Sarah Mikutel: The Unexpected Path to an Italian Citizenship
Sarah Mikutel is an American podcast launch consultant living in the U.K. and founder of the online course Podcast Launch Academy. She also hosts Podcasting Step by Step and the Postcard Academy, an award-winning podcast focused on travel and location independence. Sarah loves working with fellow expats who's passion for podcasting can be used to promote online businesses that support a freedom-based life.
Transcripts are automatically generated and may not be an 100% accurate transcription.
Nicole (Host): Welcome to the moving roadmap podcast powered by Ave. My name is Nicole, and I'll be your host for the show. In this episode, we're excited to introduce our guest, Sarah Mikutel, who is an American podcast launch consultant living in the UK, and is the founder of the online course podcast launch Academy. She also hosts podcasting step by step and the postcard Academy and award winning podcast focused on travel and location independence. Sarah loves working with fellow experts whose passion for podcasting can be used to promote online businesses that support a freedom based lifestyle. Welcome to the show, Sarah.
Sarah Mikutel:Thank you for having me.
Nicole (Host): Absolutely. So an American living in the UK, where in the US are you from?
Sarah Mikutel:I was born in Connecticut. And then I spent most of my, like adult years when I was still in the states in Boston and New York. And you know, Europe was calling and I figured, where else do you go after New York. So I headed to London.
Nicole (Host): I love that that's actually similar to my story where I was in New York when once you live in New York, I don't know what it is. But it's like, Okay, see, and meet all these people from different cultures. Like now I need more, right?
Sarah Mikutel:Yeah, exactly.
Nicole (Host): So when did you know you wanted to move abroad? Like when did you have your first abroad experience?
Sarah Mikutel:So I first moved abroad, when I was 18, I spent a summer in England Lake District and had the hardest job of my life, I was a chambermaid at a hotel. And it was just lots of exhausting backbreaking work. So the girls would get up really early, serve all of the breakfast, clean everything up. And then we would go and clean up all the hotel rooms. So it was really, really tough. But still, I don't think I've ever lived in a more beautiful place. And it was my first introduction to pub culture. And I just felt like I was living in a Fairyland. And so even though the work was tough, I loved it. And I went to London for the first time went up to Scotland. And just I'd like to go to England so much that I went back and studied abroad, in college just for a semester. And I always wanted to go back to Europe. But when you're not a student, it's not as easy to live abroad. So many years passed before I figured out how I could come back here.
Nicole (Host): I completely understand because you know, when you're in a study abroad program, they offer more support, there's more of a guidance and structure to Okay, here's what you need to do. To move abroad. But yeah, when you're on your own completely different ballgame.
Sarah Mikutel:Yeah, just the visa situation and all of that, it seems it can seem impossible, I guess, if you don't have help like you guys.
Nicole (Host): Absolutely. So how long would you say it took you to feel ready to move abroad? You said there was like, a few years. But when did you say like okay, you know, you want to move abroad, you want it to go back to the UK? How long did it take you to to get ready?
Sarah Mikutel:I always knew, like for me, if I could have moved the next day. The only reason I wasn't living in Europe was because I just couldn't figure out how to do it visa wise, because when I was working at that hotel when I was 18. Back then I don't know if it still exists. But there was something called the blue card where students go over and do like manual labor to save jobs. And and then when I was a student, I was a student. And it wasn't until quite a few years later, when I was living in New York that I figured out that because of my Italian ancestry, I might be eligible for European Union citizenship. And so that's when I started to go down that route and found somebody online who was telling me what documents I needed. She was a translator, so she was helping to translate my documents. And so for me, like there was never any hesitation. It was just figuring out how to make app and
Nicole (Host): I love that. So I'm guessing that's the way that you were able to move to the UK right through the Italian ancestry.
Sarah Mikutel:That's right, I am Italian now officially I've got the Italian passport. Unfortunately, the UK left the European Union and so everything's a little bit fuzzy right now. But yeah, that's how I ended up moving to the UK. So I lived in Italy for a while and I moved to the UK in 2011.
Nicole (Host): Wow. Okay, so you definitely like came across the gems, obviously, because not everybody has that ancestry to be able to get that ticket into a new life almost got very lucky.
Sarah Mikutel:Yeah, I very lucky.
