Emily Hurley
Pleasant Hill, Iowa
Emily Hurley

Eye-opening experience

Having had sisters attend Northwestern, Emily was very familiar with the college and the great experiences they had here. She fell in love with the NWC community during her college search and felt wanted. An exercise science major who seeks to pursue a doctorate in physical therapy, she has earned all-conference honorable mention and NAIA Scholar-Athlete recognition in soccer. She studied in Ireland during the spring 2021 semester.

Grand time

Living with two French and one Spaniard led to enriching cultural experiences and lots of good food. We taught each other our languages, traditions and beliefs. Another highlight was practicing soccer with a professional Irish women’s soccer team. Not only was I able to improve in the sport I loved, but I was able to learn about my Irish teammates’ everyday lives and build relationships with them.

Confidence booster

From academics to sports to everyday problem solving, studying in Ireland grew my confidence. The unusual circumstance of studying abroad during a pandemic forced me to not only accept but enjoy challenges and the potential success they offer. Success in these areas have given me confidence going into new challenges here at home.

Global vision

I grew in my appreciation and knowledge of other cultures. Most of my time was spent with other international students from all over the world. Asking them questions and understanding their home life was one of my favorite parts of being in Ireland. Now I understand that the world is much bigger than Iowa or even the U.S., and because of these friends I have made abroad, I have a reason to care and a desire to know about world news.

Seeing the beauty in the struggle

The university culture I was in did not value Christ or Christianity, and I was unable to attend church in-person because of COVID. This led to a lack of Christian community, which was hard for me. However, because of the culture I was in, my lifestyle stuck out in many ways. These differences led to conversations and questions with friends that hopefully planted some seeds and made them think more deeply. My faith was challenged, but one thing that did encourage and strengthen my faith was the diversity and beauty of the environment and the people around me. The things I saw in the Emerald Isle were breathtaking, but the people I explored it with were definitely more beautiful.