Photo of an entry to the cinema. At the top of the door there is a large lit up pannel with the text GLORIETTE and the names and schedule of the films currently being rolled. The door is a dark colour and has written EINGANG on it. On the walls of the hallway leading to the door there are movie posters.

A week in the life of an exchange student in Heidelberg

If you’re going on exchange to Heidelberg to do your thesis this is what a week in your life might look like! My typical week was very similar to the schedule of my other friends so this post should give you a good image of what to expect from your exchange.

Work days

Work days are mostly spent in the lab as you can expect. Mine were a simple 9 to 5 schedule but this varies a lot based on the type of project you have. I would say the German work culture is quite serious when it comes to schedules. You should expect quite set rules and order. However, colleagues always made my work days something to look forward to! I collaborated with many people during my project and it really improved my experiment planning and critical thinking because I got many perspectives on what steps I should take next when encountering setbacks.

During the work day I would have a lunch break that I would always spend going to the student canteen next to my lab where fresh food was served for very cheap. This saved me a lot of time that I would otherwise spend meal prepping and also gave me insight into some classic home German foods that you might not find in restaurants.

After the lab work was done I had the afternoons all to myself. I spent this time either by working out, spending time with my flat mates or joining ESN events! I do mention ESN a lot in my blogs because it was the best part of my exchange. It gave me the opportunity to meet many people and I felt like the event organizers actually cared about the activities. The events are spread out through the week so it was a great way to disconnect from the stress of the thesis.


Heidelberg is a small city so the weekends were more chill than a typical weekend in Stockholm. There are a few bar options but clubs are very limited. I would usually take bike rides along the river, go shopping on the never-ending Hauptstraße and go swimming in the city pool. My first months there I tried to see the museums and other tourist attractions that the city offers. Once the weather allows it, students enjoy gathering on the Neckarwiese, the side of the river, to have picknicks and, later in the day, play drinking games. Sometimes the mornings were perfect for hiking. A few times there were markets throughout the city, some selling fresh produce and some organized for people to resell their old clothes.

My favorite was the cinema. Heidelberg has three preserved old cinemas, Gloria, Gloriette and Die Kamera, that roll current films but keep the old-timey feel of the cinema. They even kept the original ticket selling booths and before every movie rolls they have a montage of the clerks smiling from behind the glass to show appreciation for their employees. If you do have the occasion I think this is an experience that is very worth it.

If the time allowed it, trips to nearby cities were also a great way to make the most out of the weekend. There are many transportation options depending on your budget, including high speed trains or FlixBus, and this is a great way to break away from the limited options of Heidelberg. Because it is near the French border, you could even go experience some French cuisine and maybe extend your language skills even more!

Overall, most of my time was taken up by working on my thesis which is why I urge you to say yes to any opportunity to break away from the lab routine. If you want more specific recommendations for ways to spend your time there please reach out to me, I would love to chat more about my experience!

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