Pennsylvania, here I come…

The final potential stumbling block has been removed. Today, I have obtained my student visa for the U.S. Even though Germany is typically not considered to be a member of some axis of evil, getting my doctoral degree was a piece of cake compared to this procedure – at least subjectively.

So now I´m all set to board an airplane which will take me to Philadelphia on September 3, The next morning, it´ll be the first day of “immersion week” for the Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program 2013/201 at University of Pennsylvania. I´m really grateful I have been chosen as one of only 30 individuals who, for ten months, will take a deep dive into Positive Psychology in all of its wonderful facets – guided by some of the most exceptional scholars in the field.

Flagge Pennsylvania

With a little help from…?

Even though I oppose to new age thinking as conveyed by “phenomena” like The Secret etc., sometimes it really does feel like magic when a supposedly unreachable goal suddenly becomes attainable. I learned about the MAPP about a year ago when I read Martin Seligman´s newest book Flourish, where he describes the program and its goals in one of the chapters. I was momentarily intrigued – because back then I was close to finalizing the writing process for my own book “Lizenz zur Zufriedenheit” (License for Satisfaction), which is also by and large based on Positive Psychology. The book contains some 300 references to research papers and popular science books. When I visited the MAPP homepage, I discovered that several of the scholars that I´ve cited most often are actually teaching in that program. I thought to myself: “If I ever go back to university to get another degree, it will have to this one!”


Yet, the University of Pennsylvania belongs to the Ivy League – meaning the graduate programs are not exactly a bargain buy. Having several jobs and a family in Germany also meant I would have to fly to Philadelphia at least ten times and stay in a hotel for a minimum of 40 nights – all in all adding up to a considerable amount money, which, frankly speaking, I could not find anywhere on my savings account back then. But, without going into detail, at the end of 2012, I made an arrangement with my boss at Bertelsmann, Dr. Hays Steilberg, making it all possible. Thank you very much, Hays! I won´t forget.

And just in case the “Law of Attraction” – against all odds – really does work, I would also like to express my gratitude for the inscrutable mechanics of the universe.

California Pennsylvania, here I come…

If you would like to get a short introduction to Positive Psychology, you might want to watch this humorous and insightful TED Talk by “Mr. Positive Psychology” himself, Martin Seligman.