During the party that the International Club hosted for all interested international and national students, there was a booth where you could take photos with all kinds of crazy props. One of these props was a cut-out that read “Finally a Niner”.

As I picked it up I thought to myself, “Is this all it took to become a Niner?”

The reply came quickly and the meaning of it was overwhelming. “Yes, this is all it took.”

On Tuesday, Aug. 12, I arrived at the Global Gateways House in Greek Village. With my large, bright red suitcase (which was not the only piece of luggage I had) I looked around and saw no one.

Yup, you read correctly; no one.

That’s when I realized that I am very alone in a very strange country, that is not portrayed well in the media, with my family and friends half way around the world in South Africa. I made a mental note to meet some people as soon as possible.

While exploring campus I had a second and third epiphany –campus is massive and might be the equivalent in size of my hometown in South Africa, and there were not many people on campus yet. My very extroverted self was disappointed to say the least.

My first day at UNC Charlotte ended with a small hope that orientation the following day would give me something different –and boy, did it.

Sitting in the very first row in Rowe, I looked around the hall and saw 74 other faces looking just as excited, confused and determined as I felt. I instinctively knew that this is going to be a good semester.

After three days of the incredibly humbling experience of orientation, I had made so many new national and international friends. I had left so much behind and was so scared that things might not live up to the standards that my imagination created, but I was in awe of how inaccurate that fear was.

Parties, classes, administration, paying way too much for things at Barnes and Noble in the Student Union and lunch at Crown Commons are just a few things that made the transition of coming from a very different university experience to becoming a Niner so much smoother.

I can feel myself transitioning from “International” to “Niner” each time I ate an M&M cookie or slice of pizza in Crown. It is a good feeling.

With a new and fresh semester to look forward to, including some very exciting moments like my first-ever snowfall and an American football game, being a Niner and adoring Norm seems like a pretty awesome way to spend the following five months. I look forward to each unique Niner Nation experience.

As I picked up that cut-out at the International Party, I knew that not only do I now qualify to be called a Niner, but I also think it has a nice ring to it.



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