Conversations on Studying Abroad

Life Lessons From My 8 Weeks in Barcelona

May 7, 2020 9:24:00 AM / by Nina Vrtjak

Nina shares what she learned about life and culture in Barcelona, and what aspects of Spanish culture she is taking home with her. Read more to find out Nina's reflection on the Spanish lifestyle and her time abroad.

Spending 8 weeks in Barcelona opened my eyes to the way of life on the European continent. I grew up 30 minutes outside of Chicago, IL, and went on to study business in the small but mighty city of Minneapolis. I have always been a young woman on the move with hustle and bustle around me. My thoughts are always racing and my mouth is often moving faster than those thoughts. I realized my lifestyle was not a perfect fit in Spain, or Europe for that matter, as I quickly noticed everyone was more laid back than I was used to. As I had mentioned in one of my first blogs, the concept of time is not approached in the same way. Deadlines are loose and people take their time. This was a concept that I did not realize I needed to learn. Because my life feels like it is always  “go go go,” I sometimes forget to appreciate what is around me.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Spring 2020_Barcelona_Nina Vrtjak_Kiss of FreedomThe Kiss of Freedom.

The Spanish lifestyle really taught me to slow down in many aspects of my life and not take things so seriously. Doing so will allow me to appreciate what I have. A rule of thumb I had in Spain was to always walk if my destination was under 30 minutes away. If it was over 30 minutes, I would still walk if there was only a 10-minute difference using public transportation. This little vow to myself forced me to take in my surroundings instead of spending another 25 minutes with my eyes glued to my phone screen. I was able to feel comfortable navigating myself around the city and started noticing small details like where the Basar Orients were located. I am sure I want to bring this method back to campus with me in the fall. While the Minnesota winters will not be as enjoyable as the cool Barcelona air, I know I will still be appreciative to pay homage to a city that holds a special place in my heart.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Spring 2020_Barcelona_Nina Vrtjak_Nina & Friends at the Bunkers

CAPAStudyAbroad_Spring 2020_Barcelona_Nina Vrtjak_Green Space in Park GuellGreen space in Park Guell.

As for the future, my time in Barcelona has made me question what I thought was my 5 year plan. Due to the fact that my time was cut in half, I feel there is so much more to learn and experience on the other side of the world. While it may not be realistic for me to live there again, I truly hope I have another chance to spend an extended period of time in Europe. Maybe after I graduate I will take some time and finish what I started. It was quite refreshing to have a laissez-faire lifestyle and it is something I will never forget. I feel many Americans can learn from Europeans: walk more, slow down, socialize with wine often!

CAPAStudyAbroad_Spring 2020_Barcelona_Nina Vrtjak_Street Art Barcelona


Thanks, Nina!

Nina Vrtjak


Nina Vrtjak is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2020, sharing her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. An Accounting and Human Resources major at University of Minnesota Twin Cities, she is studying abroad in Barcelona this semester.

Nina's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

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Topics: Barcelona, Spain, Why Study Abroad