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I am a Master’s student and like millions of others, I have a huge bag which is my pet at graduate school. It is my survival kit and I trust it to pull me out of any issue that I face in my academic life. Yesterday, as I was rummaging through my bag to find a pen, I hit the its base and realised that it was looking at a sea bed of lost treasures. Reminder sticky notes, old lip balms, forgotten travel plans, sketched out time tables, lost bills and important lecture notes among others. The description makes me look lousy, but the fact is that such a chaos represents a graduate student’s life.

Studying a hefty program, comes with a bag of expectations and its consequent reality. You’re supposed to be aware, inquisitive, active, involved and focused, all at the same time. Also, you will be have late night drinking sessions, mini travel plans, an evening jog to stay fit, and the nagging feeling of career plans everyday. All those myriad of thoughts and routines get dumped into the poor bag.

Hence, just like one of those celebrity youtube videos, where they pull out their MAC cosmetics and sunblock lotions as must-haves in their bags, I will be listing the must-haves in a graduate student’s bag:

  1. Laptop is the ammunition with which you built your academic life and succeed. Recharge it fully to make sure you do not have to carry the weight of a charger.
  2. Wallet, because you need it to keep your student id safe and you need money to buy coffee and food. I’ve never discovered any other purpose for it.
  3. Sticky notes for mental reminders of group meetings, library due dates, assignment deadlines etc.
  4. Notepad for all lecture discussions and mental notes, all through the day. Pens, because you won’t realise when ones ink dies.
  5. A book or newspaper, because apart from all the heavy readings and lecture notes, you need to read something else. Generous students can carry Kindles, it has a long lasting battery and you can access massive literature anytime.
  6. Earphones, since you often need to pretend you are studying, so no one disturbs you at school.
  7. Water bottle, as often that is all you have to stay up and ward off hunger pangs in the middle of a lecture.
  8. Miscellaneous, like loose coins, keys, lip balms, mascara or kohl or mint (for impromptu dates), sanitizer etc.

So all those students planning on embarking their higher studies soon, just keep in these little pointers in mind. Finding a ten dollar note when you’re having a bad day, will definitely cheer you up.

Mariyam Raza Haider

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A journalist by training, Mariyam Haider is a writer and performance poet in Singapore.
She is the researcher of the book The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age written by James Crabtree.
Her writing has appeared in Hindustan Times, Livemint, Feminism In India, New Asian Writing and Kitaab.

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