An Update on My Adventures in Driving (on the Wrong Side of the Road)

I mentioned a few months back that I began taking driving lessons in hopes that I would be able to pass my UK driving test prior to the baby’s arrival. One would think that switching from driving in the U.S. to the UK would not be that difficult, and I’m sure it isn’t when you are in an automatic. But suddenly, everything is on the opposite side and I’m expected to learn to drive a manual at 31 years of age. Okay, cool.

Here’s the thing…you can actually take the test in an automatic. However (and this is a big however in a country dominated by manual cars), if you take the test in an automatic, you are only qualified to drive an automatic on your own. That is fine and dandy, but Richard’s car is a manual. So, I get that license and I basically am back to still not being able to drive. This meant I definitely needed to take lessons. Lessons not given by my husband.

I’m really happy with the driving instructor I chose and so far I’ve completed 12 hours of lessons with him (with more on the way!). He does push me and challenge me outside of my comfort zone, and he’s always ready to answer any questions I have. He says I am improving and I have to agree. This is evidenced by the fact that I no longer feel the need to take a nap the minute I get home because I am so exhausted from concentrating on the the gears and the parked cars (on the wrong side of the road!) and not turning onto the wrong side of the road and ‘Ah, so many pedals!’

A few weeks back, I asked Richard if I could drive the few miles to our house after we got off of the motorway. (On a provisional license, you cannot drive on the motorway.) He cautiously agreed and let me take the driver’s seat. Much to his surprise, my driving of a manual has drastically improved since the day I got out of the car and attempted to walk home during what would be the last of his attempts to teach me. He later told me that he thinks I’m well on my way to passing my test. Yes!

I’ve come a long way since that first lesson when I was so excited to have driven at 20 mph. Now, I’m frequently driving in 4th gear and have reached speeds over 50 mph when permitted, I’ve reversed around corners, and I don’t need my instructor to tell me what gear I should be in anymore. Sure, I’ve stalled a few times and I’ve over-revved the engine when doing an incline start, but mostly I’m getting the hang of it. It really has been amazing how much confidence I have gained on the road since that first lesson at the end of July.

So, what happens next? Before I can put in for the driving portion of my test, I am required to pass a theory portion which I’ve been studying away for. I feel like I’m 16 all over again with the nervousness and excitement that came with getting my permit and then my license. (Come to think of it, it is really similar to being 16 because I was the youngest of my friends, so I was the last to get my license. All of my friends here drive and I’m back to being the one who they need to pick up if we go anywhere! Haha.) This weekend, I plan to book the date to take the theory test. Things are moving along slowly but surely with the driving and soon I hope to add a bit more freedom and independence to life here by being able to drive.

I can’t wait to be able to take little road trips with the baby once she is here and after I get my license!

11 thoughts on “An Update on My Adventures in Driving (on the Wrong Side of the Road)

  1. Made me smile about the time you got out of the car when your husband was teaching you.My wife did that many times when I was teaching her(we couldnt afford lessons)we persevered and she eventually passed first time.Keep going

  2. Yay, so glad to hear you’re gaining confidence!! I already knew how to drive a manual, plus once my car arrived it was easier since I was already familiar with it! But we had a rental entry-model Peugot for the first few weeks and my biggest issue was that it didn’t have any power to get up hills- so I felt like I was a learner all over again!
    I took the theory test one week after arriving in GB and I passed, so you should be fine! Do you have to do the computer hazard awareness test, or whatever it’s called? That one was trickier!

    • The hills here definitely add an interesting element to the learning experience! My instructor is always telling me to get much more power than I would expect before I shift. I do have to take the hazard awareness test, but I have a DVD to study for it which should help. I’m glad to hear you easily passed the theory part!

  3. Aw you’re ok. I failed the UK test twice, and as I was moving to the US anyway I just sat my test over here in PA, which, weirdly to me, now means I can drive (manual or automatic) when I’m visiting the UK! Driving stick shift is a great skill to have, and you’ll be able to brag about it soon enough!

    I’m off to test drive some cars today and hopefully soon enough I’ll own my first car. Which, at 28, is a pretty big deal.

    • Isn’t it so funny how the driving license regulations differ so much between our two countries?! I am definitely glad I am learning to drive the manual, but I am happy that we are going to get an automatic as our second car. Haha! 🙂 Well done on passing your US test!

      Did you get a car? If so, congratulations! That is a major deal! Doesn’t it make you feel more grown up?

  4. Wow, this sounds complicated! Driving a manual really is more fun though, once you get the hang of it. I insisted on manuals for my first few cars just for that reason. It wasn’t until after college and settling down that I finally got an automatic, they are so boring! Best of luck, I know you’ll do great!

    • I am starting to enjoy it a bit more now, but I find I am extremely hard on myself when I screw up or stall because I should know how to drive! You know? I’m glad I am learning though, even if we are just going to buy an automatic for me. Richard drives a manual, so it will be good to be able to drive that when needed!

  5. It’s not the “wrong” side of the road, just the “other” side of the road. Just think “Alice through the looking glass” – everything is mirror-imaged with respect to all those other countries where they drive on the right. Having the driver’s seat on the right hand side helps of course. It’s harder to drive on the left hand side of the road when you’re sitting on the left had side of the car (and similar for UK drivers who take their cars across to the European continent).

    Good luck. I’m sure you’ll pass your test just fine!

  6. Pingback: Conquering the Art of Driving in the UK | As a Yank in Yorkshire

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