Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Driving Lessons Part I (of what I hope is a series with not very many parts)

The day I turned 16 was the greatest day of my youth. I went to the DPS to get my license on the morning of my birthday and ever since have thoroughly enjoyed the freedom of being able to drive. Until I moved to England. The first few months of my life here were wrought with traumatizing near death experiences as I learned to drive a manual for the first time on the other side of the car on the other side of the road. And because we live where we do, this often occured on tiny one lane roads surrounded by hedges and blind turns where I suddenly found myself nose to nose with a tractor and had to back up up hill for 3 miles until there was a place wide enough to pass. Needless to say, I often broke down (in the mental sense) and Sam had to take over as I cried and shouted obsenities to no one in particular and cursed my bad luck for falling in love with an adorable English boy.

Because of some strange law in this country, a foreigner is able to drive on their previous license from their mother land for 12 months. By the time those 12 months are up you are expected to have taken and passed a theory test, hazard perception test and a practical test. If you fail to take these tests, or fail the tests themselves, you are demoted to the status of a 17 year old (15 to those of you in the States) which is the age at which you may obtain your provisional license. All that to say, I am now in the process of learning how to drive. I never expected, at the age of 26, to be taking my very first driving lessons with an instructor. And if I don't pass all of this nonsense I will be on a provisional license and wont be able to drive by myself for 6 months. Hahaha. All I can really do is laugh about this because it's too terrible to bear otherwise.

I'll be honest with you, I'm not too worried about the theory test. Having 11 years of driving experience, and 7 months of experience driving here, I pretty much get what you're supposed to do. If a granny is crossing the road you slow down and/or stop. You go the speed limit. You check your mirrors. Duh. It's just the bizarre wording here that scares me. I need to know the difference between zebra, pelican, toucan and puffin crossings--what's the deal with all these references to exotic wildlife in a country where the most exciting native animal is the hedgehog? There are about 1 billion signs to memorize, but again, no big deal, I can do that. It's the actual driving test that I'm worried about. I can't yet say that I'm an expert with a stick shift--but put me in an automatic and I can multitask like no other. I drive about an hour and a half each day to work and back, but I still get nervous at some busier roundabouts and my hill starts could more appropriately be called hill stalls. It's not that bad actually, I'm giving myself a hard time here, but it really is nerve wracking and more than a little shameful that I am once again among the ranks of high school students even though I have never been in an accident or caught speeding in my life.

So it begins tomorrow. My first driving lesson is at 12:30 during my lunch break... wish me luck.


  1. Oh man, if I was you, I'd probably just give up driving. All three of those situations would make me so anxious! Good luck girl! You got this!

  2. I like how you said "caught speeding"

  3. Bethany, you crack me up! I feel for ya girl. You amaze me that you were even willing to try so quickly. I watched for 6 months in Guatemala before I was will ing to try and that was driving on the "right" side of the road and the "right" side of the car. I know you'll do great!!!

  4. Oh, oh, oh, I can so relate. Ask Randy about the two mirrors, one front left tire, and the old man I nearly took out who was crossing IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET (granted it was a zebra crossing) right after I successfully negotiated a roundabout.