When Exchange student Jenny French completes her studies at Stockholm University she will be ready to teach Swedish in Finland. Paradoxical, perhaps. "My father was from England and I grew up in the Swedish speaking part of Finland, about an hour east of Helsinki, so Swedish is my mother tongue," explains Jenny. Then too, there was her English grandmother who stimulated Jenny's interest in literature. "When I was a kid," says Jenny "she recorded a children's book on tape for me." There were 14 or 15 tapes and Jenny, always eager to hear more of the story, would ask her mother, "When is the next tape coming?"

With her background, it comes as no surprise that Jenny chose Nordic languages and Scandinavian Comparative Literature as majors. One of her courses this term is Danish. "I've been to Copenhagen," Jenny says. "It's a challenge to understand but I like the language."  She's also taking a course in writing, as well as a Nordic children's literature course. "These courses will help me when I start teaching my own students about language and writing," she adds.

Although Swedish is her first language, Jenny is quick to point out that there are differences in Finnish-Swedish and Swedish-Swedish. "For example, the word semla – in Sweden it's a pastry," Jenny explains, "but in Finland it's a single piece of bread with cheese and ham. Swedes call this a fralla. There are lots of other examples," she says.  It's clear that Jenny's fascination with the differences has led to the subject of her thesis: the complexities of the Swedish word ännu, which means something like yet but is used in a variety of different ways in the two countries.

"University functions have been great for meeting new people," Jenny says.

Although only here for one term Jenny has already made friends with students from around the world.

Her Swedish mentor provides an important connection to Sweden for Jenny. "Their role is to help us with everyday life here," she explains. "But I can also pick his brain about Swedish words," Jenny says, thus bringing the subject back to the reason she came to Stockholm University: the Swedish language and the different ways to use it.

Text and interview: Sarah Hollister