Her family relocated because of her father’s job. Sudemeier’s father is an engineer for Bell and was working with an Italian company building the V22 Osprey military aircraft.
She arrived in Italy halfway through the school year without knowing a word of Italian.
“My parents threw me into an Italian school,” she said. “So it was a sink-or-swim situation with the whole language. It was really, really, really tough for those first 6 months.”
Suedmeier soon found her place at school with other students who relocated from all over the world, she said.
She became immersed in the culture and quickly learned the language, she said.
“There was this one point where me and my mom were staying in a hotel, and I talk in my sleep sometimes,” she said. “And it was probably three months after we moved to Italy, and I was talking in my sleep in Italian.”
Despite having a difficult time adjusting to Italian culture, Suedmeier said it was more of a culture shock coming back to the United States.
“It felt like I was supposed to be coming home to something that was familiar, but it felt like everything had changed beneath my feet,” she said. “And I was a different person at that point. I didn’t feel like I quite fit in anymore.”
She still keeps in touch with her Italian friends and tries to visit them when she can, she said.
She felt like a different person when she returned home because of everything she learned, she said.
“I felt like my mind had been opened,” she said.
– Mario Montalvo