Nicole (Host): They very cool. And so after you figured out, you know, you had this tie to Italy and you're able to move abroad, you know, walk us through some of the steps you took process. And just you mentioned you lived in Italy. So what was that? Like? What were those steps that got you to Europe?
Sarah Mikutel:Yeah, so my story is a bit unusual in that. So I mentioned that I found that translator who was helping me. So if you apply for Italian citizenship through your ancestry, you've to get together a bunch of different documents in your family. So birth certificates, death certificates, all sorts of things going back to your ancestors who moved to the states or to wherever they move to. And so I and of course, relatives like 100 or so years ago, I came in through Ellis Island, a lot of times, their names were changed a little bit, or like people were, like, kind of careless, who are working. So there was a lot of misspellings. So you have to have all of the misspellings corrected, and then apostilled, and all of this stuff, and then you can still be denied by the consulate of where you're living the Italian consulate. One name has I and the other one has, O, like, and you know, it's the right name, but they're like, nope. So the translator I found online said, You know, I applied to the New York consulate as well, when I was like, in New York, and they were so tough, and they rejected me. And now it takes years if you apply for those concepts, the consulate in like the country you're living in, so she's like, she recommended to me just move to Italy, you know, submit your paperwork there. And she told me, that's what she did. And she had her passport within a month. And so I was like, Alright, stranger on the internet. I think I'll follow your advice. And so I packed up everything, and moved to Italy. And I had my passport in a few months. Amazing. And it's funny how almost, you'd think it would be the opposite case. Right? Like, yeah, you know, what some stereotypes may be, as far as, you know, going through all the paperwork, but actually ended up being would have been much longer and New York versus in Italy. Great advice from a random stranger on the internet. Yeah, Italy's famous for its bureaucracy, right. And I can't guarantee that every town would be as easy. But where I went, it was like a very efficient town. I loved it. Beautiful, like a historical center. Who doesn't love living in Italy for a while? Um, yeah, it just worked out.
Nicole (Host): So tell me Okay, so you moved to Italy? How long were you in Italy?
Sarah Mikutel:A little bit less than a year, I think maybe it was there 10 months.
Nicole (Host): But you had your heart set on going back to the UK?
Sarah Mikutel:I did. Yeah. And in fact, I thought I was just going to, like, get my Italian passport, and then be on my way, and I had my passport within two months, and it probably would have been even faster if I had picked up my phone. Because, you know, they don't just give it to you, when you go to Italy, you have to like, get residency there. And then do all like you do that there is paperwork involved over there, as well. And that you somebody comes and has like a formal interview with you at your residence and find out why you want a citizenship, and just make sure that you're legit. And my Italian was not that good. At the time, it's always afraid to pick up the phone. And so they were trying to get in touch with me to make that appointment for that house visit. So if I actually picked up my phone earlier, I probably would have the passport earlier. But anyway, my original plan was I was just going to grab my passport and then jet off to the UK. But I loved living in Italy so much. And it wasn't my first time living in Italy, I had like lived there on and off, like two months here two months there. But I just met such great friends that I stayed longer. And then when I needed to actually start working, that's headed off to the UK.
Nicole (Host): Okay, gotcha. That's so amazing, you know, you were able to have that experience in Italy, longer than, you know, two months to to experience the life there, and especially having your ancestry, your family line from there as well. Yeah, and you can get a special visa if you are going over there to apply for citizenship through ancestry. Because, you know, normally, Americans have a limitation of how long they can stay in a certain place. But if you're going through this process, you can get like a special, you know, admittance to stay longer. Very good tip. And kind of going back, you know, like with the getting the Italian ancestry, because we may have some listeners that are also considering this route, right. Like some of them may have, you know, family lineage from another country. And how long did it take for you to get the paperwork in place?
Sarah Mikutel:It was 10 years ago at this point, and so it's hard for me to remember, at least a few months, and then just figuring out what the process is about getting the best deals and like what office do you need to go to and because It depends by like the state that you're living in for certain things and all that.
Nicole (Host): Okay? Alright. So for people who are listening, you have to really find to find your own route and see where you're able to find any of those documents. And really interesting to you. But now, like the misspellings that needed to be corrected, though, that's a really interesting thing.
