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 isĀ 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!