After hours and hours of doing driving lessons, I am happy to say that I already got my full license! However, getting it had not been a flawless process as there had been some bumps along the way. And the bumps are what I’m going to share with you today.
I started taking driving lessons when I was still in Sydney. I did not have any work yet back then and I was still job-hunting. Commuting was still convenient for me as it was miles-apart better compared to my commute experience back in the Philippines. What prompted me to take lessons that early though is the fact that it had been brought up during a phone interview by one of my interviewers. She was interviewing me for an engineering position.
Interviewer: Do you have any local experience?
Me: Not yet since I just got here in Australia two weeks ago. But I was a Process Engineer back in my home country and I have a lot of engineering experience under my sleeve.
Interviewer: Do you have a car and a driver’s license?
Me: No, but I am willing to commute everyday. Is the place reachable by public transport?
Interviewer: It will be hard for you to reach. Our client needed someone who has has a car and can drive since their production sites are far from the city center. You’ll expect another call from me if you progress in the interview process.
Of course she did not call back. But that’s when I realized that if they can easily turn me down without me having a full license and not having a car, I had to close that gap the soonest so that we can already go past that and focus instead on what’s more important: my skills and what I have to offer. ♥
I was able to find a Filipino driving instructor when I was in Sydney. His name is Ron. I can still remember the first time that I drove a right-hand car. It felt very awkward to sit at the right side of the vehicle and drive on the left side of the road. When Ron first asked me to turn left, I pushed the wipers instead of activating the indicator! It was embarrassing! Slowly but surely though I overcame it and progressed in my driving. We drove around the suburbs first, then moved on to driving in highways. Before I knew it I was already driving in freeways and expressways. The lessons cost me $45/hr but since I was not doing anything yet that time and I wanted to get my license the soonest, I would normally book 2-hour lessons with him. Add to this fact that I hadn’t had that much driving experience back in the Philippines.
I was using my overseas drivers license then. In Sydney, Australian temporary residents can use their overseas license during the whole length of their stay in the state for as long as it is still valid. For permanent residents like me, the rule is different as we are only allowed to use the license up until 3 months from our date of arrival in Australia. Beyond 3 months, we already have to obtain a Learner’s permit which we will only get if we pass the written exam. After passing the written exam, we can then take a driving test which if we passed will earn us the much-coveted Driver’s license. I took my written exam in driving, which they simply call Knowledge Test, but did not get my Learner’s permit when I passed the exam since my overseas drivers license was still valid that time.
I was very persistent in getting my license that I would usually book two to three 2-hour sessions with him in a week. However, a month into my driving lessons, my circumstances changed. Even though I was going somewhere in relation to my driving skills, I was actually going nowhere with regard to my job-hunting. I still forward my resume to various companies everyday, tweak my resume as necessary but I would only get a call or two every now and then. Most often than not, the phone interview or invitation to an interview would come from Melbourne. So I tried my luck in Melbourne and completely dropped every progress that I had been doing in Sydney, including my driving lessons. As luck had it, I was able to obtain a job in two week’s time. All of these happened November to December last year. ♥
Juggling my new job, the adjustments I had to deal with from living solo and the long-distance planning I was doing for our wedding then, I completely forgot about my driving. It was only until eight months after, 4 months into my pregnancy, that I decided to pick up where I left off.
In Melbourne, the rules are different as compared to Sydney. Permanent residents are able to use their overseas license up until 6 months of coming into Australia. Since I was already staying in the country for almost a year then, this was not applicable to me anymore.
I booked my Knowledge Test last August 10, which was a Thursday. I marched into VicRoads and was able to obtain my Learner’s Permit (like a student license back in the Philippines) also on that day. After getting my permit, I immediately tried to book for a driving lesson that coming Saturday. I called up a lot of driving schools but everyone was already fully booked the coming weekend. I asked a friend who had just passed his driving test then of his instructor’s number. The instructor’s name is Sam. Sam told me that he was also fully booked that coming weekend but he can accommodate me the next weekend. And so I was forced to wait for another week to start with my driving lessons. ♥
Sam and I started my first 1-hr driving lesson in Melbourne from my house. For our first lesson, he just observed and assessed my driving skills. He continued doing this until our second or third lesson. Sam is so nice and calm. He takes everything slowly but surely. This teaching style though did not suit me as I had a goal of getting my license the soonest time possible. Maybe it was my fault too that I haven’t informed him early of how fast I wanted to obtain my license. So I tried looking for another driving instructor from a different driving school who I can do an express lesson with.
Luckily, I found John. John is one of those instructors who replied to me quickly when I was still looking for a driving instructor. Since Sam and John were offering me the same time slot then, I just went with Sam as he was recommended by a friend.
John is in his sixties and is already retired. He did not divulge this bit immediately but I was able to ask him about his age later into our lessons. I did an express lesson with him the first time. That express lesson really lived up to its name since he went through with me everything that the examiner will ask me to do during the test. I felt bombarded! My head hurt after the lesson. Nonetheless, I felt confident that he’ll be able to guide me into what I wanted to achieve. At the end of our first lesson, he asked me how I did feel about it. I told him that it was information overload for me! He replied that it was expected because that’s how usually an express lesson goes. Since I liked his teaching style, I decided to transfer to him.