”Theology expands your horizon”

Nivea Schnizler had studied biology and had a Bachelor in linguistics, but couldn’t stop thinking about questions regarding religion and faith. Now she has changed her path in life: instead of working as a translator, she is nearly finished her Master’s in Theology at the University of Gothenburg.

Nivea Schnizler was born in Brazil, and, growing up in a Christian home, she has always been interested in religion.

“I think it started with me debating the Bible with my mom, I loved that. I think people would say that I am very opinionated! I’ve always enjoyed comparing what the pastor in church says with what the Bible says, and listening to different opinions and views, agreeing and disagreeing”, says Nivea Schnizler.

Portrait Nivea Schnizler

Studied biology and linguistics

However, at university she first studied biology and then linguistics. She moved to Germany, started to work with translation and interpretation, got married and had two children. Then her husband got a job at a Bible school outside of Jönköping, and the family moved to Sweden.

“When we moved here we had two small children so I couldn’t work much, but whenever I had time, I took online courses. I took courses in Christian Apologetics, neurology, different languages… I just kept my brain busy!”

"Theology has a lot to offer"

Nivea Schnizler still had a strong interest in religion, as she grew older, she started to think about bigger questions regarding life and society, and the place of theology and religion in them. She realised that she would like to study theology at the university for a longer period in order to understand it more deeply.

“I think that theology has a lot to offer, in terms of approach to life, and even if you are not a Christian or not reading the Bible, it is enriching in so many senses. It just expands your horizon. Theology belongs not only in the Church, it belongs in politics, it belongs in society and in the relationship with the other. It really stretches your brain! And your faith.”

International programme

For her advanced studies, Nivea Schnizler chose the Master of Theology at the University of Gothenburg. She liked that the programme is international, and that it was possible to select some courses yourself.

“The University of Gothenburg gives me a lot of freedom to choose – within a frame – the courses myself. I liked that approach, because then I felt that I could take the courses that I want to read, not the courses that someone had chosen for me.”

"Has changed my perspective of the world"

She has now been studying for three terms, and has only one last term left. Currently she is writing her Master’s thesis.

“I really enjoy the programme! I was actually surprised of how much I enjoyed it, I think that it has also changed my perspective of the world and my relationship with God and with people, in a positive way. It is a lot to read and a lot to learn, and I think I like it because I enjoy learning and seeing other perspectives of things – even if they are not Christian.”

Loves political theology

Nivea Schnizler also says that the studies have ”humbled her views”, by putting questions to some of her assumptions and her thoughts about theology, God and human relationships.

“In many ways I think the programme also has stretched my knowledge, for example of politics. Political theology was new for me and I thought that I wouldn’t like it at all, but I actually loved it!”

Possible to study online

It is possible to take the Master of Theology programme either on campus or online. Because Nivea Schnizler lives in Jönköping in Småland, she chose the online version. She meets the people in her courses via Zoom rather than in a classroom, but she doesn’t think that this has been a problem.

“The quality of the courses is really high, the programme is international which is a good thing, the professors are excellent and the online course is really good. The teachers really try to make it as interactive as possible, so you don’t feel too lonely.”
After finishing her Master’s degree, Nivea Schnizler would like to stay within the university world.

“I feel that academia needs more women! All of my teachers are men, and I feel that I would like to – I don’t know if it’s possible – do my doctorate and then maybe become a professor somewhere. That would be great, if it works!”

Text: Elin Widfeldt