My Go-To Gear

What do our GEAR UP eMentors bring with them to their classes each day? Read on and find out!


I am going to explain what I use every day in terms of regions of my backpack. I’ll start with the main pocket: this is where I keep 3 spiral notebooks, one for each class that I use to take notes. I also usually pick up a newspaper each day, either New York Times or Seattle Times that I try to read between classes. Most of the time there is also a heavy contingency of wrinkled up papers smashed into the bottom of my backpack, but that is mostly for aesthetics. The most important thing in this pocket is my planner. It’s a little black book that I write everything I need to do for each day in. I learned in high school that if I don’t use my planner I will forget everything- I highly recommend a planner once you try to balance classes, clubs, work and friends in college. 3 days a week I also cram in a pair of shorts and my running shoes so I can stop by the IMA between classes to play basketball or work out.

In the front pocket I keep my pencils, pens, calculators, and the 7 colored pencils left in my 24 pack. I also keep my bike lock in this pocket- since the UW is so large I usually find myself trying to get to class with less than 10 minutes and biking is my only option. I also like to keep my Zune and headphones in here- in case I go to the library it helps me tune out distracting noise. The most important thing I carry in this pocket is snacks, however. When my day starts with classes at 9 and ends with work or community service meetings at 4 or 5 I need my chocolate and Nature Valley granola bars to get through the day. I usually like to get the 200 pack at Costco!

The last thing that’s key for me each day in my backpack is my metal water bottle. I drink at least 2 things of water throughout each day.


For school everyday I carry my north face black backpack. This backpack is by far the most used thing that I have in my home, except for my television. Each morning I make sure that in my backpack I have my 3-subject notebook. I keep all of my notes in one place, which is helpful because I don’t have to remember as much, but it can also be a bad thing; last quarter I lost it and I had to recopy all of my notes from my fellow students. In order to take accurate notes I must have three different types of writing implements: mechanical pencils, pens and highlighters. I understand that this is too much, however it makes me feel smarter when I pull out a fully stocked pencil pouch.

One of the most important things that I take to school with me is my cup of black coffee. I really hated the stuff in high school but then I began working the early shifts at the University Newsstand. We only served black coffee, so I was forced to begin drinking it! I also pack granola bars to sustain me throughout the day, until I can get home and make dinner.  Each of these items mentioned I bring to school on a daily basis. Sometimes I mix it up and pack candy, but that doesn’t happen to often (I usually just buy it at school).


My “go-to” gear for a regular day of school is pretty simple. I used to always bring a backpack with me to class but last quarter I started using a tote instead.

I’m really particular about pens so I always make sure I have my special blue ones. Not the classy kind that last forever. The ones I use come in packs of 12 and only cost $2. I ONLY write in blue ink so I’m guaranteed to have at least three or four of these pens in my pencil pouch. I also love highlighters. They’re useful for reading and they help me keep my planner organized. By the way, I never leave home without my planner. Without it I’d never get anything done.

Last quarter I had notebooks (and matching folders) for every class but this quarter I’m using a four-subject notebook instead. I realized that it’s a lot easier to remember to bring one notebook than it is to remember four. The downside of this is that if I forget my one notebook, I don’t have anything to write on.

I’m an International Studies major, which means that I’m generally carrying at least one or two books with me. I have a lot of breaks so I try to make the most of them by catching up on reading. Right now, I’m reading “Buddhism, Diplomacy, and Trade.”

UW is in Seattle, which means that on any given day I need to be prepared for thunder, lightning, a downpour, snow, and sun. I’m not a fan of umbrellas (what real Washingtonian is?) so I usually carry one of my North Face jackets with me.

I love breakfast but I rarely have enough time to eat it in the morning. Instead, I eat granola bars on my way to class. Chewy and Sunbelt are my favorite brands but I’m not too picky. As long as there’s granola and chocolate, I’m good to go.

Another thing I never leave home without is my iPod. Nothing like some good music to get you all amped and ready for class. Also, I’ve noticed that the solicitors, recruiters, etc. on Red Square are a lot less likely to bother you if you have headphones in your ears!


My “go-to” gear for a regular day of school is different depending on my quarter. For example, this quarter is very heavy on reading assignments. I have five short books for one of my French classes, two short books for my other French class, and three articles a week for my psychology class. Quarters like this are very rare for me, but it means that I have to carry at least two different books and hard copies of my articles. I do most of my reading when I’m off campus, but I bring my books with me to school just in case I get a break in between classes.   This quarter I start my first class at 9:30, and I end each day at 5:00 pm.  I only have an hour break every day between classes and work; therefore I am forced to eat on campus or bring lunch with me.  For the most part I bring money to school for lunch, pack fruits or trail mix for afternoon snacks, and I always bring a bottle of water (there is nothing more frustrating than paying for water).

The rest of the stuff that I bring to school is very basic: my notebook, pens, pencils, stapler, my phone, band aids (I always get paper cuts), calculator, iPod, my Husky Card ID and last but not least MY PLANNER. I have a very packed schedule, so without my planner I would have a hard time organizing and staying on track.  I bring my mug with green tea in it, and usually fill it up with hot water on campus throughout the day.  I try my best to eat breakfast at home, but if that doesn’t work out I also bring bagel and cream cheese that I eat in the bus on my way to campus. If I had to pick three items that are very essential to having a smooth day, it would be my phone, my planner and my Husky Card.


Number ONE: Coffee coffee coffee!!  If you haven’t caught on to this already, I’m a bit of a coffee addict/snob/lover.  I refuse to start my day until I’ve had my cup.  Unfortunately, living in Seattle has given me quite an expensive taste.  However much I would love to get multiple lattes a day from Vivace, Café Vita, or Victrola, my poor college student budget can’t handle it.  Luckily I have access to free pounds of Starbucks Decaf Café Verona through my nice barista boyfriend.  Decaf you ask?  Ironically, I can’t drink regular coffee too frequently or I get headaches.  So I only drink regular on those days I’m realllllllly tired.

Number TWO: Sometimes I think I live out of my North Face backpack.  I would like to carry a cute purse around all the time, but it’s just not realistic.  With all my massive textbooks, random folders, and various writing utensils, a backpack is easier on my shoulders.

Number THREE: I’m a big fan of highlighting.  I think the more a book is written in, banged around, and marked up, the better; it shows it has been used and loved!  Highlighting in my textbooks is a more efficient studying method for me then writing notes while I read.  I lose my momentum if I’m stopping to write down a fact every few minutes.  Needless to say, I use up a lot of highlighters.  I always buy a set of five at the beginning of each quarter.

Number FOUR: I tend to use a simple notebook and black pen for taking notes.  I’m a pretty quick writer and carrying my laptop around can be tiresome.  Plus, a lot of professors post slides before lecture, so it’s easiest to print those and take notes directly on them.  The only thing I’m specific about is that I always buy a three subject notebook rather than three separate notebooks; it saves space and that way I have all my notes in one, organized place.

Number FIVE: An umbrella is necessary for me in Seattle.  There is absolutely nothing worse than trying to focus in class soaked to the bone.  So I always have a little tiny one in my backpack!

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