Daniel Aikas

Time in the U.S.

Daniel Aikas at the playoffs football game on Oct. 16.

Daniel Aikas at the playoffs football game on Oct. 16.

Alexis Dorsett, JP Student Writer

Exchange student Daniel Aikas is a senior at North Polk High School from Finland.

Aikas is currently living with the Rutledge family in Polk City. His sister, Sara Aikas, previously stayed with the same family two years ago. Their families built a connection when his sister first stayed with them for the 2018-2019 school year.

Since the pandemic happened his parents were hesitant to allow him to leave home and come to the United States for his exchange year, but their connection with the Rutledge family made them feel more comfortable. The Rutledge’s did not see the pandemic as a reason to stop the exchange from happening and knew that they would take any precautions necessary to keep everyone as safe as they can. Aikas’s parents became comfortable allowing him to come to the United States this year and letting Aikas make the decision himself. 

This school year Aikas also made the decision to participate in multiple sports through North Polk High School. He participated in boys cross country and plans on participating in boys basketball this winter and the boys track this spring. Typically he only participates in track in his home country. 

School at North Polk High School is different from Aikas school in Finland. Aikas said “North Polk has shorter lessons [class periods] and more of them. Stricter school times, classes start at one time for everybody. I would say that in Finland we are a little bit further with our school system and learning harder things.” He mentioned he is glad to be able to come to North Polk High School and would not choose a different school if he could because he has been enjoying his time here.

 Although school at North Polk is a lot different than in Finland Aikas has been very grateful for the opportunity to be able to be an exchange student this year during the pandemic. Aikas stated “This has been awesome. I’ve been very grateful about this opportunity to come here.” The exchange program he went through is called STS which Aikas said was a Swedish organization. Sweden did not react to COVID-19 like other countries; such as shutting down and limiting what people are able to do. Aikas and many other students were able to have their exchange year during the pandemic because of the organization they are a part of. 

His time here has been an amazing experience for him, but he does miss home because of family and friends. They have been talking through the phone and before his exchange is over “my parents are planning on coming here to Florida in February. If this pandemic allows them to come. It would be awesome to see them” Aikas stated.