Having lived through a rigorous immigration process in the US and more recently in France I thought I was prepared for anything. Then I tried to get my French drivers license, which for some was apparently as simple as "Hello Madame yes we realize you drive on the opposite side of the road in Australia but here is your French license immediately".
My experience was more like " Once you have completed all of the documents please return a few more times so we can tell you some additional documents to complete. And once you have all of those we will tell you that you need a letter from the Canadian Embassy stating that you had permission from the Canadian authorities to live in the US for the period of time you were there."
So I explained that in Canada we are allowed to move to any country we choose, as long as that country accepts us. Not good enough. I need the letter or no driver's license. Okay. So I asked the Canadian Embassy for said letter.
WHAT??? We don't give Canadians permission to live in other countries.
Yeah I know.
So having failed miserably at the straight echange I get to take the legendary French driving course.
First the paperwork, which takes approximately 1 month to process and begins only after the submission of 4 photos, 6 stamps, 2 A5 envelopes, proof of residency, visa, passport and foreign drivers license translated by an accredited translator.
Next the 256 page study guide, (price 15€) in French of course, mandatory, which has at least 10 pages describing the meaning behind dotted lines, depending on the length of each, the distance between the dotted lines, how to measure your speed based on the number of broken lines you pass per second ( you know you are going 90 kmh if it takes 1 second to pass two dots and two spaces in between), and the secret signals these patterns provide including upcoming solid lines. I am in trouble.
Third the classroom sessions and accompanying on line exercises. for 559€ and 35€ respectively.
Then the first written exam. I was not quoted a price but I am sure there is one. Many fail. A mandatory wait period, and then restart.
Once I have passed the exam I can begin to take driving lessons, minimum 8 hours. In a manual transmission. If I don't take the exam in a manual transmission I will have a restricted license. And then of course the driving exam, which most people fail at least one.
Wish me luck!