16 Surprises You Experience As A Northerner In The South
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16 Surprises You Experience As A Northerner In The South

Crossing the Mason-Dixon Line can cause a bit of a culture shock.

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16 Surprises You Experience As A Northerner In The South
Kaylee Collier

I didn't realize how different the southern portion of our country is until I moved to Louisiana for college. As a Michigan girl who grew up in a rural area, I thought it would just be similar to the farm-laden town that raised me. I wasn't very daunted or apprehensive of my change of surroundings. In short, I couldn't be further from the truth. The South has its own unique culture, with each state adding its own individual flair. Slowly but surely, I have overcome my culture shock and learned to love the South's distinct characteristics. Here are a few of the most noticeable differences:

1. Manners

Growing up I was taught to say "Yes please," and "No thank you." I quickly learned that the protocol is a little bit different in the South. Here, you better answer a question with "Yes ma'am/sir," or "No ma'am/sir," if you don't want to instantly become the rude Yankee.

2. Sweet Tea

I enjoy iced tea. Before I moved to the South, I was used to putting in a tiny sprinkle of sugar or mixing it with lemonade. In the South, however, sweet tea is a delicacy. Tasting more like a pound of sugar than any tea I've ever had, sweet tea is the (non-alcoholic) beverage of choice around these parts.

3. "Cokes"

In Michigan, when you are referring to a general group of soft drinks of various brands, you call them "pop." Other northern states call it "soda." In the South, they are all "cokes." No matter what the brand is. A cooler full of Sprite, Coke, Diet Coke, and Dr. Pepper will almost always be referred to as "cokes."

4. A church for every street...

It's called the Bible Belt for a reason. I had never seen a road sign for a church like the one above before I moved here. Or colossal crosses. When I drive back to school, I know I'm officially back in the South when I see ginormous crosses.

5. And a Waffle House on every corner.

Southerners love Waffle House. As a kid in Michigan, I had seen maybe 5 Waffle Houses total in various cities and towns around the state, and had never been in one. The town I'm living in now has four. It has become one of my favorite breakfast restaurants on the planet. Who doesn't want bacon and eggs at 3:30 in the afternoon? Or 3:30 in the morning, for that matter? It is a holy place that must be protected at all costs.

6.Monograms everywhere.

Virtually every girl I have come in contact with that has been raised in the South has at least half a dozen monogrammed belongings. Most of them are three initials in the same swirly, girly font. Backpacks, necklaces, key chains, car decals, sweatshirts, phone cases, jackets, headbands. You name it, they monogram it.This is one aspect of southern life that still baffles me. Do y'all forget your names? Please tell me why this is a thing.

7. The food

Yes. Or should I say, yaaasss. The South is in a league of its own when it comes to delicious dishes. From hearty chicken and dumplings to spicy gumbo, the food of the South will make you wonder how you lived your entire life in the North without experiencing this kind of magic in your mouth. Louisiana especially has its own unique style of food that is out of this world. Gumbo, jambalaya, red beans & rice, po-boys, and beignets make me never want to leave this state. Not to mention the best fresh seafood in the world and my new favorite crustacean cuisine, crawfish. (No, autocorrect, notcrayfish. I will fight you if you automatically correct that again.)

8. "Bless your heart"

My favorite southern saying. "Bless your/his/her heart" is usually used as a nice way to say a not nice thing. I love it so much, it's a saying I usually continue using when I go back home. Example:

"Did you hear how Tommy did in his first semester of college? He failed every single class and has a 0.0 GPA. Bless his heart, he's dumber than a box of rocks."

"Have you seen Jenny's new baby? Unfortunately she got her daddy's ears, bless her sweet little baby heart."

9. "Baby"

My other favorite saying. Every person you come in contact with that is older than you will probably call you "baby" and it's completely okay. The South is the only place where a complete stranger can say "How you doin' today baby?" and it isn't the least bit creepy. It's such a sweet term of endearment. I wish I could hug the random people who call me baby on a daily basis.

10. Greetings

You don't just wave hello to greet someone in the South. As soon as you walk in a room, it is common courtesy to give everyone a hug. It doesn't matter if you've known them for five minutes or five days. Men usually just shake hands with each other, but sometimes they aren't even exempt from a hello or goodbye hug. Similarly, you better hug all those people when you leave too. This is another southern tradition I've learned to love.

11. Mardi Gras

In Louisiana and its surrounding states, Mardi Gras is a huge deal. Though New Orleans gets the most recognition for Mardi Gras, its scope is immeasurable. It isn't just a day, it's an entire season. Parades start as early as mid-January and run through the week of Fat Tuesday. The partying and merriment go on for weeks. The energy of Mardi Gras is contagious. It's such a big deal, schools across the region cancel classes that week. This year I have a whole week off for Mardi Gras, so it goes without saying that this is another tradition I'm in love with.

12. SEC Football

I've always been a college football fan. My friends and I grew up rooting for Michigan or Michigan State and participated in friendly rivalries when they played each other. Football in the South, however, is an entirely different breed. The SEC is a behemoth conference full of scrappy teams and the craziest die-hard fans on the face of the Earth. Even though I still love my home teams and stick up for the Big 10 Conference that I grew up loving, I know that the SEC is the royal family of college football.

13. Clothing

Speaking of football, I never imagined that football games were an occasion to dress up before I moved to the South. At my school's first home game my freshman year, I wore what I thought was an appropriate outfit of a t-shirt with my school's name on it and jeans. This is what I always wore to football games at home. (When I wasn't in a marching band uniform, that is.) As I walked to the stadium though, I felt extremely under-dressed. Most of the girls I saw were wearing dresses decked out with jewelry and their most expensive shoes and purses. Three seasons later, that baffling trend is still the same. The girls who go to class in over sized t-shirts and Nike shorts looked like completely different people on game days. This is another thing that still surprises me, someone please explain.

14. The weather

It's no secret that the South is hot. From May through September, a day under 90 degrees is a rarity that must be cherished.The first time I was here during the summer, I actually thought I was going to die. Or melt. The sweltering temperatures combined with humidity from the Gulf of Mexico make the air feel opaque and heavy. In the height of the summer, heat indexes can go upwards of 110 degrees. Winter, however, is when I love the South even more. While my friends and family back home count their snow by the foot, I enjoy sitting outside in the sunny, 60 degree weather. On the rare occasions when snow or ice is imminent, everything gets shut down for at least 24 hours. We once had an entire week of classes cancelled for less than an inch of snow. State highways and interstates were shut down for days. If you want to bring things to a grinding halt in the South, just call Jack Frost.

15. "Y'all"

Nothing draws attention to yourself more than saying "you guys" to a group of people. "Y'all" is shorter, not to mention rolls off the tongue easier. I've fully incorporated "y'all" into my vocabulary and wouldn't have it any other way.

16. The pace

Many people who visit the South lament over the sluggish pace that seems to rule the region. I sometimes find myself cursing people (usually in traffic or at WalMart) for their apparent lack of hustle. What I've come to learn, though, is that southern culture isn't exactly time oriented, which is actually a good thing.While northerners are characterized by constant rushing and fitting in as much work as they can in a set amount of time, southerners don't place as much value on schedules. What they focus on instead is people and relationships. And that seems like a better way to go through life to me.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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