Education and Classroom Etiquette

In many cultures, there is a great difference in status between students and professors. Students show their respect for their professors by listening quietly. They do not question what the professor says. In the United States, it is quite acceptable for students to ask questions and to engage in discussions with the professor. This is not disrespectful. In fact, professors view participation in class discussions as a sign of interest in the subject matter.

During the first class meeting, your professors will inform you of their office hours and when and how they can be reached. If you have a problem with the material presented in class, do not hesitate to see the professor during office hours and ask for help. Even if you do not have a problem, it is a good idea to drop in and talk to your professor. It gives both of you a chance to get to know each other. This may be particularly important if you have trouble understanding the professor, or he/she has trouble understanding you. Often, all it takes is a little time to get used to the other person’s style of speaking.

At the time of the first class meeting, your professor will specify “due dates” for various assignments. These dates are quite firm, and you must hand in your assignment by that date in order to get full credit. If you know that you cannot meet a deadline for an important reason, contact your professor before the deadline and try to work out an arrangement that is mutually agreeable.

One thing you need to know about studying in the U.S. is that speaking and learning in English will be exhausting and frustrating, particularly in the beginning. Sometimes, international students have to spend much more time than their American counterparts to complete the same assignments. This can lead to stress and a feeling of inferiority. The most important thing you can do to improve your level of success in the classroom is to improve your English skills. Your English will not improve if the only people you talk to outside the classroom speak your native language. You should speak to Americans whenever possible, watch television or listen to the radio, and read newspapers and magazines. Interacting with U.S. culture will greatly enhance your ability to understand your colleagues and professors on the academic level. The more proficient your English becomes, the more successful you will be in the classroom.

If you are feeling pressure, you have to take the initiative and ask for help. You must ask to join study groups or ask professors questions. No one will approach you to ask if there is anything you do not understand. However, classmates and professors are usually willing to help if they know you are having problems. Be prepared to do whatever it takes to help yourself. Remember how much effort it took to get the opportunity to study at Gardner-Webb University, and then put twice as much effort into your work to make the most of your stay here. Feel free to visit the International Student Services Office in Tucker Student Center to discuss different strategies to make your university experience successful.

How to Obtain a North Carolina Driver’s License

A driver’s license in the United States is used for two different purposes. One is a permit to drive and the other is for identification. Each state has different rules governing the issuance and use of the license. In order to drive legally in North Carolina you must have a valid driver’s license. If you have an out-of-state license, (“state” meaning one of the states in the

U.S. as well as a foreign state), it is recognized for the first thirty days you reside in North Carolina, then you must obtain a North Carolina driver’s license. North Carolina does not recognize the “international driver’s license.”

If you plan to write checks in the area, you will soon realize how often the driver’s license is used as a form of identification. If you would like an identification card and would not like to drive, you can get one from the license office if you provide them with items 3, 4, 5 and 6 listed below.

The state of North Carolina requires six things to issue a North Carolina driver’s license;

  1. The ability to see, drive and have knowledge of the rules of driving in North Carolina. This is proven by taking and passing a test. The test has four parts: written, sign recognition, driving and a vision test. The written test is taken directly from the Driver’s Handbook which you can study here:

