How do you deal with criticism from home?

This week’s Movin’ to Italy Question is one that I have been avoiding to answer for quite some time now: “How do you deal with criticism from people back at home?”. Mamma mia this is the type of question that really throws me for a loop. Che difficile!

In reality, there are two types of difficult Moving to Italy Questions.

The first type is what I like to call “bureaucratic hoop dumping” questions (like last week’s question, “How do I get Italian health insurance?”). Those are difficult to answer because there are just so many rules and procedures, and well, hoops!

Then there is this second type: emotional curveballs questions. You get to Italy, you settle in, everything’s dolce vita lalala and then WHAM! Your emotions are taken for a spin all because a friend in your home country asks you, “So when are you coming back home?”, and you’re like $*%^!  What have I done with my life? Why am I all the way over heeeeere?

And that’s when you open the bottle of wine my friends…

OK so before reach for the wine opener, finish reading this post. Don’t just drown your sorrow in the vino! That’s not healthy and and it won’t help in the long run. There are solutions to deal with these emotional curveballs that so many of us endure.

But first let’s hear from our reader, all the way in Spain!

Hello Sarah!

I loved stumbling across your blog, thank you for all of the info!

I wanted to contact you because, it was so great to see that an American has managed to make a home for herself in Italy…I am currently assistant teaching in Spain, but it is my dream to make a hop back over to Italy.

This past year in Spain has been great, but something doesn’t feel quite right, and I only know now that it’s because I’m not where I most feel at home.

Your site is reassuring to read, but one thing that overwhelms me with planning on a move like that is finances. I am currently supporting myself entirely over here…and it’s totally possible to do, but like you had said in one of your posts, it’s not like a wall street paying job. How do you make this all work? Also, do you ever receive criticism of your decision from you parents? I know this is our lives and our decisions…but one of my parents is extremely unsupportive of my endeavors to stay over here…and that is hard for me to persevere on (although I am going to anyways).

Maybe it would be different if I were in Italy…anyways…just wanted to reach out, thank you for posting!

Overwhelmed in Spain

Good question Spain! While I’m not going to attempt to answer your question about how I survive on a teacher’s salary (I need at least a 3 more blog posts on that subject), I will try my best to shed some light on your emtional curveball question on how to deal with critcism from back at home.

I too have received some not-so-positive feedback from some friends and family members. Don’t get me wrong, my parents have never once told me that I was ruining my life in Italy or anything like that, but I definitely sense their skepticism about the decision I have made (to get an idea of what I’m talking about, just read my most dreaded questions about Italy).

I know they probably worry about my future (again, a teacher’s salary is not exactly a wall street paying job) and my general well-being in a country that is not the almighty US of A! I mean Italy is one of the worst countries in Europe economically speaking and the taxes here are just down right ridiculous. So, I get it. My choice to move to Italy was not exactly the most economically sound one (how did I really major in accounting?), but then again, I didn’t move here to become rich.

Me Sant'Eustachio

I also think about how my decision will affect my relationship with my family in the future. I will certainly have to miss many important events and I may not always be there to take care of friends and family members when they need me. That’s tough. So tough that I’m a really strong supporter of any one looking to event a teleporting machine (if you are, please contact me. I will happily donate all of my blog’s earnings to help you with your research.)

So how’s a girl to deal with all this pressure?

Here’s what helps me:

  • Remind yourself why you’re here. Why did you come to this country in the first place? If you don’t agree with that reason anymore, then is there some other reason why you’re still here? I find that thinking about my motives helps me rationalize my decision and let myself know that there is something to all this.
  • Talk with those who are giving you the negative criticism. Let them know that you’re happy where you are and that maybe a life back at home wouldn’t give you that same happiness. You don’t have to get angry with them, but rather the next time they ask you how things are going, just say “Oh, it’s good, I’m really happy where I am!”.
  • Acknowledge that everyone has a different path in life. Perhaps your choice is the minority, but that’s okay, right? Just because everyone else is doing something, doens’t mean you have to.
  • Be supportive of those back at home and make an effort to show them your love! Go beyond just sharing photos of your experiences on Facebook and actually write them a letter or a really thoughtful email. It’s only 5 minutes out of your day and it could make a world of difference!
  • Make an effort to visit home as often as you can. Obviously, flights from Europe to America are not exactly cheap and it’s not like you can just fly home for a weekend. But try to go home when you can, because you really don’t want to let too many years pass before you see your friends and family. It will help bridge that gap that often grows bigger the longer you’re apart.
  • Welcome them to come and visit you! Even if they can’t afford to make the trip, remind them that you want to see them and share with them your life. (by the way, right now may be the cheapest time to fly from Europe to America).

My mom’s first time EVER in Italy (and Europe) was to visit me 2 years ago. It was so wonderful to be able to share with her my love for Italy.

  • Always have a spare bottle of wine handy…because emotional curveballs require some vino!


Movin’ to Italy FAQ is weekly blog series. Every Friday, I post common questions from readers about movin’ to Italy. All answers are based on my personal experiences and knowledge.


6 comments on “How do you deal with criticism from home?

  1. We initially received lots of criticism taking our son out of school (he has high functioning autism), in fact my cousin was really against the move. It has been the best thing for him and I’m so happy we didn’t listen.

    About five months after we arrived in Italy my Mum was hospitalized and then I found out my sister in law had applied to be her legal guardian (without discussing it with me). I had to fly back to Australia after some heated discussions and was mad that I didn’t get this all in place before we left. If you are leaving elderly parents behind be sure they are protected and that you have power of attorney sorted out with any siblings.

    great article Sarah, xx

    • Thanks Lisa. It has been so helpful to hear from those who have lived abroad much longer than me and who have dealt with difficult problems back at home. I know the future will hold both good and bad events (some of which I will have to miss) but I am optimistic and ready to fight any future battles. :)