Getting Adjusted to Life in the U.S.

This section contains information about settling into and getting adjusted to life in the United States, and information in this section applies both to H-1B faculty and J-1 scholars.

  • Once your hiring department has begun a new sponsorship request to the ISSO, you may be invited to enter additional information.
  • Once you have been assigned your UNC Charlotte username and password (called your NinerNet credentials), you may login to the ISSO Scholar Portal. Please use Google Chrome for best results.
  • The ISSO Scholar Portal can be used by H-1B faculty and J-1 staff to make various visa-related requests.

Charlotte, North Carolina is a dynamic, diverse, and growing city in the Southeast region of the United States. The following section contains information, links, and resources to help you learn more about the city we call home.


Read more about Charlotte’s history at Charlotte’s Got A Lot or visit the Charlotte Museum of History.


As the center of the nation’s fifth largest urban region, we are considered one of the South’s and one of the Nation’s premier cities. Approximately 850,000 people reside within the city’s borders. Over two million people live in the Greater Charlotte Metropolitan Area.


Our location in the sunny, moderate Central region of the “Tar Heel” state provides unparalled variety. Interstates 77 and 85 intersect in Charlotte and link the city with the Great Lakes region, New England, and Florida. Interstate 40 runs coast-to-coast across the United States and is only an hour north of Charlotte. A two-hour journey to the west takes you to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains; a three-and-a-half hour trip to the east leads to Atlantic beaches. And within an hour’s drive east of the city are some of the world’s best golf courses.

Charlotte “Fast” Facts:
  • It is the third fastest-growing major city in the United States.
  • Charlotte is home to the corporate headquarters of Bank of America and the east coast operations of Wells Fargo. This makes it the second-largest banking center in the United States.
  • Charlotte was named in honor of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who had become the Queen of Great Britain just seven years before the town’s incorporation.
  • Because of the previous fact, it was nicknamed the Queen City.
  • 17th biggest school system in the United States.
  • 10th busiest US airport, 700+ daily flights
  • The Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Race (3rd largest attended sporting event in the U. S.)
  • Charlotte Bobcats NBA Team (basketball)
  • Carolina Panthers NFL Team (football)

Charlotte has hundreds of restaurants which range from inexpensive to very expensive, American food to Vietnamese. It would be difficult to list even a few of the most popular in town because for everyone this list is somewhat different. However, some good resource guides or tools that Americans use to find restaurants and other events in Charlotte include: Yelp, Charlotte’s Got A Lot, Google, and other websites. A growing number of ethnic restaurants such as Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Spanish, Lebanese, Greek, Thai, Italian, German, and Korean have come to Charlotte to entice the palette.

Public Schools

Every city in the US is required to provide free public education through grade 12 to its resident children. If you wish to enroll your children in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System follow the steps below:

  1. Visit the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools enrollment webpage or call the C-M Board of Education International Center at 980‑343‑3784 and set up an appointment to enroll your child.

  2. Gather the following documents: proof of birth (birth certificate or passport); immunization record; transcript or official school record from your home country (official transcript is required for high school students, 15-18 years of age); results of any language proficiency tests if taken in the last six months; and proof of your US address (lease or utility bill).

  3. At the Board of Education International Center you will complete a registration form and your children will take a language proficiency test if they have not done so already. If you are applying via paper form found on the CMS webpage, you can submit it and copies of supporting documents directly to your child’s home school.

Additional information can be found here.

Private Schools

Private schools vary according to affiliation (e.g., religious), location, cost, level (primary, secondary or high school). Enrollment procedures vary with each school so be sure to inquire about these when choosing which school would be best for your child.

Child Care Resources

Daycare centers and private nursery schools (for preschool children) can be expensive. Plan ahead and be certain to compare costs by calling several places; it is also advisable to consult with colleagues and neighbors to gain general knowledge about pre-school programs in your area.

There are different kinds of child care in the US:

  1. Day care: Full/part-time care for suitable for parents who work. They are licensed by the State and, while unlicensed day care centers may not necessarily be of poor quality, you should check to see if the center is licensed.
  2. Nursery schools are also licensed, but may meet different needs. Some may offer flexible schedules or some may offer child care on a limited hour basis only.
  3. Family day care is child care provided in a home other than the child’s own home. Usually there is one adult caring for up to six children.
  4. Playgroups are informal arrangements made by a group of families. They usually operate in the families’ homes, with parents taking turns caring for the children, or hiring a teacher and sharing cost.
  5. After-school (or extended day) programs are provided by some public schools and day care centers. These are offered to provide child care during late afternoons when parents are still at work.

Please see the resources below:

University Bus Services & Parking

The university provides local, campus-based bus service via the Niner Transit Bus Services. In addition, you can arrange parking at the university. Learn more here.

Public Transit

Charlotte Transit – – There is a regular bus service Monday through Sunday from UNC Charlotte to various destinations in Charlotte. Bus schedules are available in the ISSO.


Purchasing a Car – When buying an automobile, you must receive the Certificate of Title and Bill of Sale. You cannot register a car without these papers. When selling an automobile these papers will be given to the buyer by you.

Vehicle Registration – The State of North Carolina requires all automobiles, motorcycles, and other motor vehicles be registered in North Carolina and insured in North Carolina at the time of purchase or transfer of title. Written proof of ownership is required to obtain the license plate. To register your car you will need to present the following to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) registration office: title, registration card, and proof of insurance. Registration and license plates are available at 4612 Hwy 49 in Harrisburg, telephone number 704‑455‑9517.

Driver’s License

The operation of an automobile without a valid driver’s license is illegal and punishable by a fine and / or jail sentence. An international driver’s license (which is valid for 30 days) and a valid license from your home country are acceptable. However, it is recommended that you obtain a North Carolina driver’s license.

To obtain a driver’s license in North Carolina you must:

  1. Present the following personal identification documents having the exact same spelling of your last name: passport, official letter from the university which provides the necessary information, and proof of residence.
  2. Pass a written test
  3. Pass a road (driving) test and a vision test
  4. Provide proof of car insurance. If you do not intend to have your own car, ask to sign the waiver form freeing you of the insurance obligation
  5. Pay a fee of $4/year (duration is usually 5 or 8 years)
Driver’s License Office Locations
  • Highway 29 near University Place, Charlotte 704‑547‑5786
  • 2192 Kannapolis Highway, Concord 704‑782‑7214
  • 6016 Brookshire Blvd. Charlotte 704‑392‑3266
Automobile Insurance

An operator of an automobile in an accident may be responsible to pay for any injuries and damage. If you own an automobile, it is required that you obtain liability insurance.


Many of the ISSO’s international and intercultural programs, such as the popular event International Coffee Hour, are open to international scholars and faculty and their families, and we encourage you to attend these events during your time here. Additionally, information about workshops, townhalls, and other events may be posted to the ISSO website’s Programs and Workshops page.