The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Column – Universal roadblocks to getting a driver’s license

I believe that each and every one of us has something that we’re a little ashamed of. We’re uncomfortable talking about it and we feel like we need to defend ourselves. At least I know I do.

In less than two weeks I’ll be 21 years old-and I’m not anywhere close to having a driver’s license.

Ever since I left Europe for “The Land of Cars” that is America, I’ve met the same reactions from everyone.

First comes disbelief: “No way! How can you not know how to drive?”

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Then, the inevitable question: “Why?”

That is certainly a very good question. How on earth is it possible that I’m almost 21 years old and don’t know how to drive a car?

Sometimes I lie when people ask me why I don’t have a license. I tell them that I try to care about the environment, and that I’m therefore making some kind of statement.

Well, that’s pure nonsense. The truth is that I’m too lazy to make an effort. That, and I’m scared as hell when I’m behind the steering wheel.

It’s not like I haven’t given it a try. I have actually tried quite a lot of times back home with my family’s big Mazda.

My mother offered to make an attempt to teach me, but it was with a tense grip on the handbrake and a high-pitched trembling voice that she would sit in the passenger seat.

Almost every lesson followed a specific pattern: failing to successfully feel the balance between the clutch and the gas pedal, not managing the stick shift as one’s supposed to, and causing a breakdown. Somehow, I would finally manage to get the stupid car to move – but by the next stop, history repeated itself. Over and over again.

For some reason I felt like I had to defend myself, as if the failure wasn’t my fault. I blamed my mother for not teaching me properly (which really doesn’t make any sense, since she’s a teacher) and I blamed all things that could possibly be wrong with the car.

No wonder I don’t like to exercise my driving techniques.

It wasn’t until I moved to America I realized that I really, really need to go pull myself together and get that little piece of plastic.

Without a car here, I feel doomed.

I feel dependent on other people, and the fact that I need to rely on the bus scares me. It’s also an isolated feeling that I’m sure a lot of other international students without licenses, and American students without cars, share with me.

I don’t want to moan about America’s absurd car dependence. I mean, not more than I’ve already done since I got here, because that is not going to help me to get around or feel more independent.

Instead, this spring I will take driving lessons and study all the theory I need in order to get the license. This is the year I’m becoming independent from the lousy bus schedule and exhausting bike tours uphill from City College.

For the first time in my life, I will be able to go wherever I want, whenever I want.

But until then, you’re totally welcome to give me a ride.

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