On learning to drive as an adult

For the record? Driving is awesome.

I just had my first driving lesson and I’m really glad I finally got started on that. It’s a lot of fun. I must not be completely hopeless at it, because I was allowed to drive (slowly and awkwardly, and with the instructor keeping close to his shotgun seat pedals at all time, but still), to the drop-off place, over about a kilometer of road used by other vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. At the end of the lesson, the instructor said that while it was clear I wasn’t eighteen anymore and I wasn’t picking it up as fast as a person at that age would, I was doing some things surprisingly well. For the record, steering is going well, gear switching (it’s a manual transmission, because automatics are considered bad for moral fiber on the European continent) about average for a first try, and the pedal work really needs work – and different shoes. The instructor recommended that I took frequent classes, two a week or more, which I agree with. I need to get everything into body memory.

American readers, friends and especially friends of Aggie’s, are often surprised to hear that, at age 36, I can’t drive, but that’s actually pretty normal in the Netherlands. Several other people at the office don’t have a driver’s license, though most of them gave up on the idea after a number of lessons or failed exams – the standards are pretty strict here, and the lessons don’t come cheap (mine is &eur; 38/hour). That is the reason, though, why I want to do it here, rather than in the US – because I’m not eighteen anymore, I want a certified instructor and an exam I can walk away from knowing that I’ve learned what I needed to learn to drive safely. If I get mad manual transmission skillz thrown in, I’m not complaining.

The cost is the one factor that bothers me though. That’s going to have to come out of my savings, or rather, my ability to save in the next few months, or until I’ve got that license. Both my tax refund and the windfall from quitting the studio will take a few months to arrive. So until then, I’ll likely be spending all the money that I would otherwise have have saved up for my emergency fund on those classes. It’ll be worth it in the long run – even in a country where it’s normal not to drive, a driver’s license will make you more marketable, and it’s an often convenient skill to have. But I’m still not happy about that immediate effect. I’d like the money to come from somewhere else. So increasing my income is once again on the agenda.

One reply on “On learning to drive as an adult”

  1. It is always best to learn to drive with an instructor, but not everyone here in the UK thinks the way you do. It is expensive here also, but knowing how to drive is a very useful skill to have even if you don’t need to drive like here in London.

    I wish you all the best with your driving lessons, and hope that you make it to the end and don’t give up when the going gets tough.

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