Throughout this semester, the questions that have constantly nagged me from 12:00-1:15 every Tuesday and Thursday have been these: why should I care about what I’m learning right now? How can I apply this stuff to my daily life? Is it important and, if so, then to what extent? Being from the mountains of far western North Carolina, I’ve lived my entire life with the Appalachian mountains as my welcome mat and a plethora of minerals as the precious treasures I buried in the ground as a kid. However, until taking Intro to Geology with Dr. Pillar this semester, I’ve never realized how much of a geologic hot zone my hometown of Murphy, North Carolina really is. Last weekend, I was fortunate to be able to return close to home for an overnight camping trip in the Nantahala Gorge. Inspired by the recent lessons I’ve learned, I sought to put my geologic know-how to the test by scouring the backcountry campsite for whatever minerals I could find. After about thirty minutes, I’d been able to find a good number of minerals scattered across and beneath the earth: identifying feldspar, milky quartz, granite, and hornblende all in decent-sized amounts. I was amazed at how excited I was to show the friends I was camping with all that I had found, but I was even more surprised by the shocking fact that none of them really seemed to be sharing my enthusiasm for my mineral finds. This was potassic feldspar I was holding in my hands for crying out loud—POTASSIC FELDSPAR!—how in the world could you not care? In my mind, this was some really cool stuff we were working with; after all, think of all the uses that these minerals have, all the roles they play in rock compositions and chemical processes! Whatever dismay I showed, the fact still remains that I was using the knowledge I learned in my Geology class here at Queens out there in the natural world. In addition to these finds, I looked around at the Appalachian mountains dwarfing us and thought back to the lesson where Dr. Pillar talked about how this chain of mountains running from Georgia to Maine used to be taller than even the Himalayas. Due to weathering and erosional processes, these mountains have drastically shrunk in size over the span of countless centuries. They are an ancient testament to time, showing us that yes, geologic processes do happen in cycles, and that yes, change is imminent despite the action we humans may take. All in all, I was blown away by the massive grandness of it all and, thanks to everything I’ve learned so far this semester in Geology, I now know not only how to appreciate but also how to talk about the features that make our natural world as complex and intriguing as it really is.