Edge of the Outback 2013

See more photos on our 2013 tumblr.

Student stories

Alexandra Droba

Being a part of the EOTO program has been a once in a lifetime experience. This trip has been my first time traveling outside of the US and it was amazing! Coming in as a beginner who just thought of taking pictures as a hobby, I have learned so much about photography. I fell in love with my SLR camera five minutes after receiving it and it’s so great to actually know how to use it and take good photos now. In addition to the photography aspect of the program, I have met so many great and unique people from all over the world, not just Australia and the US. I especially loved being on the EOTO program because I got to see so many beautiful and amazing national parks in the outback that most Australians never go visit. I have loved everything about this experience, the sights, the wildlife and the people. If I ever get the chance I will come back to Australia in a heartbeat. I will never forget this experience and I am very proud of myself for coming all this way by myself.

Carly Morrissette

The Edge of the Outback was truly a once in a lifetime experience. The landscapes in Australia were breathtaking and I loved being able to photograph them. Not only did my photography skills and understanding develop, but I also grew as a person. I was able to learn about Australian culture and experience it firsthand. Everyone was so nice and welcoming. The staff took us to places we would not have planned ourselves so we could have a richer and more fulfilling experience. The people that I met here were really amazing and I will treasure the relationships that I have made. I would recommend this program to anyone. It will always be a special part of who I am.

Char Cocchiola

This has been an experience that I cannot do justice with words.  This was the first time I have been out of the country and the first time I have even been on a plane. The Edge of the Outback program put me in a place to really look for something different to photograph. It is hard when everything around you looks so different, and your job is to capture that. This program has given every picture I take have meaning. I have fallen in love with the kangaroos bounding across the landscape and the read soil toped with the bluest sky I have ever seen. However, I will be getting on that plane home with an experience that I did not expect to get out of Australia. I will be leaving with a new respect for a different culture, new friends and connections. Australia’s landscape, people and animals will always be a part of me.

Emily Rose

Being a part of the Edge of the Outback program has changed my life. We were instructed to not sound cheesy when talking about this program but it is impossible not to. It really has inspired me, shaped me, and given me so much knowledge about photography and Australian culture. Experiencing this trip with a group of my peers and being able to bounce ideas off of each other made it a hundred times better. Being able to watch people go from inexperienced to amazing photographers in the span of a few weeks inspired me to push myself beyond what I was when I came to Australia. Australia has taught me to look at the simple things around me, to look at the way light changes everything, the way a simple movement of the camera can change an entire shot and mood, how to not be shy and do whatever it takes to get the shot I have envisioned. When I’m older and look back on the photography career that I dream of having, this trip will be the foundation of any accomplishments that I have. 

Jess Nelson

EOTO is not only a trip, it’s not only a vacation, it’s not only school, but it’s a life changing experience. In the short time period of three weeks we are able to travel to unforgettable places to do what we love. All sixteen of us are here for the same reason. We each have a passion for photography and this trip was a stellar way to share our talents with each other and also the community. Everything I have seen and all the people I have met will be a part of my life forever. The images I have taken will allow me to look back and remember what I experience in just a matter of three weeks. They will give me the chance to share what I have seen when I return home. Everyone needs to have the opportunity to see the beauty the world offers.

Kabbakeh Bangura

'I’ve slipped through the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.' I’m a man infatuated with time and space. I journeyed to Australia to find my place in the outer world because I felt trapped in my inner world. In the short weeks that I have travelled around Australia I have not only developed a sense of gratitude for life and myself, but I’ve gained a sense of gratitude for my fellow peers. I don’t think I could have made it through this trip without the people I’ve been with and the new friends I’ve met. I’ve been to the top of mountains, travelled below gorges, and walk through Indigenous deserts and I am glad to say that yes, I did have fun. I’m a man millenniums beyond my years...

Laura Stringfellow

Many times in college we are defined by our majors. Oh you are an English major? You obviously can’t do math or science. You are a science major? Can you even spell your own name? These are just some of the stereotypes that we find. Coming to Australia was me breaking this stereotype. I am a chemistry major who has never taken a photography class in my life but I enjoy taking photos only I’m not very good at it.  This opportunity in Australia has given me the chance to become better at photography. Not only did I see myself improve as an amateur photographer but I found myself improving as a better person as I noticed the environmentally friendly ways Australia was keeping our Earth cleaner. I plan to implement some of the 'green' technology, which exists here commonly but is very rare in the states.  This reverence for the land I believe comes from the indigenous people, the Aborigine. Aborigines today remind visitors and their comrades that the earth can only support so many people at a time therefore we must be careful of our impact upon it.  

Leah Edwards

To say that this program far exceeded my expectations would be an understatement. Several weeks ago, I got on a plane and flew out of country for the first time, and I never anticipated how much of an impact this trip would have on my life. Through this opportunity, I have been able to immerse myself in another culture meanwhile exploring the beautifully strange landscape of the Australia. I have met so many incredible people who will continue to influence me for the rest of my life and forged friendships with people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I have been able to grow as a person and really embrace going out of my comfort zone. Going to areas not typical of tourist visitation greatly enhanced this experience as I learned about not only Australia, but about myself.

