East Texas is one of the most unique regions I've ever been to, it's almost indescribable to those who have never been. While being away at college, I realized exactly how much there is to love about the region, and exactly how much I missed about home.

Here are the top five things I missed about my amazing hometown of Tyler while away at college at Auburn University in Alabama. Yes, it's still in the south, but it's still not home.

1. The Food

Mexican food. Texas has the world's greatest (aside from Mexico, obviously). If I could eat the Enchiladas Verdes from Don Juan's in Tyler every day, I would be the happiest person alive. The Mexican food in Alabama just isn't the same as it is here; after all, melted white cheese just isn't queso.

And what good is a barbecue joint without brisket on the menu? Stanley's Famous Pit Bar-B-Q knows the way to any Tylerite's heart with brisket on the menu for both breakfast and lunch. Needless to say, it is always a great day when it starts out with Texas barbecue.

2. The pride people have in being from Texas

Yes, it's true. Texans are the proudest group of people you will ever encounter. We still claim that we could be our own country again if we wanted to and are always willing to stand up to make a point about how great it is here. Honestly, what is there anywhere else in the world that isn't in Texas? We have beaches, deserts, forests, lakes and more. I mean, we even have a Paris!

3. Everyone is friendlier here

Everyone has seen those signs that say, "Drive Friendly, the Texas Way," they are totally serious, Texans are genuinely nice people. It's just the way everyone here is raised - be kind, use manners and "yes ma'am" and "no sir" are expected responses to any question. Even though I'm at school in Alabama, which is still in the south, there is still a difference in how people treat each other here in Tyler

4. Small-town feel but in a civilized location

Growing up in Tyler, I never realized what a big city it was until I left. With a population of almost 100,000 people in the city limits, Tyler claims a decent-sized spot on any map of Texas. At the same time, Tyler has that small-town feel to it as well. Everyone knows everyone and families have lived here for generations. It's not uncommon to go to Brookshire's and see 10 people you know just while picking up a few groceries. That is something I had always taken for granted, but it's nice to come home and still recognize faces everywhere I go.

5. Outdoors

While Alabama has some beautiful features, nothing beats a day out on an East Texas lake. Whether you spend the day tubing, skiing or just sitting on a dock fishing, the lake is the place to be during hot East Texas summers. And if water sports aren't really your thing, then there are always parks, camps and the world-famous Tyler Rose Gardens.