View of the Heidelberg castle, old town and old bridge from above. The photo is framed by a green tree and some greenery at the bottom.

5 solo activities to make the most out of your exchange

A common challenge while you’re on exchange is making friends of finding people that are willing to join you on your adventures in your exchange destination. However, this should not stop you from making the most of your free time while you’re there. Here are 5 activities that I did to have some fun and keep the lonely feelings away!

1. Explore the city!

I know this is a very obvious one, but I mean it! Put on a tourist outfit, grab your camera and go out to see the place you moved to! A simple way to make sure you get the most out of your touristic adventure is to google things like ”what to do in (your exchange destination)” and try to see all the things listed. Try to do it all by foot so you really get a sense of the streets, architecture and people that live there. I personally love trying to get lost on side streets and walk around without a map. Another thing that I love is visiting churches. Old cities always have some history revolving around their churches and sometimes a church is one of the foundation buildings of a town. No matter your background and beliefs, admiring the architectural details, stained glass and paintings will always be enjoyable.

photo depicting the inside of a gothic style church with the characteristic arches and pillars. The color pallet of the church is mainly white and brick red.
Photo: Amelia Irimies

2. Visit museums

Surprisingly this one seems to be quite intimidating to many people, but there is nothing to be scared of while visiting a museum alone. And if you fear that the sterile quietness of a museum might make you feel awkward, don’t hesitate to bring a pair of headphones with you. Museums are a lovely weekend activity and visiting them alone lets you spend as much or as little time as you want staring at a painting. This means that, if you’re like me, you can skip through all the medieval art and get straight to the best part of the museum: anything but the medieval art.

Photo of the inside of an art useum. The walls are light green and numerous old paintings are hung up. There is also a small sculpture and the floor is wooden.
Photo: Amelia Irimies

3. Take yourself out to dinner

I must admit, this one was quite scary even for me. To sit down at a restaurant all alone and eat a full meal in the silence of your own company felt daunting, maybe even embarrassing. But truth is you only have to do it once to realize it’s not as bad as you imagined. So don’t let not having a date stop you from tasting delicious local cuisine. And as a bonus you can have any messy or garlic loaded dish and there will be no one to judge.

Inside a American style restaurant. The walls are covered in red and white tile, wooden chairs and tables can be seen and the floor is gray.
Photo: Amelia Irimies

4. Outdoor sports

This one goes hand in hand with my first point, why not combine some physical activity with some pretty views. I highly recommend biking and hiking but, if you’re a little crazy, running is also a great one. I particularly liked my hike here in Heidelberg because not only did I get to fully enjoy the warmth of one of the first spring days but I also got to see the city from above. I loved the view of the river, the old town and, far in the distance, my student housing! It really put into perspective the streets I’ve explored before. And of course, biking along the river here in Heidelberg has also been lovely, especially on foggy evenings.

Wide angle photo of an outdoor amphitheater. The chairs and stairs are made of stone and there is grass growing around the stone. Behind it there are trees.
A outdoor amphitheater I hiked up to. Photo: Amelia Irimies

5. Go to the cinema

This one might not suit the touristic side of all cities but, if you’re lucky, the city you’re in might have a classic old cinema still running. The one here in Heidelberg is particularly charming as it’s small and the interior makes you feel like you’re entering a movie yourself. The classy red chairs, the lamps, the architectural details on the walls and the checkered floor in the bathroom really showcase the vintage feel of the place. To top it all off, I saw Poor things, which you may know has very interesting cinematography that tied in perfectly with this cinema setting.

A tight white hallway with two doors on either side. A movie poster is hung up at the end of the hallway and the floor is covered in black and white checkered tile.
Photo: Amelia Irimies

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