Sarah Mikutel:Oh, yeah. And like thing, the thing is, like, that was like a big thing in the US. But when I went to Italy, I don't remember them caring as much about that. And I didn't need as much paperwork, the naturalization certificate was the big thing. And that is just a very arbitrary work. But if you so my great grandparents are the ones who went to America, and if they hadn't, but they didn't naturalize as citizens until after my grandfather was born. And if they had naturalized beforehand, I would not have been eligible for Italian citizenship. But because my grandfather was born, before they naturalized in the Italian, like country in the eyes of the lineage after my grandfather, we can, we're still considered Italian. And it's just a formal process of getting like the citizen, official citizenship officially recognized. So it's quite arbitrary. It's not really, it's just one of those rules, where if it's in your favor, it's great. But
Nicole (Host): Absolutely. So many quirks. So what were some of the challenging aspects of, you know, planning out your move? And I know you, you were able to find somebody online, who was able to help and translate. But what about now, moving from Italy to the UK? Like, did you come across any challenging aspects? And of course, you live there before. But now, it's a little different, right? What was maybe some challenging aspects you experienced?
Sarah Mikutel:Well, let's see. So this was 10 years ago, and the internet was not as robust in Italy at the time, people didn't use it as much. And there weren't really that many housing sites there. And so I just showed up with like a suitcase, and was connecting to find housing quite easy, or easier than it was I ended up pretty much walking the streets just looking for signs for rooms. And I was staying in a hotel in a nearby town trying to figure this out. And after a few days, it was kind of stressful, because I was like, Oh, my God, what if I can't like find anything because I wanted to be in that specific town. And then I met, like a new friend online doing a meet up of somebody who wanted to do a language exchange. And so we spent a day together, just walking around chatting, and she was helping me like, look for signs. And then at one point, we were at a cafe, and she asked the barman. Do you know anybody? Or like, do you have any rooms open? Or do you know anyone? He was like, Well, I don't, but like, check with that guy who's sitting over there. And that guy ended up being my landlord, because he had, like, a girl was moving out, like that day or something like that. So it just worked out.
Nicole (Host): The stars aligned, it's Yeah. All of these things happen. It's so amazing, right? Like you could be in such a frustrating point. And you're walking the streets, you know, looking for rooms, and every country is so different to with how you find housing and you know what you need in order to find your accommodations. But look at that. Just asking the barman? Yeah, I'm good at finding a room.
Sarah Mikutel:So I ended up doing that. And then another challenge was when I left like the day I was flying to England, there was a transportation strike. So I was like, how am I gonna get out of here? Like I really was not sure if I was gonna be able to make it to the airport or not. Wow. And, oddly, there was a tube strike in the UK the same day. And so like, but I did end up making it to my new flat but my god, that was an arduous journey.
Nicole (Host): Oh, gosh. Crazy how the journey may be hard, but it's rewarding in the end.
Sarah Mikutel:Definitely, for sure.
Nicole (Host): And you know, with those transportation strikes, you just never know. So glad you were able to make it. Um, what were some things that you didn't expect to happen during your move? And I know you shared some challenging things but what about even culturally that you weren't expecting when you arrived in the UK?
Sarah Mikutel:I think I learned Italian better when I was in the UK then when I was in Italy which is really funny. But when I moved to the UK, it took a while to get a job. Rent. Often that's the case, you're not going to get one right away. Because I didn't move for a job, I just moved because I wanted to live there. And so I found my job, just going to different recruiting agencies. So that something that I would recommend if you're moving to a new country, if you want to get your foot in the door, go to recruitment agencies. And then I started doing contract jobs, which is only when I had never done in the US. But in the UK, it's quite common. And it's like quite a lucrative job as well, because that's temporary work, but because you don't have any sort of security, they pay you more. And so you can just work for a few months, and then take off and travel for a few months and then pick up a new contract. So that's what I ended up doing for quite a while. So for me, it ended up working out perfectly. But it took a while It took a while to get that first job. And so on my off time, I just spend time doing conversation exchanges with Italians who were in London. And it was a good way to meet new friends and to improve my Italian and London is such an international city like it's, I feel like it's half Italian. And so that was the that was the surprising, so a lot of my friends here are actually Italian.
Nicole (Host): That is so funny. Love that. And how cool you are able to add the conversation exchanges as part of your experience, and then end up learning Italian better in the UK. So that's so funny. Now, looking back, I know you mentioned you move 10 plus years ago, but what would you have done differently and planning your move?
