Living Abroad

Okay Let’s Ride!

During this time of uncertainty, I have been thinking a lot about life before COVID-19 and the things that I thought were overwhelming and stressful at the time. Now they just make me laugh in comparison, so I thought I would share one of them with you in an effort to hopefully bring a smile to your face.

At the end of last year, I achieved a major milestone living in the UK. I passed my UK driving exam and legally learned to drive on the wrong side of the road in a manual car! 

Only 35% of the world’s population drives on the left side of the road. And less than 18% of Americans know how to drive a manual transmission. Once again, really pleased with my life choices.

In order to begin this process, I first had to apply for my provisional license (equivalent to a Learner’s Permit in America). Fortunately, I didn’t have to take a trip to the DMV. But instead participated in a very efficient UK postal process with the Driving Gods that lasted about two months. It took a little longer for me because I’m an immigrant. They needed more information, as well as the promise of my first born child. 

Once I received my provisional license, I had the pleasure of placing these giant L signs (meaning Learner) all over the car. This allows the whole country to know that you are an idiot who can’t drive. Once I was branded with this scarlet letter, I was allowed to drive with a qualified licensed professional next to me (or in my case, my husband).

If you want to test your marriage then you should definitely have your spouse teach you how to drive. Then you should hop on over to IKEA for a few hours in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.

Now I would like to take a moment and explain that I would have never been in this situation if it wasn’t for my father. I completely blame my dad for not continuing my manual driving lessons when I was 14 years-old. I don’t understand why he was so concerned about disturbing the entire neighborhood and I think he could have been a little less selfish about the concern over his car. That moment when he said, “You will never need to know this, let’s just teach you in an automatic car” really came back and bit me in the ass. Thanks Dad.

While I was learning to drive again, I also had to study and take a theory test. You know all those questions about road signs and different types of crosswalks. In the UK there is a Pelican, a Puffin, a Toucan, a Zebra and a Pegasus crosswalk. This didn’t come as much of a surprise to me since Scotland’s national animal is a Unicorn. 

There are about 800 possible questions you have to learn for the UK theory test. But only 50 on the actual test. When the day came, I joined all of the other teenagers in a dingy little room where I received a full body scan for answers up my sleeves, in my pockets and in my ears. You have to get 43 questions correct in order to pass. I got 49. Still pissed about that one.

Once I passed the theory test, I had two years to pass my actual driving exam. Up to this point I have to give Scott credit for teaching me how to handle a clutch and the basics of driving in the UK. But I decided at this stage professional help was necessary.

I would like to note the UK driving test is 5x harder than the US driving test. I know it’s been a few years since I was 16, but I don’t remember it being that intense. If you make one (semi-important) mistake you fail immediately. So the week prior to my exam my instructor tried to reassure me by telling me it was just important to try. I could feel him having doubts in my ability. And I wasn’t really sure why as I had only burst into tears two or three times while trying to get through a roundabout. They are the devil by the way.

After he said that, I sucked it up and pushed through, determined to do my best and pass! And because I enjoy proving people wrong. The day came and I kicked ass driving down roads built to fit only 1.5 cars, nailed those hill starts and showed those roundabouts who was boss.

Now that I have passed my UK driving exam, I do feel more comfortable and confident. However, I would still like to hurt the person who invented the clutch. It’s probably the same person who invented wallpaper. 

I am thankful that John Krasinski has continued with his “Some Good News” content. This episode had a great sports connection that we all need right now. As much fun as watching The Masters (from 2005) with my husband was over the weekend, this made me genuinely happy!


2 thoughts on “Okay Let’s Ride!

  1. What a great post! And thanks also for reminding me of JK’s Good News. We need both of you right now. Keep writing!💙AK

  2. Haha the struggle is very real. I shall be doing all that stuff very soon. I’m terrified. I currently drive an automatic. My husband is still terrified of my driving. I’m terrified of my driving. Florida girl living in south east England. I’m glad I’m not alone.

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