It wasn’t until I went to New Zealand that I realized I’d readjusted my brain to accept that the Australians drive on the other side of the road. When my tour guide would remind the North Americans to look right first, I felt like I couldn’t quite identify with them anymore because I’d been in Australia long enough that I was practically Australian in that sense.
At first, I remember figuring out traffic patterns being complicated and down right mind boggling. My friends and I did a lot of street crossing against the signals our first week which probably wasn’t the smartest thing, but we’re all still alive. There were a few close calls, however, when we’d hastily try to cross the street instead of taking our time to double check for cars coming from the right direction. One soon realizes it’s not easy to rid yourself of a habit that’s been ingrained into your brain since the time you were old enough to understand. Just contemplating the possibility of that happening is inane.
As time’s gone by, I realized I didn’t have to think as hard when it came to crossing the street. I would just have to mentally remind myself which way to look first and that it wasn’t left. But it hadn’t occurred to me that I’d progressed as far as reacting without thinking about it until I was around people who were new to the whole Australians-drive-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-road situation again. You know, when I think about it, it’s almost ironic how it took a weeklong vacation to another country for me to figure out my brain had been slowly rewired. That thought alone was enough to slightly rattle my very being.
Now that I’ve come to that realization, I can only imagine what it’ll be like returning to the States. It’ll be like going to Australia all over again. That’s probably the least of my worries because I can just picture what it’ll be like to drive a car again after five months. Just maybe, if I’m lucky, it will be like riding a bike. The fact I haven’t driven here at all should help, right? Let’s hope so for everyone else’s sake. At this point, I can only look forward to the time it takes me to retrain my brain while, in the meantime, I head to the wrong side of the car and check for traffic the wrong way. There’s no telling how my family will react to my actions, but knowing them it’ll be with jokes I’ll never be able to live down.