We had the chance to interview La Trobe University’s Edge of the Outback program alumna Nikki Tamayo who is from the University of Hawaii at West Oahu. You can learn more about the Edge of the Outback program on the API website here.
In this program, students spend 3 weeks in Mildura learning photographic techniques and then participate in photography workshops and field trips into the Outback with a local Aboriginal guide, who provides special insight into the cultural significance of the ancient landscape. At the end of the program, students present their work in a gallery exhibition.
(API) Why did you choose the Australian Outback as your study abroad location?
(Nikki) I have always wanted to go to Australia. I knew that some day and somehow I would make it there. Although, I wasn’t aware that my time to see Australia was so soon. I had always thought that it would’ve been a family vacation or when I was older. But as I was looking into studying abroad, the Edge of the Outback program in Australia suddenly became an opportunity for me to fulfill my dreams earlier than expected.
(API) What were the courses like?
(Nikki) The photography course started off from the basics of a camera, all the way down to putting my piece in an exhibition. Never have I thought about wanting to do something like this, until this program came up. When I first started the course, I barely knew anything about photography. I figured that we have a camera at home that no one uses or knew how to use, so I thought, “why not learn and put it to great use?” Ever since than photography excites me. It’s a vision and words that you put into a photo and that alone speaks so much.
(API) What was your favorite excursion or cultural activity?
(Nikki) Visiting and spending time at all of the national parks were probably one of my favorites because we were able to learn about Aboriginals and their culture and become one with the outback. It was an amazing experience. I remember going on a hike. We climbed this mountain and had lunch at the very top. The view was phenomenal. There was an eagle flying around, maybe 40-50ft away from us, and I remember thinking that that was the closest I’ve ever been to a flying eagle. I imagined that just by being at the top of the mountain and looking down is probably exactly what the eagles see and it was incredible.
(API) What would you tell someone who is considering the edge of the outback program?
(Nikki) You don’t have to love photography to join the program because in the end, you’ll learn to enjoy it. It’s peaceful and it opens your eyes to see what’s around you. Go into the program with an open mind about culture and making new friends. You won’t regret the outcome. In the program, you’ll experience the outback and I valued having, “a real Australia experience” because I learned about Aboriginals and their home, how they survived, and how it was taken away from them. You’ll learn to appreciate the land more after this experience. I don’t want to say too much, because than I will be spoiling the wild adventure. So I will leave those to your imaginations. I promise you won’t regret it.