This week was the halfway point for my study abroad term, and while I’m loving Germany, my friends and I are struggling to find new things to do. Since we have class for up to 6 hours a day, there’s not much time to do things during the week. So, every day it seems we go to the Neckar island in town, spread out a blanket and read, talk, and just hang out. However, this past week, we all found ourselves feeling extremely homesick and bored. So, this post will be focused on how to find new things to when traveling abroad and how to handle the homesickness that you may or may not feel.
Study abroad for long periods of time can be difficult. Since it’s summer, I find myself feeling even more disconnected from my friends in the U.S. since they’re having so much fun going on beach trips or hanging out together. To help with this, it’s really important that I fill my time with fun things (you know, things that aren’t studying German). Therefore, this past week I’ve focused on finding new things that I can do during the afternoons after school.
I’ve always loved the outdoors, but back in the U.S., I never had time to really go hiking during the week because you have to drive far away and prepare for hours of hiking. In Germany, though, it’s so easy to go on a hike. Tübingen has more than 30 hiking trails in the city, and there are many, many more in Schönbuch, the nature reserve nearby. This has made it really easy to go on a short hike after school. Also, our bus passes allow us to ride on the regional trains. With this we can go to other towns and explore their surrounding areas. I’ve been using an app called “Komoot” which is super helpful because it with suggest hikes for you to try and then has navigational capabilities. This is super useful considering the fact that barely any of the hiking trails are marked here.
Here are some pictures from my most recent hike…
This may be weird, but I’ve also started sketching a few buildings in my neighborhood. The way Germans design subdivisions and houses is really different than in America, so I think it’s really fun to *attempt* to draw them. This is a good way to spend an hour or two, and it’s always fun to learn something new!
This is by far my favorite activity. Almost every German town has at least 1 museum. Most of them are free to visit, so it’s really easy to take an afternoon and explore these. Again, I’ve used the trains to visit the towns surrounding Tübingen to explore their downtown areas and museums. This is so easy to do, and if you don’t enjoy the outdoors as much as me or if the weather is gross, this is something super inexpensive and enjoyable!
This is definitely something that not everyone enjoys, but I’ve recently bought a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in German. I’ve spent a lot of my time in the botanical gardens and other parks working on reading this. I’ve never read the Harry Potter series before (I know, I’m sorry), so it’s been a lot of fun! Whenever I come across a word or phase I don’t understand, I look it up and write it down in my notebook. I normally only read 6-7 pages in an hour, so I’m making relatively slow progress. However, I’ve found this extremely rewarding and way more fun than learning German in class or with other methods. If you’re studying a language and struggling to make it interesting, try picking up a book that you know in your chosen language. You’ll learn a lot, and it’ll be a challenge, which I always love.
Lastly, while this isn’t something you may be able to do during the week, Europe offers the amazing opportunity to travel! The weekends are perfect for long distance trips, or you could spend your Saturday shopping, visiting historic cities, or just going somewhere you’ve never been. During the week, I like to go and explore other cities near Tübingen. It’s so easy to just hop on a train and go to Metzingen or Reutlingen and walk around and sight-see. I recently took a weekend trip to Interlaken, Switzerland! We went hang gliding and hiking. Overall, it was really amazing and so beautiful!
Until next time, tschüss!