Biggest adjustment?
Germany shares many similarities with the U.S. However, the biggest adjustment I had to make—after the six hour time difference—were my eating habits. A few months before coming to Germany, I decided to become a pescatarian. Those who know or have traveled to Germany can attest to the amount of Schnitzel and Currywurst (sausage) they eat. My place of residence and most restaurants are vegetarian-friendly. So my diet has turned from pescatarian to vegetarian in a matter of few months. I must admit, I’m starting to enjoy this change. 

Favorite class?
Political Theology. The class examined the resemblances shared between politics and religion, and challenged me to look at their similarities more closely. We examined how regimes, monarchies and democracies use religion and religious language to reinforce one’s power through the lenses of Carl Schmitt and Giorgio Agamben. The question I raised weekly at the end of most classes was: Which one influences the other the most?

donnell-story2.jpgFavorite food or meal?
I have enjoyed so many spectacular dishes and food during my time in Munich that it is difficult to name one. My favorite food would have to be the Spinatknödel, dumplings filled with spinach, bread crumbs and cheese. One of my favorite meals took place in a department store called Oberpollinger (think IKEA). My friend and I went to the top floor, where there was an amazing restaurant with a rooftop view of Munich. To this day, I’m not sure which one I enjoyed more: the food or the view and the weather.

donnell-story1.jpgMost memorable moment?
My most memorable moments so far have consisted of making new friends and exploring new places. Recently, a few friends and I visited Paris. It was my first time in France and we had a wonderful time. Visiting the Louvre and Palace of Versailles made me reflect on my first year at Candler sitting in Dr. David Pacini’s History of Reformation course. Opportunities to explore firsthand artistic masterpieces and famous manuscripts we studied in class makes studying in Europe a daily academic encounter.

In addition to Paris, I was also able to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in Wittenberg (now called Lutherstadt). Although I also visited the city in 2016 with a group of students from Candler led by Drs. Steffen Lösel, Jonathan Strom and Karen Scheib, witnessing the gathering of Christian believers from all over the world visiting Germany for the 500th anniversary was awe-inspiring. From both a Christian and academic perspective, it spoke to the heart of a global community that cherishes the history and advancement of religious learning. 

donnell-story3.jpgHow did Candler prepare you to study abroad?
Before coming to Candler, I had very little interest in living in another country for an extended period of time. Traveling has always been one of my favorite hobbies, but after a few weeks, I’m typically ready to return home and back to my regular life. Candler gave me an existential reason to study in another country, a way to look at the theology I’ve learned and live in relation to another worldview. The exposure to so many German theologians, philosophers and ideas piqued my interest in wanting to learn more about these individuals and the lives that led them to certain theological questions. The Office of Student Life and Dean Ellen Echols Purdum also played a major role in providing resources and traveling experts to assist with various aspects of living abroad.

How do you feel studying abroad will impact your life and ministry?
This experience will have one of the greatest impacts on my ministry because it is directly shaping my view of ministry. My work in the classroom along with the relationships I’ve built are all in conversation searching for the presence of God. My journey, alone, has become a soul-searching endeavor. Looking for new ways to reach people and build relationships, and examining different theological orientations. Daily I am confronted by the words of the Psalmist, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord in a foreign land?” I don’t know if there’s a right answer to that question. Now that I’ve lived in Germany for five months, I think I’ve gained a reasonable response: One must always do the Lord’s work in any land. And I think that’s the biggest key to ministry. Do the work!