UK: Immigration Nation

A report on the number of immigrants over the last year caused a surprisingly bitter response from most of the media. One paper, The Independent, stood up and claimed that immigration is what makes this country a great and diversified place to live. Their article, Immigration: This island’s story, talks about the quite varied background of the people of Britain. As an immigrant to Britain of course I agree with them. It’s made me pick up the Independent every once in a while just to show my support.

You Must Be Insured To Drive This Car

I decided to take my new driving license for a short spin up to Oxford. Henry was kind enough to offer his car and company during the trip. Michael and Yu Kyoung rounded out the standard seating capacity. When Henry picked us up from Staines, he hopped out of the car and rang his insurance company to add me to the policy.

They asked some questions about my age and how long I’ve had my license. We told them that I’ve had a US license since 1989 and that I had just passed my UK driving test. Apparently, this was no good. I was not allowed to drive the car. They mentioned something about a high-performance (about 200 Brake Horsepower) engine and a new driver. Now, we had explained that I’m not a new driver, just a new UK license holder but we didn’t get a chance to detail the power of my previous vehicles which were all above the 200 mark with a single anomoly of 315 BHP in one car!

Either way, I ended up in the navigator’s chair once again. I hear that I’ll be able to drive for real after I’ve had my license for a year. I hope it’s true. I must say that I did an excellent job of navigating us to Oxford. The day was great. We had a great pub lunch followed by a walking tour given by a rather eccentric woman. Her husband was with her and took care of forcing stragglers and people who tried to quit the tour early to keep up with us. The tour took a whopping two and a half hours! It was mostly interesting however and I got to see a good portion of Oxford and learn about it’s peculiar ways.

I’m now just sitting back and waiting until I can drive again. I understand that if I picked up an old mini for a few hundred quid and took out an insurance policy that I would be covered by third party on any of my mates’ cars. It’s an interesting option but I’m not too keen to own a car again – MOT inspections, looking for parking, paying insurance and buying petrol are not on my list of fun activities in life. I think I’ll be patient and write another story about being able to drive again next year.
Note: Trip Pictures are also available.

Passing the Driving Test

I can drive again! Well, almost. After two incidents of not being able to drive when I wanted to because my US license is invalid after residing in the UK for one year, I decided to get my UK driving license. I had heard horror stories some from people and read an article in the Wall Street Journal about how difficult the UK driving license test is so I was quite nervous.

I’m thirty one years old. The last time I took a driving test, I was fifteen. I had probably forgotten many of the things that I learned sixteen years ago and to add insult to injury, many of the “right” things that I had learned in the US are “wrong” in the UK. So, instead of just learning to drive I had to unlearn bad habits as well.

Bad Habit 1: Coasting. To most of my American readers this isn’t an issue. Coasting refers to holding in the clutch and allowing the car to coast in neutral. It turns out that I do this quite often. I hold the clutch in for about ten to twenty meters before a stop or make a turn. I’m still not convinced that the English way is the correct way since you’re not supposed to push the clutch in until right before the car starts to stall but I have to pass a test so I have to learn the correct answers to the questions.

Bad Habit 2: Crossing my hands when turning. Nicole agrees with me that we were actually taught to cross our hands when turning because it allowed you to turn smoothly and keep control of the car. Here I was taught to use the push-pull method where your hands never cross and since you can’t actually let the wheel slide through your hands after a turn (in either country) then you end up working hard to make any sort of turn.

Bad Habit 3: Just using eye movement to look into the mirrors. This isn’t a bad habit in the true sense of driving safety but it is a bad habit when you are trying to pass a test. If the examiner cannot see that you use MSM (Mirror – Signal – Manoeuvre). I tend to check my mirrors rather frequently and so I know what is happening around me at most times. Either way, I had to force myself into the correct thinking for the exam.

Bad Habit 4: Not doing manoeuvres at a crawl. I do understand that you have more control but simply reversing around a corner took more time than I have ever spent in a potentially dangerous situation. I like to get off the road quickly to avoid any danger. I learned to crawl for the test though.

So that was it. After paying for ten hours of lessons I was confident I would pass the test. Well, not that confident. I couldn’t sleep at all the night before. I was going over all my bad habits and thinking about how I would NOT do them. So I arrived at my test slightly tired, excited and nervous. I got in the car, drove off did everything mostly right (only two minor faults out of fifteen allowed) and passed my test!

Now, at age thirty-one, I can drive. Again.

Back in the UK

I have spent the last few months struggling with many people – mostly people I owe money to. However, that is all about to change since I have received my HSMP Visa (View a picture) and am now able to look for work in the UK.

It’s strange that I have spent all this time and energy and am now left with the responsibility of finding a job but that’s the way it works. I am flying out of Indiana in about 3 hours and I will start looking for a new job next week. I have a couple of opportunities in mind but am open to any suggestions that you may have!

I was lucky enough during this time of unemployment to be able to visit my family quite a lot over the last few months. I was able to spend an entire month home surrounding my brother’s wedding and was able to visit my cousins on both sides of the family at two different lakes over the last month.

Yu-kyoung and I are taking a trip to Rome in a couple of weeks so check back to see how that goes!



Work Visa

I have probably told many of you about my new job that was supposed to start in January. As you have probably guessed from the wording in my last sentence, it hasn’t. I have been trying to find a new job but because of a strange irony, I’m finding it difficult to do so.
The UK has a great immigration visa by the name of The Highly Skilled Migrant Program. I qualify under this program but I need to collect a few documents to prove that to the government. The reason for the irony is twofold. First, I could have applied for this while I was still working for Yospace and cleanly removed my dependency on the company. Secondly, I could have applied for this before my Work Permit expired and received a fairly guaranteed renewal. The problem? I didn’t know about the program at the time.

The good news is that I’ll be able to work for whomever I wish in the UK once I get my Visa approved. Wish me luck!