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Driving in Scotland

Traveling is something I do as regularly as possible. I don’t do it because I can afford it (I generally can’t) or because it’s easy (it usually isn’t). I don’t do it so that I can have something in my life to brag about (that’s ridiculous). I do it because it’s a priority in my life, because every country in the world has lessons to teach. Customs, languages, food, culture: it all appeals to me.

I want to learn; I need to learn.

One major learning experience I had was driving in Edinburgh and around the Highlands in Scotland.

Yes, I'd driven before--I'd even driven manual transmission before (it's still the standard in the United Kingdom). What I hadn’t done was driven manual transmission sitting on the right side of the car while driving on the left side of the road. Boy, did I learn.

-I learned that it’s not as difficult as I thought it would be to remember to drive on the left, though it probably would have been more difficult if I hadn’t been living here for 9 months already. -I learned that my right hand will always want to shift and it will take a bit of time for my mind to switch which hand reacts with an impending shift.

-I learned that you have to be quick to shift because you will be constantly shifting up and down. There is no such thing as “consistent speed” in the city. And on the country roads, the turns will force you to downshift then up-shift then down-shift again and again and again.

-I learned that when you’re used to driving on the right side it will take all of your concentration to make sure you’re not hugging the left too closely and that as soon as you stop focusing on it, you’ll drift left again. (This would probably go away after driving for a week or so, though.)

Because of driving in Edinburgh, I better understand why people own small cars in the UK instead of big ones. Navigating those twists and turns in a wide vehicle is sometimes scary. I also vastly improved my manual transmission-driving skills. I’ve always been good enough to get by, but now I feel more confident driving manual.

All of this happened because I drove for one day in the UK.

This is why I travel. This is one reason why I believe that it’s extremely important to take chances and do things that intimidate you, at home or abroad. It’s so that you can learn lessons you never knew you needed to know or improve skills you never thought about improving. It’s so you can better understand your surroundings and how to get from A to B. And, it’s for you to build your skillset so that when you travel to another country that has a similar system, you can confidently say, “I can do that!” if and when the opportunity or need arises.