Alessandra Korolyuk: “The best year of my life”


Tess Hubbard

Alessandra Korolyuk is an exchange student at KHS from the Italian city of Pavia, thirty minutes from Milan by bus.

Do you speak three languages?

Didn’t think so.

Italian from the only place she’s ever lived. Ukrainian from her parents, who were raised there. And English, from the TV.

That’s how Alessandra Korolyuk became trilingual.

Korolyuk has lived her whole life in Italy, but was raised by her Ukrainian parents. She speaks a mix of Italian and Ukrainian at home, and started learning the basics of English in school when she was 6 years old. Korolyuk said she learned more English by watching American and British television shows.

Korolyuk is from the Italian city of Pavia, which sits at a population of 72,000. Pavia is only 30 minutes from Milan by bus, which is the route Korolyuk took to catch her flight at Milan Malpensa International Airport. It took her 24 hours to reach the house of Jack Miller, senior, whose family is hosting her. She is KHS’ first exchange student since the COVID-19 pandemic and is staying for the entirety of the KHS school year. Korolyuk will return to Pavia a few days after school lets out for the summer.

I want to be open-minded and I [want to] be more independent. [I chose to come to America] because it’s such a different country.

— Alessandra Korolyuk

Korolyuk said becoming an exchange student in Italy is quite common. She said her parents were supportive and believed it would help her in the future.

“I wanted to become an exchange student because I want to learn the culture,” Korolyuk said. “I want to be open-minded and I [want to] be more independent. [I chose to come to America] because it’s such a different country.”

Korolyuk loves football, the European kind, although she did say Friday night lights at KHS was one of her favorite “America experiences” so far. In addition to soccer, she said she loves photography and traveling. Korolyuk said this love for travel means she doesn’t plan on immediately jumping into her career.

“For now, I don’t think [I’m going to college right after high school],” Korolyuk said. “I want to take a break from school and I want to travel so badly.”

Obviously I miss my parents, but I’m ready for the best year of my life

— Alessandra Korolyuk

In Pavia, students choose their profession as they become teenagers so they can attend specialized high schools catered towards their chosen field. Korolyuk is studying to be a graphic designer, and is attending the high school for art and design in Pavia, Luigi Cossa. During her first semester at KHS, she said she’s studying a wider array of topics than at home, but her second semester will be more art and design-heavy, like her high school in Italy. Luigi Cossa sits at around 600 students, much smaller than KHS’ 1,800.

“In Italy, it’s the teachers that change classes,” Korolyuk said. “I think it’s kind of difficult here because every hour you change classes and you don’t [stay with] the same group of friends [all day].”

But even with that transition, she said the most difficult part about life in the U.S. has been adjusting to jet lag.

“Italy is seven hours ahead of the U.S.” Korolyuk said. “Jet lag was the hardest transition from Italy to the U.S. Obviously I miss my parents, but I’m ready for the best year of my life. Americans are more open and friendly. People in Italy are too, but I think here, it’s more so.”