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Foreign exchange program ends early for teen due to coronavirus pandemic

Alla Muliar, 15, had study abroad opportunity end abruptly

SAN ANTONIO – A Ukrainian foreign exchange student who has been studying in Jourdanton for eight months is now headed home early because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Alla Muliar, 15, was chosen out of thousands to participate for the competitive exchange program, and is sad to leave.

Students, teachers head online to get classwork done

Muliar said it was tough when she first started in the program, but that she eventually fit in. She became close to her host family and even found a new boyfriend during the experience.

Muliar’s plans, however, have been cut short. Her program was supposed to end in June, but her parents are worried about the novel coronavirus and now, she’s heading home early.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.

“It’s really, really hard to be far away from your parents,” Muliar said. “My boyfriend and I were supposed to have our 6-month anniversary on the 25th of April and we were supposed to go to prom together.”

She will fly home on Thursday, just a week before her 16th birthday.

“When I was a kid, I watched a Disney movie. It had 16 candles. I don’t remember the name of it, 16 wishes or something. It happened in America. It was my dream to have my birthday in America,” she said.

As for what she will miss most about America?

“Honestly I think it’s going to be the food. I think it’s going to be Subway for sure. I literally want to send an email to Subway and ask them to open in the Ukraine,” she said.

Muliar said she’ll miss Texas, and hopes to come back one day for college.

“For me, American colleges are things you can only see in the movies. I think it’s just such an amazing experience. I love the education here. A lot of students from America, they don’t like school, but I actually enjoy going to school here. I love it.”

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