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Thanks For Having My Back: An Ode to the Bag That Got Me Through College

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

To my dearest purple bag…I wore you on my back every semester, but who carried who?

In school, one’s backpack is an extension of self. It bears the weight of all the necessary tools for education: textbooks, laptops, pencils, folders, and…whatever else is needed to survive the long, arduous day: water bottles, lip gloss, granola bars, deodorant, chargers. 

Considerably, a backpack is the glue that holds it all together — especially for a college student.

My bag of choice throughout college has been nothing short of consistent: my purple  Fjällräven Kånken with light purple straps.

woman sitting on the grass with a purple fjallraven kanken backpack
Original photo by Nora Donovan

My backpack and I go way back, we’ve become almost one when it comes to navigating the paths of the UMass campus. We have been late to class together, but most often showed up on time, and sometimes missed it altogether. To be fair, my backpack laid relatively dormant for a few semesters as COVID raged. But, it still served as a vessel for my laptop, notebooks, and pens when not in use. 

We’ve made countless memories together and learned a lot from each other. For instance, the size of my backpack has motivated me to become somewhat of a minimalist — cramming in the essentials. And, my backpack has taught me what it means to wear a few bumps and scratches with pride.

purple fjallraven kanken backpack on a porch with sunlight beams.
Original photo by Nora Donovan

Sure, this attachment to an intimate object is a bit…much. But,  my lovely Kånken has never led me astray. Not once has it failed me, or driven me to consider a replacement — it has simply always had my back.

Graduation is right around the corner, baring its sharp teeth of finality and inevitability. My days of parading around campus with a purpose are numbered. The same goes for my backpack, whose fate remains unbeknownst to both of us following the conclusion of this last semester. How will this backpack serve me beyond the realm of education? Sure, we have gone on trips together and surveyed the world past the confines of Amherst, MA. But, we’re rapidly approaching the end of an era.

The transitional period after graduation is unavoidable. The many constants we as college seniors are accustomed to will be no longer (e.g. using my purple backpack every day). We’re all leaving our creature comforts behind, and heading off into the “real world,” (whatever that is). Entering an age of unknowns, we must embrace the uncertainty and cherish the quirks that got us this far, aka graduation. 

Maybe your “purple backpack” is your sticker-plastered Hydro Flask, or your favorite coat that has managed to survive the harsh winters, or even your random notebook that you have been able to repurpose for several different classes. Regardless of what your emotional-support object is, when your final class ends, everything will be different.

There’s no saying what the future holds. But, we can remain present and practice gratitude for the small things that helped us along the way, even if we weren’t entirely conscious of the impact they were having on us. While we hold a spot in our hearts for what once was, we can keep them open for what will be and all the silly little things we will grow to cherish in our upcoming chapters of life. 

So, with that being said…I want to say thanks once more, to my purple backpack, for everything. <3

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Nora Donovan

U Mass Amherst '23

Nora is a senior majoring in Communication and Sociology, with a minor in Business. She is passionate about art, music, writing, and working out.