    A passing score is 80. Note: they do test your vision; if you wear glasses, take them with you to get your license.
  2. Coverage by, at minimum, liability insurance-get form DL 123 completed by your insurance agent and take it with you to the license office.
  3. Two forms of identification. Motor vehicle laws require proof of your full name and date of birth. The following documents are acceptable: passport with your I-94 card, I-20 or DS-2021, an authentic document from INS, certified or original birth certificate.
  4. Proof that you are a “resident” of North Carolina. This means that you are living in North Carolina. Effective November 1, 2001, in accordance with North Carolina General Statutes 20- 7(b1), every customer applying for an Original Driver License, Permit or Identification Card must provide one document showing proof of residency in North Carolina. This policy is for first time issuances only. This is in addition to the requirement for two forms of identification, unless one of the required ID documents has the applicant’s residence address on it. Requirement: Any document presented must have the customer’s current North Carolina residence address and name. Both the name and residence address must appear on the Driver License, Permit or Identification Card. Take some proof that shows you are employed or studying in the area.
  5. Effective September 1, 2006, the issuance of any driver license, learner’ s permit or ID card does not require the applicant to show proof of a Social Security Card. (F-1s with no Social Security Number and the F-2s can use their passports for ID and their I-94s and I-20s to indicate lawful status for the length of license. Same with the J-ls and J- 2s and their I-94s and DS-2021s. Proof of Residency is needed, such as an electric bill, apartment lease, etc. Call the local DMV for more information regarding this proof and it is recommended that you do so.)
  6. Fees vary, so check the Driver’s Handbook for the fee schedule.

In Shelby, the office is located at the US 74 Bypass 1914 East Dixon Blvd. The office is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can call and make an appointment for the driver’s license tests. Your license or identification card is issued while you wait. Below is the address and telephone number:

Department of Motor Vehicles
1914 East Dixon Blvd
Shelby, NC 28152
Telephone: (704) 480-5408

Auto Insurance

In order to obtain license plates for a car, you will be required to show proof that you have auto insurance. Many companies offer a variety of auto insurance policies, so you should “shop around.” After selecting a policy, read it carefully before signing any document/s. The following companies offer auto insurance.

Geico 841-3000
Liberty 225-2467
Nationwide 882-2822
Progressive   (800) 776-4737
State Farm 734-2265

Laws Related to Driving

Driving is a serious responsibility and should not be taken lightly. We have listed some of the laws related to driving that you should be aware of:

  1. Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal and is a punishable offense. (This is applicable even if you are of legal drinking age, which is 21 years of age.)
  2. It is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in a moving vehicle.
  3. You must drive at or below the posted speed limits. Speed limits may differ on different roads.
  4. You must stop for a school bus that has its red lights flashing and its STOP arm extended.
  5. You must make way for police vehicles, ambulances, or other emergency vehicles.
  6. Pennsylvania Law requires that drivers and passengers wear seatbelts.
  7. All small children must be seated in the back seat of a car. They should be seated in special car seats with the seat belts fastened.
  8. Only vehicles with special license plates and handicap stickers can park in spaces reserved for handicapped persons. These spaces are noted with a wheelchair symbol.


Once you are legally allowed to drive a vehicle, you should be aware of the fact that parking, on and off- campus, involves additional costs. You need a parking permit to park on campus. For more information about parking on-campus, contact the Gardner-Webb University Police at (704) 406-4444.

Meter parking requires the deposit of quarters into the parking meter. Note that parking rates may differ in different areas of the city. You may also need a parking permit to park the vehicle at your residence.

U.S. Holidays

If there is a major religious holiday that is celebrated in your country and you do not feel that you should go to class on that day, you can ask your professors if they will allow you to miss class that day. It is up to the professor to either agree or disagree with your proposal. If you decide to be absent from class without the professor’s consent, this absence may affect your grade because attendance is an important factor in the calculation of final grade. Major American holidays are listed below.

Government offices and business will be closed on those that are noted as “official holidays.”

New Year’s Day: January 1

This is an official holiday for schools, offices and stores. New Year’s Eve, December 31, is more important to Americans than New Year’s Day itself. Everyone gathers with family and friends to “ring out the old and ring in the new,” an expression that reflects the old custom of ringing church bells to greet the New Year.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday: January 15

This is an official holiday that began in 1986. Martin Luther King, Jr. organized and led the civil-rights movement in America during the 1960’s.

Groundhog Day: February 2

Not an official holiday. The groundhog is a small burrowing animal that hibernates during the winter months. Legend has it that he emerges on February 2. If he sees his shadow on a sunny day, he will be frightened and return to this burrow. This is supposed to indicate six more weeks of wintry weather. If he doesn’t see his shadow, then spring should arrive soon!

