. It’s not the most stylish of items. 5/10

Goggles: A little bit overpriced at $40. They did the job on the slopes. 7/10

Gloves: For a piece of clothing whose sole purpose is warmth and insulation, they weren’t very warm and insulating. I didn’t enjoy having numb fingers on the chair lifts. 3/10

Chewing Gum: I’m slightly paranoid about having bad breath, so I ALWAYS have some chewing gum on me. 10/10

Beef Jerky: Gifted to me by a new friend I made on the ski trip. Being high in protein, it is a great snack although I wasn’t a huge fan of this brand. I’m sure those around me appriciated that I had two pieces of chewing gum immediately after consuming the jerky. Nothing worse than jerky breath. 6/10

Two rings (can be seen just next to each of the gloves): My girlfriend’s Dad is a jeweler. I made the plain ring under his instruction, in his shop. It was my most prized possesion until he made me the pinky ring as a going away present for college. They are always either on my fingers or in my bag. 100/10 (not a typo.)

Last but not least, My Red Backpack: A bold colour choice, yes. It makes me very easy to find in a crowd. This trusty item has been with me through years of school in London and hours upon hours on the tube. It has carried its fair share of items that are legal in England but not legal until you’re 21 in this great Country. This bag has been to Australia, Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand and has yet to fail me once. This questionable fashion choice has now become one of my most sentimental items with countless memories attached to it. 100/10 (also not a typo.)

This was a really enjoyable exercise because who doesn’t love scoring things out of ten? I have items, in my 5/6 year old bag, that were purchased just a day or two ago. I remember chucking my bag in the boot of my first car just as well as I remember the blindness and pain that I felt when trying to ski through artificial snow machine plooms before I bought the goggles. This was the most fun I’ve had writing for about as long as I can recall. 9/10

A Bag of Me


  • Laptop with stickers: My MacBook Pro is the most valuable item in my bag. To personalize it, I bought stickers which I feel represent the things I love – FRIENDS (the T.V. show), Disney World, an Emory Swoop State sticker which was most recently added, turtles and animals in general, and various yellow stickers that radiate positive energy for me.
  • Backpack from Costco: I am very attracted to the colors of my backpack. I love the lavender-like blue, and the mixture of colors in the middle. I bought this backpack for college at Costco which was an excellent find because it was very cheap. Unfortunately, it is not waterproof, and I found this out the hard way, having to air out my notebooks for days. Attached to my backpack is my sustainability pin and on the not pictured side, a cute stuffed Poptart keychain given to me by a friend.
  • Folder: This bright pink folder is the only folder I have because like most colleges these days, most resources are provided electronically. It’s better that way to save the trees.
  • Ruler: My dad very adamantly wanted to buy me this ruler which he found at Walmart. It is sturdy and a bright pretty color, I just don’t have much use for it. I carry it around nonetheless.
  • Pencil case: Inside my pencil case are my favorite pens in the entire world – Muji pens. I color code all my notes with these pens and make artwork with these pens. I also have many colored highlighters and my favorite ClearPoint brand mechanical pencils (size 0.5 of course).
  • Calculator: This is my calculator. It may look ordinary, but it certainly doesn’t smell that way. It smells strongly of Pumpkin Cupcakes for reasons that will be explained shortly.
  • Small graphing notebook: This is the new notebook I purchased for my Calculus class. I need something cute, small, and slightly aesthetic to get me through this class.
  • Emory hand sanitizer: Free merchandise from Emory has left me with this wonderful addition to my bag. It is fitting for the time now since the Coronavirus is becoming more and more concerning.
  • Mini brush with mirror: In case I need to brush my hair in an emergency or just absolutely need a miniature mirror, I have one. I am pretty sure this came from Justice.
  • Spray hand sanitizer: A gift from my best friend from high school, I can now expand the ways I sanitize my hands.
  • Earbuds with adapter: I keep this around in case I have left my AirPods somewhere or they have died. I also often lend these to people when they need to borrow a pair of earbuds. The dongle is essential.
  • Burts Bees Vanilla Chapstick: I need chapstick especially in the winter. This is my favorite flavor, but I often forget I have this in my bag and keep an extra in my jacket pocket.
  • Empty Pumpkin Cupcake hand sanitizer: This hand sanitizer is the culprit who leaked all over the small pouch on the front of my bag. Since my calculator lives in there, it constantly smells like Pumpkin Cupcake which is an excitement every time I do math.
  • SuperBetter book: The game/book for my English class. It is small enough that I can carry it around with me and read whenever I want (for class or pleasure).
  • Deer Park plastic water bottle: I am not one for plastic water bottles, and I have many reusable ones in my room. Sometimes, however, you just wake up late and all you have time to do is grab one of these water bottles and make the most out of it!
  • Starbucks Vanilla Frappuccino: This is an example of my sleep deprivation. I love procrastinating and doing all my homework for Monday at around 10:00 pm on a Sunday. This results in a late night and some quick, delicious coffee for the next day. I don’t like coffee, but this shit is good.
  • Room key with Atlanta Hawks lanyard: Honestly, I do not keep my room locked, but you got to carry around the key just in case of an emergency. I am also proud to be from Atlanta and show off my Atlanta Hawks lanyard.
  • My wallet featuring a HomeGoods gift card and a customized key chain: My real wallet is attached to my phone, but before college I used this tiny wallet to keep all of my cards, cash, and coins. My car keys would also be attached, but in college I am sad that I do not get my car. Instead of revealing my debit card number through the clear slot of the wallet, I chose to display a gift card I got as a graduation gift. I also got a customized key chain as a graduation gift that says “Jessica” with the state of Georgia in blue behind it. This represents Emory! I also have an old Tile attached to this wallet, back when I needed to keep track of it.
  • Large notebook for Physics: This is a brand new notebook for this semester. It is meant for three subjects, but last semester Physics took up two of them. It will be a source of extra lined paper and colorful notes.

