A few months after I arrived in Michigan, I met some new friends at dinner in the dining hall: two hilarious and charming guys from England. Upon my saying all of six or seven words, they put down their utensils and asked with wonder, as if they may have just found a golden ticket, “Wait. Are you from the South?!” When I said that I was, they bubbled over with questions, hardly able to contain their excitement and spending the rest of dinner grilling me with sincere and outrageous questions about the South. I filled them in on the countless stories chronicling a life in the South, from Southern comfort food cooked by grandmas with a good dose of butter, advice and sass to “ride your tractor to school day” (yes, that was a real thing at my high school) to coon hunting (hunting raccoons).
“So people really spit around you and ride tractors? It sounds like an absolute paradise!”, they remarked with electric fascination and a gleeful gush of laughter at the thought of it all.
No matter where I go, someone nearly always manages to remark, “You’re from the South, aren’t you?” with a knowing smile within seconds of meeting me. At first, I was puzzled by this! How could a complete stranger realize immediately that I’m a transplant from the South, y’all? Okay, maybe it could be that I had already broken out my tri-climate parka while it was still “balmy” by Northern standards… But, now that I am well into my second semester at The University of Michigan, I have picked up on some of the big differences between here and my Southern homeland of sweet tea, cow pastures and rocking chairs that I love so much. Here are a few of the things, though majorly generalized, that are dead giveaways of a Southerner and will help you spot one anywhere.
- We don’t say “pop”
- We say “yes ma’am” “no sir” and “excuse me”
- We monogram everything
- Manners are an art form
- We are the home of the Southern Gentleman
- We say “y’all” and “bless your heart”
- We cook for comfort
Even with all of the things I love about the South, I have come to love Michigan as well as a second home. It has given me incredible new friends from across the country, beautiful snow that is falling outside of my window right now, fall football games in the Big House and my dream school. Meeting people with different roots is one of the great adventures of going away from home and has brought a new spice to my life.
Christina Maxwell is a college freshman at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan majoring in Musical Theatre. Originally from Asheville , North Carolina, Christina was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of North Carolina for 2012 and the Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2012. Learn more about Christina here!