Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I am not a freebie relocation consultant.

Forgive the tone but I am deeply pissed off. One harpy has brought a simmering heap of resentment to a head.

Here is the deal. I am more than happy to answer emails from people looking for more information about home educating in Italy. I did it all by myself, in the dark, all alone and that experience has made me very pro shining a torch on the process.


I have a job, I home educate, I have a household to run and a geriatric, severely mentally ill mother in law to care for which at times can be overwhelming. The last, when a crisis hits, can be so time consuming that the three previous roles end up a bit squashed, meaning their recuperation is my number one priority immediately after things calm down. My bulging inbox is low down the list of priorities when the house is a tip, my son needs my attention in all spheres and my pile of student's homework to mark is towering.


Rule one, have realistic expectations of me. I am not a home education fairy and your wish for information is not my command. There will be times when your wish for info isn't even anywhere close to being my priority. Just like you, I have a life and it can get in the way of my availability to answer questions. You number in the hundreds and I am just one (buzy) woman.

Rule two, like everybody else I get my share of spammy, speculative emails. Given the nature of my blog many of them will have generic "homeschool" or "home educate" subject lines. So if you want information please use "wanna home ed in Italy" in the subject line. I'll set up an email rule, so those emails go into their own folder, immediately separated from the piles of dross, which should eliminate the handful of emails that get buried alive, never to be opened under a pile of crap.

Rule three, of the hundreds of emails I have received a good number seem to think I am a freebie relocation consultant. I am not an American, I am an EU citizen, I haven't been through the process of getting visa's\work permits etc. and answering those questions is basically asking me to do the research that you should do yourself. Ditto claiming citizenship based on a relative having emigrated from Italy. Questions about employment, housing, lifestyle, dietary requirements are also well beyond my brief. Please ask those questions at the expats in Italy forum. I can only deal with the home ed questions, not cos I'm being shitty, but because I simply don't have enough hours in my day to research and respond with a detailed answer to emails where 3\4 of the questions have nothing to do with home ed.

Rule four, if you don't get an answer, first check that you haven't created a need for your email to be put to one side until I have more time to spare because you have asked an avalanche of questions that have nothing to do with HE, chances are if you did, I'll get distracted by life and forget it is lurking in my drafts folder. If it is just HE questions, you may well have written to me at a time when it has all gone bent and I am up to my ears in crisis management. Try sending it again in a week, be patient, send it again if you have to. I'm not ignoring you, I just haven't noticed you because a spitting, hissing, self destructive old woman in full blown mania having florid psychotic episodes is huge competition when it comes to catching my attention.

Rule five, if you throw a hissy fit because I missed your emails (that were 3\4 about relocation issues like visas, work permits etc), and the only communication of yours that I manage to dig out from the pile is the one where you liberally insult me for not doing your bidding on your timescale and attempt to hold ME responsible for the fact that you weren't in a position to take a job because you chose not to pay for time sensitive expert advice, well...your email address will be blocked. Cos life is just too short.

And I would caution against moving to Italy if you are going to get so wound up about missed communications from a voluntary, informal source. Boy, do you ever have massively unrealistic expectations with regards to Italian bureaucracy if you get apoplectic about a few emails slipping through the net. The "vanishingly rare"nature of home education in Italy means you have to have the ability to self direct and the personality that lets you take leaps into the dark. Because there is no huge precedent that goes before you, nor is there a well established network or association to closely support you. You are creating a need for a school to venture into uncharted territory, they probably won't like it, they will probably feed you misinformation, as will many other official or unofficial sources of misinformation. If you can't hold your nose and leap anyway, homeschooling here is probably not going to be within your comfort zone. Expat life in Italy possibly won't be either, in general misinformation is the rule rather than the exception in these parts.

Rule six, everybody else keep on asking what you need clarified. When I can, as far as I can, I'm happy to answer questions. Just bear in mind that I don't sit in front of the computer all day with my tongue hanging out in anticipation of home education related emails and cut some slack if you don't hear from me, because I'm probably dealing with a mentally ill old lady in a system where mental health provision is not seamless by any stretch of the imagination.

Rule seven, I'm not the only point of info on the web, this is great place to start, I know her, she is lovely, her English is perfect, in fact...go there first.

And here I will gather together the most common questions and attempt to answer them so those who need info in a time sensitive manner don't have to hang around waiting for MIL to be well.

Can I home school just in English ?
No. You have to do an Italian curriculum that is approved.

Can I unschool ?
Your child will be tested annually, if you fail two years running you will have your permission to home ed revoked. So yes, you can unschool, BUT only if you are 100% sure that the method will produce the results that the school is looking for in terms of reading, writing (in ITALIAN) and maths at any given age.

Are the rules different for children with SEN ?
Unchartered waters, since I don't know anybody home edding a child with notable SEN here. One school might be completely cool about it, another may kick up a right fuss based on their belief that you cannot possibly have the technical ability to take on their education. Unfortunately it is a question of "suck it and see what happens". You can always dereg from one school and register with another to try the process again if the first school is being difficult.

What if I'm only here for a short time?
Well then you are in luck ( =
The kids are tested annually and they have to fail two years running before your home ed status is at risk. If you are here for a timescale where it really doesn't matter if they pass or not, then once you've gone through the process of sorting out with the school that you are a homeschooler, just home ed as you see fit safe in the knowledge that you will be gone before it is an issue.