Lincoln’s Birthday: February 12

Official holiday in many states; often celebrated in conjunction with George Washington’s Birthday or “President’s Day.” Abraham Lincoln was President during the Civil War (1861 – 1865), a period that had a profound effect on the history of the nation. Believing that a “house divided against itself cannot stand,” Lincoln acted to free the slaves and bring the seceded states back into the union.

Valentine’s Day: February 14

Not an official holiday. A romantic holiday celebrated by sending cards and giving candy or flowers to special close friends and partners.

Washington’s Birthday: February 22 (celebrated on the 3rd Monday in February)

This is an official holiday. It commemorates the birthday of George Washington, commander• in-chief of the Revolutionary Army that freed America from the colonial rule of England. Washington was also the first President of the United States.

Saint Patrick’s Day: March 17

Not an official holiday. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, and this holiday was brought to America by Irish immigrants. People celebrate this holiday by wearing something green, socializing with friends and singing Irish folk songs.

April Fool’s Day: April 1

Not an official holiday. As in many other countries, this day is marked by the custom of playing harmless practical jokes on friends or colleagues.

Easter: A Sunday in March or April

Not an official holiday. A religious holiday for Christians who believe that on this day Christ rose from the dead. Many old traditions are now connected with Easter, including the decoration of brightly colored eggs and giving gifts and candy to children.

Mother’s Day: Second Sunday in May

Not an official holiday. On this day Americans honor their mothers by sending flowers, buying small gifts, and taking their mothers out to eat so that they don’t have to cook or work around the house.

Father’s Day: Third Sunday in June

Not an official holiday. Fathers are honored on this day. Children give those cards and gifts.

Memorial Day: Last Monday in May

This is an official holiday. Memorial Day is the day on which Americans remember those who died in military service to their country. Many families visit cemeteries and decorate grave markers with flowers. The day is also marked with patriotic parades. This day is considered the beginning of the summer season.

Independence Day: July 4

This is an official holiday. Independence Day commemorates the day the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. The holiday is celebrated all over the country with picnics, political speeches, and community get-togethers that culminate in fireworks displays.

Labor Day: First Monday in September

This is an official holiday. This holiday was established in recognition of the contribution of the labor movement to the productivity of the country. This day is the last holiday of the summer season and is celebrated with picnics and other outings.

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur: Late September/Early October

Not an official holiday. Rosh Hashanah, commemorating the creation of the world, is the first of the Ten Days of Penitence, which end with Yom Kippur, the most solemn of Jewish holidays. For Rosh Hashanah, families gather for a feast in which an apple is dipped in honey to express hope for a sweet year ahead. In Judaism, Yom Kippur is a day of judgment; on the eve of Yom Kippur, Jews ask forgiveness from those that they have wronged. The keynotes of the holiday are fasting and a collective confession, repeated several times throughout the day.

Columbus Day: Second Monday in October

Some organizations observe it as an official holiday. The day honors Christopher Columbus who is the explorer credited with discovering America in 1492.

Halloween: October 31

Not an official holiday. This was originally a religious holiday, but its religious character has been lost in the United States, and it is now celebrated mostly as a children’s holiday. Traditions include carving out pumpkins with funny or scary faces, as well as dressing up in costumes and going around the neighborhood to receive candy treats. When people come to the door, children say “trick or treat,” meaning “If you don’t give me a treat, I will play a trick on you.” Neighbors are ready with treats to distribute to these visiting children.

Veteran’s Day: November 11

This is an official holiday. On this day Americans honor the veterans of all wars.

Thanksgiving Day: Fourth Thursday in November

This is an official holiday. The first Thanksgiving Day was celebrated by the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts in 1621 to give thanks for the bountiful harvest and their triumph of survival over the wilderness. Now it is a time when Americans give thanks for the good life they enjoy. They celebrate by getting together with family to eat traditional food such as turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. Since this is the busiest travel time in the U.S., the day following is sometimes a holiday as well so that people can join their families in other cities.

