13 Signs You Lived In Southern Illinois And Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way

13 Signs You Lived In Southern Illinois And Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way

We are not just corn fields.

Illinois State University is located in Central Illinois. Although we have students from all around the country, even around the world, most ISU students are from northern Illinois (aka Chicago suburbs). Unlike most, I am from southern Illinois. Believe it or not, there are towns in southern Illinois (not just cornfields). As I try to survive the Chicagoian lifestyle, here's to those who display their southern Illinois pride loud and proud!!

1. Yes, I still live in Illinois

I live about 20 minutes outside the city of St. Louis, Missouri. When I say where I am from, I say in the St. Louis area. Many people respond, "But, that's Missouri?" I know but it's just easier to say that instead of saying, "I live in Illinois but not Chicago but it's closer to St. Louis but I actually don't live in St. Louis."

2. We are not just corn fields

There are towns here! Like actual towns with more than just a bank and one restaurant.

3. I am all things St. Louis sports

If you are southern Illinois native, such as myself, you follow St. Louis sports. I'm talking Blues, Cardinals, and even the Rams when they were here. We aren't named the best fans in baseball for nothing! We stand by our baseball fans through the thick and the thin. Even when I am going to school in Cubs country.

4. It will always be St. Louis Bread Co.

I'm sorry. I don't this "Panera" you speak of. There are plenty of tweets to prove it. All the memes that have ever trended always end up getting back to the controversy behind Panera vs. Bread Co.

5. You will never fail to be amazed by the Gateway Arch

I once had someone tell me at school that they didn't know what they Arch was. Seriously. The Gateway to the West? It's a national monument, people! And what's really cool is that you can actually go up in it! I took a field trip there in 1st grade. The saying goes that every time we cross the river, someone says, "Ope! There's the Arch!"

6. It's soda. Not pop.

I had never heard the expression "pop" until I met more people from up north.

7. Humidity is the devil

The temperature may be 75 degrees, but the humidity level is at 85% and feels like 90 degrees and super duper sticky. Don't even bother with your hair, ladies.

8. There is a difference between SIUE and SIUC

SIUE is located in Edwardsville (my hometown). SIUC is in Carbondale. No, we are not as south as Carbondale.

9. There is nothing better than toasted ravioli for dinner

Toasted ravioli is breaded ravioli stuffed with meat. In a nutshell, it's heaven. For a bonus, have it with tomato sauce! When we didn't have an idea about what to eat for dinner, just pop some toasted ravioli into the oven you are set!

10. Then having Gooey Butter Cake for dessert

Gooey Butter Cake is exactly what the title says. It's amazing! Who doesn't love dessert with lots of butter!?

11. And don't forget going to get pizza at your Imo's

It's the square beyond compare!

12. Your go-to beer is St. Louis' best

Anheuser Busch beer is where it's at

13. The best way to end the night is with Ted Drewe Frozen Custard

It's the best kind of frozen custard you can find in the St. Louis area. Unless you live in Edwardsville, then Annie's is where it's at!

Southern Illinois may seem like a wasteland of corn and farms. And it is sometimes. But when you've lived here as long as I have, you find the great things about it. It's home after all!

Cover Image Credit: Megan Pellock

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.

After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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As An Original Northeasterner, I Grew To Love The South And You Can, Too

Where the tea is sweet, and the accents are sweeter.


I'm not Southern-born. I'll come right out and say it. I was born in Connecticut and moved to Atlanta when I was 9 years old. I didn't know a single thing about the South, so I came without any expectations. When I got here, I remember that the very first thing I saw was a Waffle House. I thought it was so rare to see whatever a waffle house was but little did I know there was a WaHo (how southerners refer to Waffle House) every two miles down the street.

There is such a thing as "southern hospitality," and it's very pleasant for a newcomer to see. Southerners are raised with such a refreshing sense of politeness, and their accents are beautifully unique. It brings a smile to my face when I hear a southern accent because it's such a strong accent and one of my favorites. They answer your questions with "Yes, ma'am" or "No, ma'am" in the most respectful tone. I remember feeling so grown and empowered just because I got called ma'am. Southerners' vocabulary and phrases really have its ways of integrating into your own vernacular.

Before I came to Georgia, I never really said words like "Y'all" and "Fixin' to" but it's definitely in much of what I say now. I can tell when I go back up north to visit family that some of what I say may sound a little off because the dialect is very different. I find no shame in it, though, and neither should any southerner.

The weather in the South isn't so bad, in my opinion. Sure, there is very high humidity, but after living here for 10+ years, you learn how to deal with it. However, there's nothing like the summer thunderstorms. I love stormy, rainy weather and it rains quite often in the south, so when my birthday in July rolls around, I look forward to seeing that rain. It's the most peaceful weather to me and inspires me to write even more.

I could go on and on about the amazing fried foods here or the iconic yet insane Atlanta traffic, but those aren't what make me love the South. The people of the south are so different from up north but in the best ways. Everyone is so expressive and creative, as well as their own unique self. Southerners aren't the shaming kinds of people, but instead the kind who embrace who you are from the start. There's a fierce loyalty and a strong sense of appreciation that is just unmatched by any other place. No matter where I go, I always find comfort in knowing that I'll be coming back to this place I'm proud to call home.

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