I think a lot of information can be learned about me through the contents of my bag, but only when accompanied with a description. I can craft what you think of me through the way I describe how I use the contents in my bag. I care a lot about academics and organization which you can tell from the lay out and the different notebooks for different subjects. You can also see that I like colors. I like bright colors because they are attractive to me especially blues and pinks! I do not particularly use any of the three hand sanitizers in my bag, so in that way this self portrait is not accurate. A lot of these items live in my bag because they are meant for emergencies. I do not actually use them.

This display of all the contents in my bag showed a certain aesthetic of myself that is fascinating to me. I would not say that it is completely accurate, but maybe it is the way I am portrayed as opposed to the way I wish to be portrayed.


Bag Items:

  • 1 laptop computer
  • 1 Book (SuperBetter, for eng 101 class, duh)
  • 1 Calculator to get me through Chem 202
  • 1 stack of assorted looseleaf paper
  • 3 notebooks (blue for chem, dark blue for math, and green for Spanish)
  • 3 expo markers accompanied by an expo eraser
  • 2 Pencils
  • 2 Pens

These assorted school items accompany me throughout all my day. Occasionally I add a laptop charger, notecards, or something else I need for the day, but these items listed are constantly with me. The notebooks especially hold sentimental value because they’ve been in my bag since day 1 of college, and have remained there ever since. Thankfully, I am still getting use out of them. But it’s also important to note the items that weren’t able to make it into my bag. Sprawled on my desk lies an unopened stack of looseleaf paper, a few books, 2 binders and a folder that I brought to college, but never used. I rarely receive on paper assignment in college, so I have little to no use for binders and folders, as I once did in high school.

There were few challenges to this assignment, and I thought it was very straightforward. Every college student’s bag is probably similar, yet I still feel a connection to the items that have helped me through my first year on my own. I believe that a catalogue of ideas is most definitely a form of writing. Just as poetry is different from essays, lists and catalogues are just a unique way to express yourself through writing. After all, writing is simply a combination of words to display a meaning.

A tour of my backpack

This “What’s in my bag?” image represents my interests, motivations, and organization. Firstly, I have shown the folders of the five classes I am taking this semester–Spanish writing, english, history, art history, and financial accounting. These folders depict my range of interests and abilities. I take an advanced Spanish class since I have spoken since I was a baby, I am taking the required freshman English course but am excited about it since I love writing classes, I’m taking a history class about South Africa since my father was born there and I want to learn more about my roots, art history since I took it in high school and am looking forward to continuing, and financial accounting as a prerequisite for the business school if I choose to go down that path. I have only depicted two notebooks since I type my notes for my other classes–although I currently have two sprained fingers as depicted by the medical tape (on top of my laptop) that I keep in my bag to wrap my fingers. Additionally, I keep a planner in my bag where I plan out my work schedule and note all important dates. The page it’s opened to is from finals week when I created a detailed daily study plan that I closely followed to keep up with my work. I also always carry around my headphones since I love listening to music when walking from class to class or studying. I also carry a water bottle, pencil case, computer charger, and books for my classes, which mostly all require a lot of reading. I believe this image is very representative of me as a person since I enjoy learning, reading, and writing. The items in my bag keep me organized and on task, which is something I’m always working to improve. In order to create this image, I chose to present my folders in an “artsy,” fan-shaped way to showcase my create abilities and I flipped to a specific page in my planner to represent my organizational skills. What was challenging about this assignment was not being able to showcase my humor and deeper personality through my school supplies. I wish I had included a quote or something like that to showcase my deeper values. I do think that representing myself in a catalog of the stuff in  my bag is a type of writing because I am able to depict myself in a way where people can draw their own interpretations from what I’ve shown in my bag. What someone carries in their bag says a lot about a person, and I believe this catalog taught my reader a lot about me.

