Right so, I haven't uploaded a blog before, so I hereby got blog-deflowered or (b)logged, so to say :)
I decided to use this (irregular or infrequent) blog to explain some features of Dutch culture to the world.
I just received a text message from my girl friend that she's finally passed the driving exams, and so she can go pick up her license and drive out and about the country. I can almost hear the people on LI who know me thinking: But isn't he about 22 years old, so his girlfriend is about 20? Driving license @ 20 yo?
That's correct: My girlfriend is 20 years old and has just passed the driving tests. In the Netherlands, you can't start your driving lessons before your 18th birthday. In most English-speaking countries, the earliest age for driving a car is 16. The Dutch government argues however that a 16 year old has less conception of responsibility that driving a car brings along; The speed, the safety of others, and the costs of a car are often undervalued. That's why they set the minimal age for driving a car at 18. At 16, however, they are allowed to drive mopeds or scooters. And farm kids can opt for a tractor driving license.
Driving lessons are expensive, and, unless mummy and daddy are paying, a lot of 18ers choose to work for a bit to be able to afford it, like my girlfriend. An average driving lesson costs about €35. that's about $46. An average kid needs about 32 lessons. You do the maths. Quite an expense, right? And that's just the lessons. There's a lot of extra expenses; there's a compulsory traffic theory exam, a middle exam and the final exam. During the middle exam, you're tested on your special car movement skills, like driving backwards (and round the corner), pulling off at a slope (without rolling backwards for a bit) and loads of other special things. The Traffic Theory Exam costs about €80 which is $104 (add to that €50 on course books). The Middle Exam costs about €180 ($234) . If you fail, you have to do a resit, paying the same amount again. The Final exam is even more expensive, approx. €200, which is $260. My girlfriend failed 3 times for the final exam. Again, do the maths. So you can imagine she's pretty happy right now.
But now comes the long wait till friday, because then she can pick up her license. In my days, we could pick it up at the same day, but lately, since the credit card sized license was introduced, it takes some time to produce these.