Torrey Pines High School senior heading to Germany for scholarship exchange program

TPHS senior Albert Jen
TPHS senior Albert Jen
(Emily Suh)

Torrey Pines High School student Albert Jen is one of 250 high schoolers from around the country who received a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Scholarship, which allows him to spend his senior year in Germany.

“I wanted to pursue this scholarship because of my two most prominent hobbies: cycling and also cars,” said Jen, 17, who will be abroad from August to next June. “I knew that Germany was the place for me just because of their love for cycling and also how bike-friendly it is.”

Jen will attend classes at a German high school and live with a host family as part of the program, which has served more than 27,000 students since it was established in 1983. Students from Germany will be coming to America to live with host families here.

The students will also have an opportunity to meet with members of Congress and the German Bundestag, which is the country’s federal parliament.

“I think spending a year traveling and taking my road bike with me to Germany and experiencing firsthand what the difference is between cycling here in Del Mar, San Diego versus cycling in Berlin in Germany, my hometown over there,” he said. “And I’ll be able to really know what I’m talking about.”

Jen added that he thinks the experience of acclimating to Germany will be similar to when he transitioned from a small, private middle school to Torrey Pines High School.

“I learned a lot becoming a person who didn’t know anybody into branching out and joining different clubs, joining different groups within the high school campus and getting to know as many people as I can,” he said. “That was a challenge in and of itself, but I felt like after three years I want to do that challenge one more time, except this time not only with a familiarity barrier where I don’t know anyone, but I also want to do it with a language barrier, where I obviously won’t be speaking my first or even second language at this German high school.”

Jen has been learning German with the Duolingo app, and by conversing with teachers at Torrey Pines who speak German.

“After talking to my host family and also just researching a ton about it in preparation for the application for the scholarship, this is when I learned a lot about their love for cars, their love for cyclists and how I could explore those two passions in Germany,” he said.