Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Italian Driving School Diaries

Dear Diary,

I was feeling pretty good. I've been studying my textbook, going to classes at the Autoscuola and I have been driving for over 20 years.

However all my hopes and dreams were destroyed when I went to the school to take some practice tests on their computer. Ma che cazzo?! (but WTF?!). I failed the majority of the tests.

I am at a loss to see how someone who has been driving for so long could seem to know so little about driving. The last written test I took was in Los Angeles a couple years ago. I went to renew my license and didn't even know I would have to take the darn test. I took it on the spot without studying and passed no problem.

Yet here I am studying this for this f&^%$ test like it's the New York Bar and I'm still getting answers wrong. I said to the teacher in my busted Italian I don't understand why this is happening. He said the test is very difficult...just keep taking the practice exams.

I'm scheduled to take the test in a few weeks. I am going to keep up with the flash cards and hope for the best.

There is a silver lining. I'm so stressed out about this test I don't have time to worry about my dwindling bank account or that I can't get my groove back because I don't know where it is.

Thank you outrageously difficult written test for the Italian Patente B (driver's license class B).

note. While the classes are in Italian, I am taking the test in English. English is my first language. I have been speaking it for quite some time. Doesn't matter, the test is still kicking my butt.


Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

You can't take the English version?? :(

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I heard this in terms of the German test, as well. I'm glad it's providing distraction, though.

Kim B. said...

Oh man. What a nightmare. I'm not even facing the reality of this in France.

Hopefully the practice tests will do their magic and you will "get" their system . . .if there's one to be gotten!

I don't understand why in these countries the path to a driver's license is so confounded. It's not like it produces better drivers or anything!! What's the point?!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

sara - I am taking it in English! It might as well be Mandarin.

jen - I heard that too. Diana in Piedmonte took it and lived to tell the tale.

kimb - the drinking age is lower here so I think getting a license should be taken seriously and not given out like candy. As oppose to the States where getting a driver's license at 16 is extremely easy but a 19 year old can't have a beer.

That said I'm not sure why as a non mechanic I need to do know the inner workings of my engine, cooling system, braking system etc. ha

My Italian friends are excellent technical drivers. Whether or not they obey the laws is another story. I would be curious to see the stats on accidents in France, Germany, Italy vs. America ( I have no idea if getting a license in the UK is easy/difficult)

Tracie B. said...

now THAT's irony.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

tracie b - hahaha.

homebody at heart said...

But, are you getting to drive around Rome? That is the part that worries me! On the bus to Harian's Villa and Tivoli, I thought I would never be able to navigate there on my own.

dorina said...

i wish you much luck!

Kataroma said...

I've heard that the Italian test is much easier as the English translation is inconsistent.

I think the secret here is - study like crazy for the test and then forget everything - even the most basic road rules (like give way to pedestrians at crossings!) and just go for your life!

Moscerina said...

The Professor says its best to take the English test. I say, keep renewing your international driver's license-- or is that bad advice?

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

homebody - I heard for my first few lessons I will be driving north of the center, phew! I used to drive in NYC but mostly at night or on the weekends.

dorina - thank you!

kataoma - haha! Seriously. It's funny the textbook goes on and on about pedestrians having the right of way at crosswalks. Clearly some folks forget that as soon as they get behind the wheel. I'm not sure about the real exam but on the practice ones the test is in English with the original Italian right below it. I'll have to ask my school. I've notice sometimes the wording is off.

moscerina - I can't keep renewing it as I don't go back to the States every year. Also at some point I will buy a car so I might as well get the darn thing over with.

Diana Strinati Baur said...

Kim I have to say that I think I am a much better driver after passing the German Driving Test. But Germany is a country where drivers absolutely follow the rules of the road -- to the point of it being almost unbelievable.

The same is not true here in Italy. The test is probably as tough, but the population is not nearly as disciplined. So you learn it and pass the test and use little of it, as far as I can see.

In Germany, Americans have the reputation of being the absolute worst drivers in the world This comes from plenty of GI's having accidents on Autobahns as well as the experience of Germans in America - In Germany, discipline is an important part of driving (and breathing and everything else). No tolerance for dad teaching you how to put the car in gear.

Having said that, it does not matter in the end. I railed against doing the German test until it became non-optional. I screamed at the injustice of it, tried to get around it, but eventually I got on with it and went the flash card route. I passed it and the day after I passed it, I forgot about the injustice of it and continued on with my life. Just another requirement for expats. You can do this ragazza (and you too Megan if you read this!!)

Diana Strinati Baur said...

Moscarina -- renewing the IDP means nothing for residents. You have to have a resident driver's license within 12 months of moving here or you cannot drive here legally. They can prosecute you and take away your right to drive for a much longer period -- and if that happens, and you drive anyway and get caught --it is a criminal offense. Prison.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

diana - grazie. I am going to suck it up since crying about it is not going to make the test go away. It's interesting to hear about American drivers in Germany. It's funny so many of my friends in L.A. were cracking jokes about Italian drivers. However, I think So. Cal has some of the worst drivers on the planet and I say this as someone who learned how to drive in Jersey!

Last year I met more that one expat here with residency who says they just tell police officers (after getting pulled over while they were driving their Italian wife/husband/friend's car)they didn't know that they had to apply for the license within one year. Or they say they're only tourists. Coming from America where DWB (Driving While Black) is very real, it never even occurred to me to lie like that.

I think the days of letting American immigrants slide are over however. I heard the cops do check to see if the person is really a tourist. It's not that hard. They do have computers in Italy.

Anonymous said...

good luck with the test you will do great!

Sara said...

Your post made me laugh. I've been considering getting my driver's license in Chile which would require some classroom and behind the wheel classes then hours and hours of waiting in lines at notaries for little papers that don't mean anything to me but are apparently very bad if you lose.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

babyboyla - thanks.

sara - That experience, long lines for stamps that you can't lose, sounds very familiar. Ha