Chris is now licensed to drive in the state of Arizona. This was a bit of nerve wracking process for him. He is an excellent driver, but the list of nations that have agreements that allow their citizens to just come to the US, hand over their foreign license and get a local one are very few. Germany is one of them; Britain happens to not be. As a result, Chris had to take the entire test all over again as an adult. Needless to say, he was pretty nervous at the prospect of doing this, especially once he found out that you can only fail 3 times and then have to wait a whole year to do the test again. He even signed up for a one off driving lesson just to have an American instructor give him a few pointers and tell him whether he was ready for the test.
He had to take both a written and practical test, but the one advantage of already being licensed in another country is that he didn’t have to prove he’d driven 10 hours or have a permit for any amount of time. He was allowed to pass the written test one day and schedule the driving test for the very next day.
He actually found the written test much harder than the practical test. This is mainly down to two things. There are many linguistic traps, things he can describe perfectly well in British English, that are entirely different in American English. The second thing is that it asks for many very specific numbers. Most adult drivers know not to park too close to a fire hydrant, but they may not know that the exact number of feet one may park from one is 15. These were just things that needed memorizing. I actually made a few Memrise courses to help him with this. If anyone cares, they are publicly available here along with some language learning courses I’ve made myself.
In the end, he passed the written test on his second go. The first time when we went in just to find out what we needed to do, they suggested he give it a try before telling him about the whole three strikes and you’re out until next year business. As a result, he failed because he hadn’t studied at all. On the second pass, he succeeded though only with the minimum 80%, in part because they gave him one of the questions he got wrong twice and he got it wrong both times (it was about the fine for extreme drunk driving, something he surely won’t be dealing with anyway).
He did much better on his practical test. He didn’t get a single point taken off and she only had him drive for about 10 minutes as it was so obvious he knew how to drive.
This was the first in a series of steps that mean we are that much closer to properly being ‘settled’. I think this takes longer than many people realize. Speaking to a friend of mine who has also moved back and forth across the Atlantic a few times, we both agreed it takes about 2 years. I will let you all know if this still holds true on our 2 year anniversary of being in Arizona. 🙂
As a small note, Chris would like you all to know that the official name in the US is not a driver’s license, as most Americans call it, or a driving license as most Brits call it, but a driver license. Check the Arizona MVD if you don’t believe us here.
Here’s the video: