My name is Thomas Hoffmann and I have been born on November 3rd, 1999 in Neunkirchen/ Germany, a small city of about forty-five thousand inhabitants. My birth was the result of the marriage of my mother, Ania, an artist from Poland, and my father, Bernd, a radiation scientist from Germany. Because of my bilingual upbringing, I am fluent in both German and Polish.
The time I have spent in my place of birth was not very long. I visited the kindergarten close to my house and the local primary school for one and a half years until me and my family moved to the capital of Germany, Berlin, due to my father's job. Berlin became the city of my youth and the place I call home. After moving to the capital I quickly integrated into my new surroundings and started to excel in my studies.
Because of my good academic results, I was able to transfer to a grammar school after my fourth year of primary school. The Johann-Gottfried-Herder-Gymnasium in Berlin/ Lichtenberg specialises in languages, although this doesn't mean that the non-linguistic subjects suffer from this pedagogical focus. Additionally to my two native languages and the English language which I was already good in at that time, I learned Russian and French in grammar school. Although my French is a little rusty and my Russian suffers from my Polish predisposition I manage both languages reasonably well.
Several teachers from my school have been awarded the title of "teacher of the year". Those teachers were mostly teaching political education. This is clearly visible since my school is known for their politically active students. Thanks to both my teachers and my parents I became interested in politics and formed my political opinions.
Nevertheless, once the class system ended after my tenth year of education and I got the ability to choose my courses, I started advancing towards the topic that really interests me: Physics. I chose the advanced courses in Physics and English. Originally I was thinking about choosing the advanced German course, as writing and analysing text is an easy task for me, I decided to go for Physics because I'd rather struggle with something I'm passionate about than to breeze through something I'm already good at.
My grades in English were excellent and my grades in Physics were overall good. Furthermore, I have been awarded the "Herderpreis" (Herder Award) in the category of foreign languages, a biannual award my school grants for exceptional achievements.
I greaduated from grammar school in July 2018 as the second best in my year with an average grade of 1.1. Immediately, I applied for the prestigious Humboldt University in Berlin and got accepted for Physics. Although I struggle much more than I used to, studying Physics in the inspiring environment of the Adlershof campus, where many of the first experiments with manned aviation were executed, is an incredible experience.
My passion for Physics started early, probably thanks to my father introducing me to authors such as Mark Brandis, Arthur C. Clarke and my favourite, Isaac Asimov. I became a huge fan of the Foundation series which continued to inspire my fantasy for years. I became more and more interested in space, which eventually led me to the desire to study Physics and to become an astrophysicist.
Back in school, I also applied for student offices regularly. I was class representative for many years and in my last year of school, I got elected as student council president, the highest office amongst students in my school. I view this as an appreciation of my engagement with the school community over several years. I am most grateful that the student body trusted me with this responsibility. Thanks to the experience I could collect during my exercise of that office during this, and, as the "second in command" in the year prior to my election, I am accustomed to long meetings and discussions with people who, unfortunately, are not always of the same opinion.
Aside from my academic passions, I like to spend my free time with my several hobbies, the most basic of which being gaming.
As a kindergarten child, I once found a Nintendo GameBoy Advanced SP buried under a bit of dirt in a forest. It contained a copy of Pokémon Sapphire. This fateful encounter shaped the course of my life drastically. After cleaning and fixing the portable console I was able to open the window to a world I didn't know existed back then. The game I found in the woods fascinated me from the first moment onwards - the beginning of my passion for video and computer games. Over the course of the following years, I acquired a sizable amount of video and computer games which I have spent several thousand hours with. Thankfully I managed to maintain a healthy balance between studying and playing, some of my friends, who didn't manage to do so, encountered countless obstacles during their education. Thanks to the combination of careful listening during lessons and noting down everything I didn't have to study much at home, which gave me a lot of free time. As a nice side effect of my early gaming and internet exposure, my English skills increased thanks to my prolonged exposure to English games, YouTube videos, podcasts, communities, forums and so on. I also found a lot of friends through computer game voice chats, who I keep in touch with on a daily basis.
Currently, my favourite game is Paradox Interactive's "Stellaris", a grand strategy game on a galactic scale, in which the player takes control over a spacefaring empire. Currently I am approaching the milestone of one thousand hours of playtime in Stellaris.
Internet gamers, such as the most famous German Let's-Player (a person who uploads records of them playing and commenting games onto the internet), Erik "Gronkh" Range, inspired me to learn about video editing. I quickly used my skills for time-consuming school projects and learned to use my newly acquired skills for a broad range of tasks.
Over time my focus shifted from video editing to image manipulation. I had fun creating custom invitations to my birthday parties as a kid and over time my skills improved. Over the course of the last two years, image manipulation became my favourite free-time activity.
Coincidentally I stumbled upon a field of interest which quickly became one of the hobbies I am most passionate about and which led me to a spectrum of other interests: vexillology, the study of flags. Through studying flags and designing my own, fictional flags, I learned a lot about foreign cultures and by chance found a browser game that increased my interest in foreign nations, cultures, politics and diplomacy even more: NationStates, a text-based politics simulator browser game, in which the player takes control over their own, fictional nation. Through this game, I found another community I communicate with every day. The in-game region of Europa, a community heavily focussed on roleplaying, welcomed me with open arms and I began involving myself more and more with that community. I met a lot of new friends from all over the world, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Great Britain, Brazil, the United States, the Philippines and many more places. This daily international communication furthermore increased my interest in politics and foreign cultures. After a few months of high activity, I became an administrator on the forums, guarding community guidelines and preventing the group chats from escalating.
To summarise, I was a good student and engaged actively in shaping the community of my school. I am passionate about both my studies and my hobbies and through a balance of free time and studying I managed to both do well in school and to get familiar with foreign cultures and to diversify my outlook on the world.