Can I home ed under the radar ?
Of course. However you will be running the risk of the police and social services on your doorstep. How much of a risk depends on so many factors like what kind of nieghbours you have, where you live (huge city v small town) and how gung ho the local school director is. Again you have to suck it and see what happens, on the basis that you think your risk factors appear very low and if it all goes bent you feel sure you can sort things out without getting sucked into the legal system. I am absolutely not going to recommend it, on the basis I don't want to get the blame if it all goes horribly wrong.

I need info on visas, work permits, employment, housing, dietary requirements, availability of SEN facilities....
You need to go here.
Unless you are demanding, shouty person who thinks you have a devine right to the info you want, being what you want, when you want it, on a platter in which case I think they'll probably tell you to bog off too.

Oh and to the ridiculous number of people who email me wanting to know if they can just come and stay with me for a few months, on the basis that we both home ed and they fancy a virutally cost free way of living in Italy for a bit,

NO, you cannot stay with me, I don't know you from Adam and the fact that you would ask a total stranger to put you up incidcates to me that I am not going to be your cup of tea.


  1. You have to be kidding???

    There are people demanding all that and then getting grumpy when you don't respond???

    You're a saint for not just deleting the lot

  2. Oh not just grumpy, hurling around words like hypocritical, basically calling me a disgrace to the name of home education and telling me that it is my fault they didn't take a job offered in Italy cos I didn't get back to them.

    I was also sent a copy of the original email and having looked at it I guess it didn't occur to them that if they didn't hear from me they should try the other two high profile sources of info about home ed AND head on over to the expats in Italy forum to get the info on all the living\working\visa info.

    Or pay a relocation consultant given that it was so time sensitive and they were confused by the conflicting info they'd found.

    But no, it is all my fault apparently.

    Ahh fuck it, I think I'll just close the blog, life is too short and enough hassle enough as it is.

    This is not the first time I've had people get shitty with me, usually cos they don't LIKE the info I've given them, cos I can't magic away the roadblock that stand between them and the way they want to home educate in the language of their choosing. Or because they have a deeply complicated family situation and I simply don't have the information that they want.

    But I think it is time for this sort of nasty stuff plonking itself in my inbox to be a thing of the past, cos I've had it up to here (indicates top of head)

  3. Excellent post, Sarah. Tell it like it is!

  4. You go girl!! If people are too lazy to do their own research, then maybe home education isn't right for them anyway!!

  5. I don't think I've ever said hello, and have mostly lurked. But I really enjoy your blog, and have bookmarked a lot of the worksheets, links, and other resources in your past posts. I appreciate you sharing your homeschooling adventures via this blog.

    And with that said, I totally agree with clareybabble! Yeesh. These people are lucky that they have your blog as a resource in the first place, and they are not *entitled* to one darn thing!

  6. Oh my hell - seriously??? Who do some people think they are? I would have totally wrote back and let them know in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS where they could get off. But then, you are far nicer than me....

  7. "But then, you are far nicer than me...."

    Don't count on it.

    I opened my inbox after ten days of full on lurgy and hit the roof.

    (wanders around muttering darkly)

  8. Hey Sarah
    Hit Delete!!!
    Good Riddance...
    You need some really creepy reply for the ones that don't get it and want to come stay...something along the lines of Rocky Horror, maybe with a suitable photo!
    Give em heaps!

  9. I really shouldn't be chuckling because I see you are upset....but man, I can so relate!! I have people email me from my blog all the time regarding relocating to Italy, visas, advice on which camera to buy etc as if I am a free public service. Mostly I give quick answers (referring them to do their own research) or ignore them. You seem to be doing far more than that, and they are STILL annoyed with you? I bet that venting felt good though :)

  10. I agree with all above... delete, delete delete!
    Please don't let a few bad apples chase you away!
    At any rate, I know for a fact that you are much nicer than you are letting on here, those wretched idiots do not deserve anymore of your attention! I can't thank you enough for how helpful you were to me, but... thanks again anyway!

  11. I love this post. The cheek some people have. I could feel your annoyance. I thought you were awfully friendly to put up those answers anyway.

  12. ugh I can only imagine the kind of emails you recieve, I've followed your blog for quite some time ( love the pilgrim posts ) and it astounds me that people could really be THAT rude to someone they have never met? If you would like send them off to me and I will create a few interesting aliasis with random inaccurate information to answer their questions hehe..

    btw when I get emails like that I give quick basic answers ( if I have time ) and offer a "time sensitive " reply rate of 20euro p/h.. ;)

  13. I wouldn't have your patience. I would have just deleted them. I can't believe the nerve some people have. Poor you. Good post though, very well said. And even though not at all relevant to me I read it to the end because it was so interesting!!

  14. You have no obligation to these people, don't feel you do!

  15. I'm sorry to see you've closed your blog, but oh how I hear you on all the points here...some people are not only too lazy to look up information for themselves, but they're also quite rude about it -- both I find hard to forgive. It's one thing if you've done some research and have a few pointed questions, but when I get questions like, "I'd like to apply for dual citizenship through my great-grandfather. Where do I start?" grr.....



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