What’s in my Bag

Interestingly, I am literally sticking with every episode of the “In the Bag” from the British Vogue, and I am now going to do one episode for myself. Therefore, I would like to go along with the Vogue routine to introduce the things in my bag.

First of all, my name is Cherie Lou, and this is my bag.

My backpack is transparent with plastic texture, which makes everything inside transparent as well.

Everything in my bag

From top to bottom and from left to right, there is a list for all the stuff in my bag (and the applications in the parentheses) :

  1. A mask (I bring it because of the recent flu, although I barely use it)
  2. The key to my dorm (I always bring it, because my roommate and I are used to locking the door after we leave the dorm)
  3. Feminine hygiene products
  4. Laptop & iPad (I usually take one of them with me to class, rarely both, because they are so heavy)
  5. The pillbox (I always bring it which contains my allergy medicine and pain killer)
  6. A small notebook (I always take it to record some reminders)
  7. AirPods (I always bring it to listen to music during the commute or to call friends at leisure)
  8. My phone (I always have my phone everywhere I go because it makes me feel safe)
  9. Tissue (I always keep it in my bag, but I could never find it when I need one)
  10. The Japanese textbook (I always take it, since there is a Japanese class almost every day…)
  11. A pencil case (I always take it, although the product I use most in it is the lip balm)
  12. Flyers (I didn’t get a chance to take it out)

I actually made some subjective choices when choosing which bag to show, because I have two bags in the shift. The bigger one is for carrying the laptop and the iPad at the same time. I chose the plastic bag over the regular one because it is more stylistic, which is a characteristic that I appreciate and pursue. The content that my bag says about me is that I am a well-prepared but slightly disorganized. That is to say, I prepare things like tissue for incidents, but I couldn’t always find them when I need them. Also, I am such a typical and practical student that almost everything in my bag is the necessity for me to take classes and to study.


Zamirah Martin’s Everyday Bag

Yep. This is my everyday bag. Nothing too exciting or shocking. Let’s chat about it. So, the first thing that included is my purple-enclosed Macbook. I mean, a college kid needs a laptop, right? I mean how else are we going to watch Netflix while simultaneously typing lengthy papers? And of course… I am an Apple head so yes, it had to be a Macbook. Next, there’s a blue file binder in my bag. Honestly, I don’t ever use this file binder. Maybe I’ll find it useful this semester. Finally, there’s a pocket containing various lip products and Airpods. The explanation for the lip products… I mean… yeah maybe I don’t need as much but … how’s the saying? Oh yeah, better safe than sorry, right? Now, the Airpods… how else am I going to tune out the fierce winter wind while walking to my fourth class on Tuesdays?

By the way, I honestly don’t know why I do not have any pens and pencils in my bag. Maybe I should have added them to show I’m a scholar. However, if we are being 100% truthful, I haven’t had pencils and pens since the start of spring semester. Don’t worry, I’ll still ace this semester! (Remember, I have a Macbook… who needs pens and pencils?)

Reflection: This image is very representative of my everyday bag. These are items I all keep every day. The trickiest and easiest part about doing this assignment was understanding why I had these items in my bag. What was the point of me having Airpods? Why carry a laptop? Surface level, it was pretty clear but diving deep into why I actually carried these in my bag everyday were pretty tricky. For example, yes I clearly carry Airpods to listen to music. However, thinking further about why listening to music everyday was a necessity required me to dig deep and think about things that haven’t previously crossed my mind. So, I guess reflecting on things that came naturally was the hardest part and taught me that even the most mundane and ordinary things that are apart of everyday life are still meaningful and important aspects that makes a day go by a little bit smoother.

SQ2: Organized Clutter

Textbooks (Calculus and CS): The two classes that genuinely require textbook reading this semester. I always have them with me so I can supplement lectures with reading. I’ve always done best when I learn a topic or concept in two different teaching styles as it forces me to think through a topic from different stances.

