Driving can already be a hassle but imagine when the steering wheel and the road change to the opposite sides. Since Danny is in the military we get a SOFA license. SOFA stands for status of forces agreement, to easily explain it is an agreement between the US and Japan for security purposes. My husband could not get his license right away because the military had to approve his, so the pressure fell on me. Since I am his wife I could get my license without any permission the only thing I had to do was pass the test… I really thought that the test would be easy seeing that our sponsor and his wife kept mentioning how easy it was and how they both passed on the first try. Again, the pressure was on me. I HAD to get my license! As soon as I saw the questions on this test I’m pretty sure I had a look of horror on my face… This was not going to be easy. Well I got out of the room and our sponsor and Danny asked, “So did you pass!?” I had no idea since they told us to leave the room and come back as soon as everyone was done, so we did exactly that. They made us watch an 80’s driving video, which I barely paid attention to since I was awaiting my fate. I was sweating in my seat knowing that I had more than likely failed. The person who was running the testing started to call names and of course I heard mine as soon as he was done he told us to come see him and everyone else he didn’t call to go to the back of the room to talk to some other people. Well my gut was right.. I failed.
I felt like complete crap after that even though half of the class failed. We went home and even though I was torn by this I knew I had to study hard to pass the next day. I found the full handbook online instead of the 4 page one that our sponsor gave us and I studied my little heart away into the night; I was determined to pass this darned test! I woke up that morning knowing in my heart I was going to pass. Our sponsor picked us up, took us to the licensing place, I took the test and I passed!!! I was so happy! I had this big grin on my face and my husband and our sponsor knew I had passed this time. What I did not realize was how quickly Ben, the sponsor, would offer me his keys and have me drive his car. “OMG!” I thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t have passed this test, I am terrified.” Even though I was terrified I told him with this confidence, “I’m ready!”
I fixed the mirrors, put on my seatbelt and turned on the ignition; It’s do or die! I am being a bit dramatic but seriously I was scared. I drove a few rounds in the parking lot and Ben clearly thought I was ready after 4 rounds. I got on the road and had this mantra going in my head, “Stay left, STAY left, STAY LEFT!!!” I was so scared at first but once I got the hang of it I lost fear. Also, everyone drives super slow here because of the speed limits and it definitely helps a new driver get the hang of things.I feel like when we go back to the states I’m going to be terrified to drive there again. Although, it felt like my first time driving, a week later I am happy to say that I am completely comfortable driving now and I only accidentally turned right into the opposite lane once and did not die doing it (haha). Nevertheless, I am super comfortable and also I can drive on the tiny Japenese streets and I am a natural at it, so Danny says, that is a major key! Moral of the story is if you ever get sent out to Japan or anywhere else in the world where they drive on the opposite side of the road, and the steering wheel is switched as well, if you fail your drivers test the first time around, you’ll be ok. I promise.