This week I took the test for theory [in other words, the written exam] which is part one of a two-part process in getting a driver’s license here in the Netherlands. I studied a lot over the last week and even through our annual family weekend retreat. Fortunately, I was able to take the exam in English. Unfortunately the study book that I possess reads like the weirdest English I’ve ever encountered. It was clear by the end of the weekend and a few “discussions” with my husband, who would understand things clearly, that the translator of this book was not a native English speaker. Their training was definitely in British English which is okay but sometimes words were hard to figure out like “verge” meaning the grassy part of the side of the road. No not the shoulder because they did refer to that quite often. It took awhile but I finally got things down and figure out when you should use your break and when to let up on the gas. In the US most people drive automatic vehicles so most of the time you would use your break to slow down. Or maybe its just a bad habit I have. In any case, what I would think is not an urgent break they would see differently. And that brings me to how almost everything here, at times, feels like bizarro land to me. When walking down the street I would step right to get out of someone’s way, while they go left. Ahhhh! Now I’ve adjusted that behavior pattern (only failing once in a great while) but driving, well I see that is going to be a whole OTHER beast.
I’ve been driving for, uh, 24 years [with the last four I’ve been only behind the handlebars of a bike]. I’ve lived in a lot places; Lansing, MI, Chicago, IL, and DC Metro area/Arlington, VA with that driving license. The last being the most challenging traffic to date. They had traffic jams on a Saturday afternoon OR when there was sun! No lie, they call it SUN delays and its due to the fact that there is a circle highway – aka The Beltway. Even an inch of snow can slow this population down. So I think I have earned my road warrior badge. Then one day a few years back, I took a practice drive with a local company here in town. My instructor had just quit smoking three days prior and decided to have a light conversation about American politics and the effects it has on his country. There were bikes, people, trams… OH MY! I drove like I always would. All the while listening to this guy go on about the finer things in his country and adversely the not so great points about mine. He clearly needed a smoke break. In the end he said I am comfortable in the car but didn’t check my mirrors enough, blah blah blah. I need 10 lessons minimum. At 50 euros a pop! WHOOOOA! If this was the only cost in this process I guess it would be okay? This, however, is only the beginning in a succession of many costs to get a driver’s license. So I’ve put it off because I never had a job that I couldn’t get to via public transportation nor an appointment in town where my trusty bike couldn’t take me. It was just not necessary. Now, well, having a child changes the landscape on that. If I need to get somewhere fast it just isn’t going to be enough by bike, bus, or foot.
I got the results of my exam. Unfortunately I missed passing it by a mere 3 points. I will be taking it again next month. At the end of this week I have a scheduled “proefles” or another test drive. I hope I don’t get another politicking ex-smoker! Once I pass the written I will able to proceed onto driving lessons before I can take the driving test. Which, I must add, I never had to do in my home state of Michigan. They weren’t required (back then)! I believe these next few months of re-learning to drive will be excruciating at times but also very liberating. I can’t wait to ride the highways again!
- International Driving License Egyptian Style!! (ginainani.wordpress.com)
- American Versus British English For Dummies [INFOGRAPHIC] (valuewalk.com)