Hanukkah: Eight Days, usually in December

Not an official holiday. This is one of the less solemn of the Jewish holidays, but one widely observed even by non-religious Jews. The only Jewish holiday connected with war, Hanukkah celebrates the victory of Jewish Maccabeus over their Syrian ruler in 1678 BC. Hanukkah is marked with parties, games, gifts for children, and the lighting of the nine candles of the menorah.

Christmas: December 15

This is an official holiday. Many people regard Christmas as the most important holiday of the year, with the holiday season extending from a few days before Christmas to New Year’s Day. Although its origins are religious in nature, it is a holiday celebrated by almost everyone in the country. Family members travel great distances to be together on this day on which gifts are exchanged, and a traditional dinner is shared. Even families who do not have strong religious convictions decorate a Christmas tree and join in the festivities.

Weights and Measures


100 Kilometers = 62.5 miles1 mile = 1.67 kilometers
1 Meter = 3.281 feet1 yard = 0.91 meters
1 Meter = 39.37 inches1 foot = 30.5 centimeters
1 centimeter = 0.39 inches1 inch = 25.4 millimeters
1 yard=3 feet1 foot = 12 inches


1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds1 pound = 0.45 kilograms
1 gram = 0.035 ounces1 ounce = 28.00 grams
1 pound = 16 ounces


1 liter = 4 1/3 cups1 gallon = 3.80 liters
1 liter = 1.06 quarts1 quart = 0.95 liters
1 liter = 0.26 gallons1 pint = 0.47 milliliters
1 cup = 0.24 liters1 ounce = 29.57 milliliters

Kitchen Measures

Americans use volume rather than weight in measuring quantities for most recipes in home cooking. They also use the term ounce as both a fluid measure and a weight: 16 ounces is both one pound and one pint or two cups. It is very easy to get confused! The following table may help you to decipher recipes:

1 teaspoon (tsp or t) = 2 liquid grams1 Tablespoon (tbsp or T) = 6 liquid grams
6 and 2/3 tbsp. = 100 liquid grams1  16 tbsp = 1 cup
2 cups = 1 pint (pt) = 454 liquid grams4 cups = 1 quart = 907 liquid grams
Yi pint = 22 liquid grams

Clothing Size Conversion Table

Dresses/Suits/Coats – Misses


Dresses/Suits/Coats – Women (Waist Sizes)

USA and British343638404244

Dresses/Suits/Coats – Juniors

USA and British7911131517


USA and British88.591010.511


USA and British303234363840








Centigrade (Celsius) and Fahrenheit (Fahrenheit temperature = 9/5 (Celsius + 32)) (U.S. uses Fahrenheit)

Centigrade (C)Fahrenheit (F)
Body Temperature3798.6
Room Temperature2068

U.S. Monetary System

The money system in the U.S. consists of both coins and paper currency, as it is in other countries. The most commonly used coins and bills and their equivalent to the U.S. dollar ($), the basic unit, are listed below.


There are four commonly used coins. They are:

1one cent or penny.01 dollar(Copper in color)
5five cents or nickel.05 dollar(Silver in color)
10ten cents or dime.10 dollar(Silver in color)
25twenty-five cents or quarter.25 dollar(Silver in color)

Paper Currency

The paper currency called “bills’ or “bucks” are commonly circulated in six (6) denominations:

  • $1.00
  • $5.00     
  • $10.00
  • $20.00   
  • $50.00   
  • $100.00

Time Zones

The U.S. is divided into 4 time zones.

  • Eastern (eastern states);
  • Central (central and Midwest states);
  • Mountain (west and southwest states including North Carolina State); and
  • Pacific (west-coast states).

Each zone is one hour different from the adjacent zone, thus if it is 5:00 p.m. in Charlotte; the time will be 4:00 Chicago; 3:00 p.m. in Denver; and 2:00 p.m. in Los Angeles.