I didn’t realize until I flew over Sydney that Australians drive on the left side of the road. Now, I realize that that sounds really bad, let me explain. Of course I researched Australia before leaving for my exchange program at Collarts, and of course people had informed me of this fact. It’s just that, well, I forgot. It’s a pretty big detail to forget, but I forgot it all the same. At first, I just dismissed my mistake because hey, I won’t be driving, right? Well, actually, due to either very fortunate or very unfortunate circumstances, the Drexel kids at Collarts now have access to a car and the experience has been…rather interesting.
The first thing you need to know about driving in Australia is that they drive on the left-hand side and the wheel is on the right-hand side. When you first sit down, the hand-switch is what gets you the most: you change gears with your left hand and your blinker is at your right hand. The second thing that gets you is the mirrors. For just a moment, you forget what you need to see with these mirrors. As you’re adjusting them, it feels awkward and foreign. Then, you get on the road.
Now, if you’re ever going to driving in Australia or someplace similar, just remember: look right-left-right, always right-left-right. Because it’s not staying in one lane that gets you, it’s when you have to cross a street or make a turn. It’s such an interesting phenomenon but all of us who’ve driven here so far agree that it takes more than just a second to process which lane to turn into. We’ve all sat in the driver’s seat and had a moment of “Uh…” as our brains are working in overdrive to rewire a process that’s been within us since we were born.
It’s easier when you have someone in the passenger seat that you like and respect but, ultimately, you’re going to make mistakes. We’ve almost crashed while merging, we’ve accidentally turned onto the wrong side of the road, and we constantly seem to be driving too far to the left (PS to study abroad: don’t worry, we haven’t died yet).
I’m definitely happy for this new experience of driving in a foreign country. And the best part is that, now that we have a car, we are much more free to go places and see things.
Want to follow my journey in Australia? Follow me on Instagram: @selmathemagicdragon