My first time driving stick shiftMarco recently got a new car. Not “new” as in 2013 new, but “new” as in new to us. So while we were visiting his family in Southern Germany, he decided it was high time for another driving lesson.

We have had a few parking lot driving lessons in the past, each of which ended in frustration and yelling. But this time was different. I was determined to get past second gear.

So we drove over to his old Kindergarten parking lot one afternoon for an intensive driving lesson. It started off pretty well. Sure, the car died a few times (okay, a lot), but I really was getting the hang of it. He was a little frustrated, claiming that I was aiming for every puddle (it was a gravel parking lot), but I was proud of myself.

“Okay, let’s drive around town,” he says. WHAT?! I thought this was just a parking lot lesson. I’m not ready to drive on a real street!

Marco’s hometown is pretty rural, so I ended up giving it a go, and let me tell you — it was terrifying. Between him freaking out that I was going to drive off the road and me freaking out that someone was on my ass because I was going under the speed limit, this was no longer a simple driving lesson.

Learning to drive stick shift: before and during

After four roundabouts and a few intersections (pulling out into traffic is so hard with a manual transmission), we did finally make it home alive. Looking back on it, I am pretty proud of myself with how well I did. I think I can wait a few months before my next lesson, though.

Can you drive stick shift? Have you had to adjust to driving in a new country?