HeadPhones (Wired and Wireless): I love music and listen to music constantly. Through the Spotify year in review analysis, I listened to over 62 days of music in 2019. I haven’t yet decided if I want to listen to more or less music this year.

Calculator: I like to write 58008 and flip the calculator upside down. I can also put all the notes and dates from my History classes and use it during tests. I haven’t figured out why I get so many weird looks, maybe I have a bad poker face.

Notebooks and Planner: I don’t really use the planner. It’s mainly there for the appearance of having some form of organization. In reality, my desk is always a mess and my backpack normally pokes into my back due to the books not being inserted the same way. One of my new year resolutions is to plan out my week each Sunday night.

Quest Bar: A staple for any bag, athlete, or health-minded individual. Easy nutrition for on-the-go people with things to do and mountains to climb. Get your own at: Wait did the instructions want us to advertise or not?

Tea Bag: Another new years resolution was to spend less money at Kaldis and the Peet’s in the library.

Pencil Case: I can’t tell you what’s inside. Not drugs.

Thermal Temperature Maintaining Insulated Bottle: I keep the tea bag in here to make sure it stays warm. It’s just hard to get the air inside the bottle warm and maintain the temperature while I insert the tea bag. Thermodynamics outside the classroom is just as irritating as during class.

Melatonin: I have a really hard time falling asleep, and often go straight from the library to bed, so I carry melatonin with me so I can take it about thirty minutes before I leave the library. Not only does it help regulate my sleep schedule, but it allows me to put a physical barrier on how much time I spend in the library. I work better at night, but constantly struggle waking up in the morning due to late nights; this is my effort to create a more rigorous sleep and waking schedule.

Pencil: There was too much space in between my computer and the textbooks without it. In reality, I’m very against any pencil without a full eraser, which I made sure to represent. I don’t erase pencil, I simply cross it our with a blue or green pen, then continue.

Computer: A modern necessity. Note taking, coding, emails, and more is completed on a daily.

Books (How To Not Be Wrong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous): I generally have books which I’m reading ulterior to my classes. My father instilled a deep love for reading early on, and I pass time immersed in a book. I generally read two books simultaneously: one more STEM orientated and another which might be a novel or historical account. Though I would recommend How To Not Be Wrong to any math or science orientated person who feels like more recent courses have been taught in a less intuitive way. Recently, I struggled to stay engaged in my Math and Physics courses as they are seeming to be more arbitrary. This book is reinstalling an appreciation for the applications of statistical analysis and calculus.

Rubik’s Cube: I can’t solve it but it makes me seem like a quirky (in an endearing way) individual. I can currently solve the first layer and make a white cross, so that’s pretty cool.

Raybans Case. Also not drugs. Sunglasses.

Blue Power-aid Bottle: A lot of people had them at the beginning of the year so I thought it was a freshman thing. Now people keep asking me which sport I play. It’s quite fun to see which sports pass as genuine college Varsity sports. My favorite one which was accepted was Croquet but surprisingly Table Tennis was rejected. I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to try to get by as a D3 Cheese Roller.

Mac Adapter: I’m an avid Liverpool F.C fan and watch all the games on my roommate’ television through an HDMI adapter.

Nuun Electrolight Replacement: Okay fine a little bit of drugs. It’s a legal amount in Colombia so no biggie.

This was a very engaging activity for me as it required an analysis of how my stuff will be perceived by others. Through my process, I wrote the explanations for each individual item (besides the pencil) prior to organizing and snapping the photo. This forced me to rationalize why that item matters to me an whether or not it’s necessary to depict an accurate representation of myself. For example, I had a drawing notepad in my backpack. I generally love drawing, but had that due to drawing a lot over winter break. Using my first semester as a sample size, I won’t be drawing a lot while in college, and the rest of my bag depicts the college representation of myself.

Though my descriptions for some items were sarcastic, I feel my bag accurately represented who I am. I’m a naturally creative person who tries to not take anything serious until I have to, am passionate about it, or it’s of importance to another person. What was challenging is finding an appropriate balance of seriousness and sarcasm: though I could certainly write genuine or satirical descriptions of each item, I didn’t want to come off corny or hyper-somber. I certainly feel like this assignment is a useful and enjoying type of writing. While laying out and photographing the bag itself is not, I consider the writing a necessary explanation for the picture. Any form or conscious writing is not only a type of literature but also an exercise in synthesis.