Sarah Mikutel:If I had to do it all over again, 10 years ago, I probably wouldn't have changed anything because it was just a pretty magical experience. And I met some really great friends who helped me out a lot figuring out like what office I need to go to and giving me rides and was like proper immigrant story. If I could do it again, today, with all of the modern conveniences. I think I definitely would have tried to set up housing in advance because it's just so easy now. And I think that would be the biggest thing, because that just gives you such peace of mind when you know when you have yourself set up. And maybe you don't want to like find your permanent residence before you get there. But just to have that three months sort of comfort buffer, I think would be a good idea.
Nicole (Host): Absolutely. So kind of piggybacking off of that question, like what advice would you have, you know, for some of our listeners that are planning their move abroad? What advice would you give them?
Sarah Mikutel:So I guess, if you are interested in moving abroad, but you aren't sure which country you want to go to? Yeah, I would definitely think about what lifestyle do you want? Like, are you a beach person, a city person? Do you have like an online business and you need to be in the same timezone as certain clients, you know, what's your budget, and then I would also say, think about who you are now and not who you aspire to be because I think there's some people who maybe are living with a very hectic life in a city. And they're like, it'd be so great to be in like a sleepy beach town where the pace is really slow, and then they get there. And they can't stand up because it's like a pace just doesn't match what it is. If you actually know where you're going, then I would just investigate some of the logistics of neighborhoods, that's like really important, but then also, like logistics like is your flat gonna come furnished or not. So in the UK, like I live on my own now, but I spent most of my time here, flat sharing with other people and most of the flats came furnished, which I loved. I loved not being tied down to material things and just being able to sort of rent it. However, some countries like Germany, especially, you have to bring literally everything even like the kitchen sink, like these apartments come bare bones. So take a look at what you're actually going to need.
Nicole (Host): Absolutely, really good advice. And I think also just that piece on self reflection of who you are now, not who you aspire to be because it's really easy to think. Yeah, you know, I really would love to be on the beach like you said, but you're a city person and, and love the the bustle of the city. I think it's really important to do that self reflection to figure out like what lifestyle you want. I'm glad you touched on that because that's really important when deciding where to move. Alright, so I always like to add a tricky question at the end. Where's the best city you visited?
Sarah Mikutel:Well, London will always be probably my favorite city. I've spent quite a lot of time there. I love the culture. The museums are fantastic, and they're for free for anyone who wants to go to so I like I really like those values that there's like a lot of cultural experiences for people Parks are phenomenal. Back in the day, like England had a bad reputation for having like really bland food. But it's such an international city, as I mentioned, you can find whatever you want. And also the gastropubs are fantastic as well. And it's so convenient to like travel to other countries from England. So I love London. Rome is also one of my favorite cities. And I've spent quite a bit of time living there, on and off, especially like at this time of year while we're recording in May. So I'm often in Rome, and may and I just, I love the ancient history, and you can't be Italian food. Perfect. And then I love Sarajevo in Bosnia, I went there for the first time a few years ago. And it's just such a different experience, you feel like you're transported back in time. And it's a city that's been occupied by different cultures for hundreds of years. So you've got Ottoman architecture, you've got like, the Austro-hungarian Empire, like their architecture, and then it was part of Yugoslavia for quite a while. So you have that architecture as well. And I just love the Bosnian people. And if you are kind of one more off the beaten path, place to visit, I guess I would say go to Syria, though.
Nicole (Host): I love it. And I love how you gave the reasons for them, because they're all so different. So great, great options. All right. So how can our listeners find you on social?
Sarah Mikutel:You can find me everywhere at Sarah Mikutel. So that's Sarah Mikutel,
Nicole (Host): Wonderful. So and also, Sarah has various podcasts. So we'll include the links in the description so you can follow along with her journeys, different episodes. And if you're also getting starting on a podcast, she gives us step by step on setting up your podcast. Thanks so much, Sarah, for sharing your journey with us. I'm sure all of our listeners are really excited to learn especially that the part about getting an Italian ancestry and getting a visa and everything for that. For those that are looking at that as an option for their move abroad. Really interesting. So great to highlight that. Thank you so much for being on the show, Sarah.
Sarah Mikutel:This has been so fun. And for anyone who is interested in the Italian stuff on my website: www.postcardacademy.co I have a full guide on how to get Italian citizenship through ancestry.
Nicole (Host): Perfect. Thank you so much, Sarah.
Sarah Mikutel: Thank you