Thanks to my southern small town, my parents raised me right.

I learned to respect my elders, say "yes, ma'am” and “yes sir,” and always speak to people I know when I see them in public — even though this southern quality can sometimes be a bad thing: you know you were raised in the South if you've experienced the pain of enduring a trip to the grocery store with your mom, and she has to stop and talk to every person she knows.

Thanks to my southern small town, I have tasted some amazing food.

From family meals to cookouts to potluck dinners at church, I've had some of best home cooked dishes that have ever been made. Fried chicken, sweet tea, biscuits and gravy, and SO many different casseroles - there's no shortage of delicious cuisine. But, I also learned, of course, that I have to eat my vegetables if I want to have any peach cobbler (and if I don't want to be left sitting at the table all night.)

Thanks to my southern small town, I can really appreciate hospitality.

"Come on in, y'all!" and "y'all come back, now!" might be some of my favorite things to hear. Nights spent playing corn hole and eating good food at a cookout, making s'mores at a bonfire, or watching a lightning storm from the tailgate of a truck might be some of the best memories, despite having a million mosquito bites once it's all over. And as annoying as the rumors of a small town can be sometimes, living in a town where everybody knows everybody isn't always such a bad thing, because you know there’s always a neighbor nearby that can help you out when you need it.

Thanks to my southern small town, I have experienced the beauty of nature.

From wide open spaces to beautiful sunsets to days spent at "The Rivah," there's no shortage of scenic views. Even simply taking in the landscape before me while driving down a back road can be awe-inspiring, and really makes me appreciate God’s creation. While we might not wake up to a beautiful blanket of snow as often as our northern neighbors, we've got our own fair share of views to appreciate.

People in the South might have the most endearing version of the English language there is — I mean, who doesn't love a good southern accent? When I hear people say "hey, y'all!" "bless your heart..." and my personal favorite, "oh my stars!" I know I'm where I'm meant to be… and I'm sorry, but it ain't in the north, darling.

It’s such a wonderful thing to grow up and to live south of the Mason-Dixon line; I wouldn't trade it for the world, and there's nowhere else I'd rather be. For as long as I live, the South will always have a piece of my heart.