Liz Ulrichson

Traveling to another country alone for the first time is such a scary experience; it really makes you grow up. The decision to come to Australia was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. While I have always wanted to go to Australia, I did not know if I was ready to go that far away, not to mention spend that much money. In the end, though, I am very glad that I decided to come on this trip. The Aussies are a lot like me as they are very sarcastic. I have really enjoyed being able to come to Australia and see their culture, I always knew I would love it here but I had no idea how much. I cannot believe the three weeks is almost up, it really flew by. Being with such a small group for three weeks can be hard, you are definitely going to have some tension every now and then. We have had fights, laughs, disagreements, inside jokes, heart to hearts, and times when we wanted to kill each other. In the end, we know we are family and we have all left a mark on each other’s lives. The people I have met here and the things I have done and learned will stay with me forever.

Maegan Williams

This experience has been invaluable to me on many levels. My first adventure out of the US was daunting, stressful, and exciting – a true test of my capabilities from the very start. The scenery throughout this country is varied and there is always something new to discover in each place that you visit. The Aboriginal artwork in Mutawintji is incredible. Each mark illustrates a story that is beautifully interwoven into the landscape. Examining the charred emu eggshell pieces in the old fires at Mungo was just as overwhelming. Each place we visited was so different from the one that preceded it; it was impossible to get bored during our travels. I am so fortunate to have been a part of this experience and have the opportunity to develop as an artist and photograph something so drastically different from what I am used to. Anyone even remotely interested in photography can benefit and succeed in this course. My body of work from this course largely focused on paradigms and how we choose to view our reality, both knowing and unknowingly.

Margit Kneser

I have dreamed about coming to Australia for as long as I can remember, and as a photography major the Edge of the Outback looked like it would fit me perfectly. I decided that I wanted to participate in this program in early February, which did not leave very much time to prepare, the little time that it did leave flew by and before I knew it I was in Australia. Coming here has been an experience beyond my wildest dreams. With this trip we got a taste of many different landscapes and cultures of Australia. We experienced the city life in Melbourne, the town life of Mildura, and of course the remarkable outback. While we spent the majority of this trip photographing, I have come to the realisation that capturing the beauty of this land is near impossible. Nothing can compare being here. When planning this trip I came across a quote said by the Dalai Lama: 'Once a year go someplace that you have never been before,' this trip definitely met this goal. The Edge of the Outback program has been an amazing experience and I would suggest it to anyone looking for something new and exciting.

Meg Thedford

I knew my adventure to Australia would change me. I would not go back to North Carolina the same woman. What I did not realise how much the edge of the Outback program would change me. Each place I visited, I didn’t just leave a piece of me behind, but also received a gift of knowledge of a place and culture that I knew nothing about before coming. It’s hard to pick one of the places that changed me the most because I learned so much traveling from Flinders Rangers to Broken Hill. Peter, Neil, Dan, Krystal, and Danielle all changed me as well through their encouragement, critiques, and suggestions during out trip to the outback. They all make it really hard for me to leave the land down under. This has been one of my best adventures ever and leaving Australia will be one of the most bittersweet moments I will have ever experienced. This is not goodbye, but a see you later because I know I will be back to Australia in the future.

Melissa Reilley

When I had to make the sudden change of where I wanted to travel for my very first study abroad trip, I had a slight panic that Australia was not going to be the best fit. But now that the three weeks is over, I am able to say with confidence that I would never trade my adventure here for anything else in this world. The Edge of the Outback program is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am the type of person that constantly craves new experiences and getting on a plane to take me 20 hours away from home was defiantly something new for me. Although Australia appears to be rock, rock, and more rock, every place we went on our eight day field trip had its own charm and beauty. My favorite place was Mutawintji National Park because it felt like a huge camping trip. Everyone pulled together to make dinner, we sat around fires and just enjoyed each others company away from the normal busy life. Personally, I think that we saw Australia in the best way because we were able to see it through a lens. It was incredible to see the photographs when we returned to Mildura and notice how even though we went to the same exact places, none of us captured it in the same exact way. This program has helped me as a photographer and as a nomad. Australia has given me a taste of the world beyond Michigan and I consider it the greatest beginning.

Ty Anderson

The Edge of the Outback program will always be a great highlight in my life that I will never forget. The individuals I have met and befriended have become close to me in theses past three weeks and I hope to keep in contact with them after our Australian journey. Not only have our teachers, but also my fellow students have taught me loads about photography. I first started this course knowing nothing about shooting manual on a D-SLR, but I quickly learned with everyone’s help. As my skills at composing a good photo improved so did the trip all the way to the peak of St. Mary’s. Traditions, locals, locations, and cuisine are very different in what most Americans view as a similar county. The small towns we visited and the gorges we trekked though provided unique atmosphere that I couldn’t find anywhere else in the world.

Christine Dong

Before I begin, I would like to warn you: what you are about to read is very sentimental and corny.  There simply aren’t any other ways to describe the amazing experience that I’ve had, which, unfortunately, is coming to a close.

I knew when I decided to study abroad that I wanted to find a course that would enable me to try something new.  Considering that I’d never been to Australia, I’d never traveled on my own, and I’d never studied photography, needless to say, I succeeded. I now know how to operate a DSLR camera and shoot on manual mode, I’ve seen the Southern Hemisphere night sky, I’ve eaten kangaroo meat, I’ve visited ancient sacred spiritual sites, and so much more!  I’ve met people here that I’m sure I’ll be friends with for a long time, and many more that I will never forget.  To have had the opportunity to see the things I’ve seen and do the things I’ve done over the past three weeks… This has been an intense and challenging experience, but one that has been completely and absolutely worth it.

The pictures I’ve posted are of mud cracks at Mutawintji National Park, and our cultural guide, Peter Peterson, offering a clementine slice to a kangaroo at Wilpena Pound. He didn’t want the slice.