Thomas’ story sounds like a Netflix series. While Thomas Breslauer was growing up in Columbia, the country hit rock bottom. Not just on account of the drug lords in his home city of Medellín, who bribed politicians and murdered so many people, but also because of the civil war that racked the country. “The military closed off our city; nobody was allowed to leave,” Thomas recalls. The rate of inflation soared to 3000%. But the final straw came for the family when his father’s work colleague was kidnapped for ransom money. In 1998, the family fled to Germany, and Thomas found himself in Altötting, a fiercely Catholic town in Bavaria. “It was a total culture shock,” the 24-year-old laughs. But the family was welcomed with open arms and quickly found new friends. “We built a house, we built ourselves a new life, and we integrated well into society.” It wasn’t until he started school that new challenges presented themselves to Thomas.
If the class sat a dictation test and most students made ten or so mistakes, Thomas would make 40 mistakes. He was finally diagnosed with dyslexia. “It felt like a handicap,” he recalls. Dyslexia is a genetic condition and doesn’t have a cure. But Thomas was determined not to be beaten. Thanks to support from his family, lots of extra help at school and a teacher who fueled his passion for history, Thomas was soon top of the class in history. “Even as a child, I was absolutely fascinated by the subject,” he says with a grin. Accordingly, he chose it as a special focus in his advanced school-leaving exams — and came top of the year, despite his dyslexia. Although he’s officially entitled to extra time during exams and for homework, Thomas has refused to make use of this privilege in his history degree at the LMU. “I want to prove that I can manage without,” he says.