New year, new me, new country…?
I’ve emigrated to Sydney, guys! Yay!
I spent a wonderful Christmas and New Year with my family but as soon as January 3rd came around, my bubble got popped and it dawned on me that I have so much to do. One is getting a job and the other is getting my driver’s licence in order. I have a Mauritian driver’s licence but little did I know how far it would get me here.
About a month ago, I went down to the RMS (Roads & Maritime Services) closest to my home. They are the NSW government agency responsible for issuing the licences here. I went down to enquire about the procedures for someone in my shoes – a new immigrant, holding a licence from her mother country. I queued up at the “Check-In” counter and was greeted my the attendant. Everyone is so friendly and helpful here! I explained my dilemma and she gave me an application form and said that the first thing I needed to do is book a test called “Driver Knowledge Test” (DKT) and go from there. She said that if I didn’t want to book it right then, I could do it online. I opted for the latter as I wanted to check my calendar first.
First of all, let me just say that I was really impressed by their booking system online. You enter your details, pay by card online ($44) and they give you all the available date and time slots you can book your test for. Like, they actually give you the option and you can choose whatever suits you best.
I booked my test for January 9th at 1pm.
Now I had to find out how to study for the test. Is there a booklet? Would I have enough time to study all the new rules and regulations of the roads here. They have train rails, tram rails, SO MANY LANES, a million tiny roundabouts and a gazillion road signs everywhere and I was feeling just a little bit overwhelmed by it all. Anyway, I was told that I could just download an app on my phone called “DKT Test” and that would be all I would need. Or I could also go through the DKT handbook available on their website (for free I might add).
So that’s exactly what I did. On the app you can choose to do a 45 question simulation test which is exactly like the real thing, do random questions or just do all 355 questions. Yep you can go through all the questions that you might possibly get on the actual test and you can do it how many times you like. Isn’t that a little bit like cheating though? Lol. If you get a question wrong, they give you the correct answer so my tactic was just to do all 355 questions so that I would know all the answers.
January 9th came all too fast but I was ready. Application form in hand, I arrived at the RMS at around 12.15pm. I queued up at the Check-In counter and was given a ticket. There are overhead screens that display and call out your number directing you to the counter you should go to. My ticket number was K128. The seating area is so big and each semi-circle sofa has a tiny round table on which you can fill out your form or get your things in order. I got all my documents out and waited for less than 10 minutes and my number got called out.
I went to the counter and gave the clerk my form and other required documents which included my Mauritian driver’s licence. After going through it all, she asked me where was my licence. I pointed out that it was the flimsy blue piece of paper in her hand. She then nudged her colleague and asked him if he had ever seen “one of these”. I had to laugh of course. She then got up and said that she needed to check in the books if it was valid. Her colleague then proceeded to say “It’s a bit old-fashioned, isn’t it?”.
I waited a while but she finally came back and said that it was in the books. I don’t know exactly what that meant but she then proceeded with the application. In the application form, an expiry date is required for the driver’s licence but the Mauritian driver’s licence doesn’t have an expiry date so she told me to put the year 2099 as the expiry date, in other words, it won’t expire in my lifetime lol. I did a quick eye test and that was it. She led me to one of three small booths (each booth only had a touch screen and a pair of headphones), told me to have a seat and that was it. She wished me good luck and my test begun.
To my surprise, the test was exactly like the app test. I know I was told it would be but seeing is believing. There is also no time limit so you can take as little or as much time as you like. I answered all the questions correctly, obviously, like how could I not! I was told to go back to the waiting area and that I would be called momentarily. Well, it turned out that my Mauritian driver’s licence doesn’t count for anything here and I have to go through all the procedures like a completely new driver which is sad (for me, mostly). My mum who’s a South African driver’s licence holder can just get hers converted to an Australian one.
They took my picture and I was issued with a Learner’s licence receipt ($24) and was given a Driving Test Guidebook and around 6 plastic yellow L signs for the car. Yep they give that to you! I remember having to go buy black and white L stickers at an old shop opposite the Line Barracks in Mauritius lol. My learner’s licence is coming by mail (2 weeks after application) and I can use the receipt till it arrives.
And guess what, I was out of there by 1pm.
It was definitely and most surely the complete opposite of the experience I had in Mauritius which is so great. The people, procedures and whole system is just far more superior. But y’know, Mauritius is what it is. There’s no place like it 🙂
“Maurice, c’est un plaisir!”
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I think my next post will be about public transportation. Such a mundane topic but hey, it’s so new and exciting for me.
Wishing an awesome 2017!