Hannah Drake

The Expat Diaries, Vol. 07

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Have I mentioned I applied for a provisional driver's license? I filled out an application online, paid a £34 fee, and then had to mail off my residency permit and passport to Wales to confirm my identity. Luke looked up how much it would be to add me to his insurance, and it's kind of pricey since I have no driving history and only a provisional license. I wasn't sure if I was ready to start driving when I first applied, but lately I have had more of an inkling to drive. Not really to learn how to drive in the UK, but more so to have the freedom to be able to go somewhere by myself that's outside of my walking distance radius. Luke wants to get me driving lessons, which always makes me think of that movie, Driving Lessons, which starred Rupert Grint and Julie Walters, who played Ron and Molly Weasley.

The best thing about using a public bathroom in the UK--or Europe, as far as I can tell--is that the stall doors have no gaps. I've never understood why the US allows sometimes a massive gap between the door and the frame, but that's not the case here. The door overlaps the frame or sometimes, like in the Reykjavik airport, you have basically a little mini bathroom with a proper door all to yourself. It's a random thing, but it's also completely logical, isn't it?

I've been meaning to mention for ages something the internet does here in the UK that I never really noticed much in the US. Cookies! When you go to a site--even if you've visited a thousand times before--it will tell you that they're using cookies and in order to close that pop up, you have to click either "tell me more" or "got it". I just find that interesting because it happens all the time on all kinds of different sites and I just don't remember it happening all that often in the States.

And while I'm on that topic, another weird thing is that my computer and phone now automatically translate some websites. It will change spellings and even sometimes words to be something more commonly used in British English. I wasn't surprised that my work computer was doing that, but I've started to notice it more on my personal laptop, purchased in the States, and my phone, which was purchased here, but transferred the settings from my last phone, which I purchased in the States. And I can't forget that the little globe button for my Facebook notifications reflects the part of the globe where I'm based, but I noticed that on my first trip to the UK back in May of 2016 actually. Still, a cool little detail on Facebook you might not have noticed or known about before!

In the US, do banks allow you to just to a clean switch from another bank? Like take all of your information from the other bank to open a comparable account at their bank? I've never heard of such a thing, but I did that here this month. I had opened a current (checking) account at Lloyd's because it was apparently the only bank that would allow me to open one. Now that I had some establishment here with a bank account and a job and all that fun stuff, I was able to open an account at Luke's bank, which gives him a nice referral bonus and gives me 5% interest on my current (checking) account! I mean, WHAT?! I use to make literally one penny on my basic savings account back in Colorado! We also opened a joint account, which felt super married-ish!

Last weekend, we drove to Paris to go to Disneyland Paris with our friends Tom and Luke. I still cannot wrap my head around the idea of driving to Paris, but this is my life now and we did it! We took the ferry from Dover to Calais since it was significantly cheaper than the Chunnel. On the ferry, Tom had to put stickers on the headlights to ensure the lights were pointed in the right direction and they gave us a list of everything we needed to have in the car. I was surprised at what was required by French law, including high-vis gear for everyone in the car in case of a breakdown and a breathalyser, which has been required for all drivers on French roads since 2013. (Yes, seriously!) Anyway, I've got posts planned for next week all about our little weekend away and they're more exciting that French road laws! 

Sorry this month has been particularly boring. We've been busy with wedding stuff and really mundane things, so not much to write about. (At least for now.)