Growing up in the South, I've been taught what it means to have good manners and how to treat your elders with respect. I appreciate good home cooking, even more so when I come home from college. I am close to my family and like spending time with loved ones on Sunday afternoons. There's no better time of the year, however than tailgating during football season and having a barbecue cookout in the fall. If you grew up in Alabama, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

While the weather may never be able to make up its mind, this beautiful state all has a special place in our hearts as "Sweet Home Alabama."

1. One word. Football.

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In Alabama, our lives revolve around football season. You better not have anything planned on Saturday besides tailgating for the ballgame and preparing for the cookout. Don't forget the buffalo wings either.

2. When the bad weather comes, you better take cover.

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It can be sunny one minute and raining the next. You never know what the weather might be so it's nice to always have your raincoat and an umbrella handy. In the case of a tornado, know the difference between a watch and a warning. After all, James Spann is the man, and he will keep you alert.

3. We have the best homestyle cooking.

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Fried chicken. Fried catfish. Fried potatoes. Fried green tomatoes. Fried okra. Everything must be fried.

4. We aren't all hillbillies, and we have cities too.

Ashley Cunigan

There's a reputation put on everyone across the Staes, but especially in the South. In Alabama, we may be seen as the hillbillies that know nothing but football and mud riding, but I assure you there's more of us who have visited outside of redneck country and enjoy time in the city. While I do love spending time on the lake and being out in the woods, there's nothing wrong with a shopping day in Birmingham or night out in Mobile.

5. The only way to serve tea is SWEET.

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Don't hand me tea without sugar in it. A little bit of ice and lemon wouldn't hurt either.

6. Forrest Gump isn't a real person.

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OK, OK. This was news to me when I moved to Alabama as well. My dreams were crushed. Forrest Gump wasn't a real person and the movie wasn't even filmed in Alabama. The town Forrest is "from" doesn't even exist. How disappointing.

7. After football season, it's all about NASCAR.

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With several large races being held across the country, no track measures up to Talladega Superspeedway. Locals love spending time at the races.

8. The summer heat is the worst.

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I've lived here for nine years, and I still complain about the Alabama heat. The humidity never gets better, in fact, sometimes it's worse. The only way to cool down is by leaving the A/C on all day or chilling at the pool.

9. It's a buggy not a grocery cart.

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You can't fight me on this. It's called a buggy.

10. Mardi Gras started in Mobile not New Orleans.

Every Mobile native will be the first to tell you that they're home to "the real Mardi-Gras." While most people believe the holiday tradition started in New Orleans, Mardi Gras actually started in Mobile in 1703. This makes it the oldest carnival celebration in America.

11. We have a lot of history (good and bad).

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We may be known for football, but we are also known for our rich history, too. Whether it be tracing African-American history during the Civil Rights Movement, designing the Saturn V rocket at NASA in Huntsville, or building the economy through mining and railroads, Alabama has some unique artifacts and museums to preserve our state's history.

12. Houndstooth is the new black.

Ashley Cunigan

If you ever saw a classy Southern woman wearing a black and white checker printed scarf or skirt on gameday, it's most likely houndstooth. After assisting Joe Namath to decide between playing for the AFL or the NFL, Coach Bear Bryant was gifted with a houndstooth hat and established an iconic look that everyone remembers.

13. In case we couldn't get more Southern, Piggly Wiggly is the name of our main grocery store.

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Yes, you heard that right. It's called Piggly Wiggly. Look it up.

14. Dixieland Delight and Sweet Home Alabama are our anthems.

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An Alabamian may pretend they're tired of these songs. but every time the classics turn on, you can't help but sing along.

15. Gulf Shores is the best vacation getaway.

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The sand. The water. The sunsets. The food. The company. Nothing is better than spending a hot summer day in Gulf Shores relaxing on the beach and watching the sun go down over the ocean.