Alumni Spotlight: Caley Presby


Give us a little intro!

Caley: I am a Human Biology major from Portland, Maine. I'm slightly obsessed with my hometown and didn't realize how much I would miss it until I went abroad. I love hockey, rugby, and I play lacrosse for the University of Southern Maine.

What do you wish someone had told you before you went abroad?

Caley: Before I went abroad I wish someone told me that there are varying degrees of homesickness and culture shock. In comparison to some of my roommates I wasn't even the slightest bit homesick. My mum would call or text about if I missed her and if I missed home, and I did, but I didn't at the same time.

I missed my family, but if they were all in Scotland I wouldn't have missed home at all. I was sad that I missed my nieces growing up so much in four months, they are 2 and 8 months now. I fell in love with Scotland and Edinburgh the moment I walked off that plane and into the airport. No place has ever quite felt so much like home so quickly.

I would go back and build a life there as soon as possible. I honestly cannot express how happy I was and how quickly I got over and homesickness. I wasn't homesick. I could still talk to my family and friends and explore the world. I loved every minute of it and I almost felt guilty about not being homesick. There are different ways in which people react to being away from home and I was someone who was almost grateful to have the opportunity.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

Caley: My favorite story to tell about my time abroad is about a trip that I took with a couple of friends up through the Highlands of Scotland to the Isle of Skye. It's not particularly a funny story, or a poignant one, but it encompasses everything I wanted to see in Scotland.

We had an amazing tour guide who was a quintessential Scotsman; the kilt, the thick accent, the ability to tell stories for hours, and the instantaneous charm that had all the women on our tour flocking to his side. Graeme was his name and he along with the amazing scenery of the Isle of Skye made that short trip, the best we had taken.

I traveled to Rome, London, Amsterdam, and Dublin, but Skye was a completely different animal. I was so at peace and so humbled by the beauty of Skye that I don't know if I can express how amazed I was. My sophomore year of high school I did a watercolor shadow painting of Eilean Donan Castle, which is on the gateway to the Isle of Skye and I was able to visit that castle during this trip. Skye was my favorite part of my study abroad experience.

What made this experience unique and special?

Caley: The people I met and hung out with made this trip the best that it could possibly have been. Four of us became instant friends. And at this point we have been apart for a little over a month and we are already planning on when we are getting back together and whose city we are going to be visiting first. It's amazing to go to a country and not know anyone but to have instant friends that first day.

I know not everyone will have the luck that I did but it's honestly worth it to go without a friend because you have to open yourself up and you'll make some of the deepest and truest connections with other people when you do. I had other roommates who came with people they knew from school and they never made friends outside of the people that they already knew. Push your comfort zone. If you're afraid to go alone, just take the plunge and do it. You won't regret it, I swear.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Caley: To anyone going through CIS to Scotland Jeanna Brady is the greatest resource you have if you truly want to experience Scottish culture. She was our program contact in Edinburgh and she runs the CIS Scotland Facebook page. Don't brush her off. She is a completely genuine and wonderful human being. I wish I had spent more time with her.

She got us tickets to the Ceilidh Club at Summerhall and it was just a bunch of people twirling around a room and traditional Scottish music and the wonderful bagpipes. It was one of my favorite nights in Edinburgh. If you have any questions about anything, she is absolutely wonderful. Also make sure you try haggis! I loved it.