When I was doing research prior to leaving for Germany, I came across many things that I had said I wanted to do while I was here. I had a list in my mind and an expectation of how I would spend my days. However, after two weeks in Leipzig, I have found that the best experiences I have had were ones that I would have never thought to look up. I have found so many great things to do around the city. Though Leipzig is not a particularly large city, it has such a wide variety of things to do in your free time. Below are a few of my favorites so far.
Exploring the city center
Leipzig’s city center is one of my favorite places to spend time. It is full of historical buildings, but also has some more modern architecture throughout, as well as lots of stores to go shopping and look around. There is also such a wide variety of stores – from antique shops to stores like H&M, I feel like there is something for almost everyone. While I’ve been here, I have also seen some of the festivals, like Bachfest (a music festival showcasing music by Bach) and the Frauen (women’s) festival, both of which I hadn’t even heard about until I got here. This is definitely one of the more crowded parts of the city, but it has been one of my favorites.
Biking around the city
While in Leipzig, many of the Temple students and I decided to rent bikes, and one of my favorite things has been to ride my bike around the city. Leipzig is a very bikeable city – there are bike lanes almost everywhere, it is a relatively flat landscape, and there are so many parks with paths to get to. Biking is a great opportunity when the weather is nice and or when you need to get somewhere fast. I have found that biking allows me to see some of the most beautiful scenes and is an experience that I think is really special.
Stumbling upon Leipzig’s parks and lakes
I have also enjoyed lots of the nature that Leipzig has to offer. There are many parks in the area, and some that are very close to my apartment. It is so calming to go for a walk or bike ride through them, or to be able to find an open area and read a book or do homework. Not only are there parks, but also there are lakes that many people here like to go swimming in. My friends and I had gone to one referred to as “Cossi” and it was so different from the beaches I was used to back home. Overall, I noticed it was much cleaner and it was beautiful to just enjoy looking out into the lake and being able to hang out with my friends. One of the things that really makes these places so special is that we usually come across them “by accident,” like biking through them to get to a specific destination. It is usually without a plan that we have been introduced to so many new places!
Visiting local cafes
In addition, something that my friends and I enjoy has been going to the bakeries and cafes in the area. There is one on the way to the tram stop to get to school, one that is right by our school, and many more throughout Leipzig. We often go to them after school to meet up and get “Kaffee und Kuchen” (coffee and cake) to have different check-ins with our professor. Many of these bakeries and cafes are so relaxing and they are great places to hang out. The latest café some of us tried was one near the apartment that has plants all around, some of which you can buy. Others are simpler, with tables outside along the road or inside the café.
From riding bikes through a beautiful park along the river to get to class to stumbling upon local cafes and shops throughout the city, lots of my favorite experiences so far have not been planned; and I think that exploring the city has really helped me to focus more on what people who live here do, as opposed to what many tourists might, and I think that is so special. Though it is important to have goals in mind, I have learned how important it is to make sure you are not solely focused on specific things you want to do abroad – it is important to try new things, even if they were not in your original plan. I think it is many of those things that you discover while studying abroad that can create some of the most amazing experiences! To me, this has been one of the most rewarding things I have done while abroad, as I have both worked towards my goals, but also opened myself up to new experiences that have made this experience even more special to me.