Back-to-school shopping list: Virtual learning edition

Celine Bellegarda/Staff

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Who doesn’t like back-to-school shopping? Buying new notebooks and some fun items from the dollar section to spruce up your room is always a good way to get excited for a new semester. But it can feel a little less fun if you’re actually just staying in the same place you’ve been living in for the past five months. Instead of moping around about how drab attending classes online will be, get your back-to-school shopping on and grab some items that will make virtual learning a little easier. Follow this guide for inspiration on useful and fun finds that won’t break the bank.

Door sign

If you’re struggling with parents, siblings or pets who burst into your room in the middle of your exams, it might be time to invest in a whiteboard or blackboard to hang on your door. This way, you can warn your housemates if they’re about to walk in on you in the middle of a presentation, or if you’re just in lecture but would prefer not to be disturbed. Having something you can write on and erase is great because you can easily change the message on your door. Even if you buy a plain whiteboard, you can always get some fun colored markers and decorate your sign!

Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones

Investing in some basic earplugs is a great way to help you focus on your readings or assignments without hearing all the sounds that are constantly coming out of your house. You can get a little jar or box to keep them in and make it a little more decorative than just functional. You can also take it a step further and invest in some noise-canceling headphones, but some basic earplugs are a great start.

Study snacks

Used to buying a coffee on your way to class? Use that extra money from skipping a latte to buy some tasty study snacks to keep around your room. If caffeine’s your thing, try something like chocolate-covered espresso beans. If you miss eating cereal at weird hours in the dining halls, buy a box of your favorite cereal to snack on while you study. And if you really miss your fancy coffees, consider buying a milk frother or fancy mug to spruce up the coffee your parents make. 

Notebooks and a lap desk

Buying new notebooks feels like an important part of a new school year. Having online classes makes it tempting to just take notes on your computer, but buying a couple of bright notebooks can help you differentiate your classes and motivate you to actually take notes. If you’ve been attending classes in your bed or on the couch, you can also buy a lap desk or any sort of tray that can support your laptop and a notebook. And if you’ve long ditched the idea of writing on physical paper, consider trying a new note-taking app or making fun backgrounds for your online notes.

Calendar, planner, journal

It’s always good to start a year with a fresh calendar or planner. Now that all your classes and work are online, it might be a great change to write down your meetings and assignments in a paper journal or even a calendar you can put on your wall or desk. You could also take this new semester as an opportunity to start a journal, maybe noting all the strange things about taking classes online. Who knows, maybe someday it’ll be a bestseller!

Chair or beanbag

Most of us are used to having several places to study, including libraries and common spaces where we live. But at home, you might find yourself feeling stuck in the same spot, such as the chair at your desk or your bed. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to give yourself a variety of places to take classes. Consider buying a $20 beanbag, bungee chair or another comfy chair. You also could make a little setup with a lounge or deck chair outside in your backyard.

Comfy loungewear

Longing to buy some new clothes but feeling silly about the fact that your cat is the only one who will see you in them? Invest in some clothing that’s fun but comfortable. That way, you’ll be motivated to change out of your pajamas, but you’ll still feel like you’re wearing pajamas.

UC Berkeley room decorations

Just because you may not actually be on the UC Berkeley campus doesn’t mean you can’t pretend you’re still on campus! Treat yourself to some fun UC Berkeley decor, such as a banner, a poster or a life-size cutout of Oski! OK, maybe not that last one. At the very least, print out some of your favorite UC Berkeley memories and put them up around your room. You can get crafty and make some blue and gold decorations for your room. Or cover your window with a large poster showing the view of campus.

Back-to-school shopping doesn’t just have to be about buying clothing organizers and desks for your new apartment or dorm. Even stuck at home, you can make some fun changes to your space to make yourself feel ready for online school. We at the Clog wish you all a great fall semester!

Contact Elysa Dombro at [email protected].