Free Birds Fly / Kaitlin Morley

It’s 4:30 a.m. in Budapest and I am awake. I want to close my bedroom window to try and drown out the sound of the birds chirping. But if I do this, I won’t have any air coming into my room. Somewhere in this hour of being restless and awake I feel calm. Yes this bird’s song is keeping me awake but after two days of travel to a country across the world, I simply feel at home.

You see; my mom loves the breeze in the spring and summertime. She loves the way our drapes dance around the living room as she sits on the beige love seat drinking her coffee. More importantly, she loves the song the mourning dove brings. A song so distinct I swear it’s been ingrained in my brain ever since I was a little girl.

I used to beg her to turn on the air-conditioning. But as a trade off, we would lose the song. It took me being thousands of miles away with no access to air-conditioning for me to realize just how important that bird is to me. Of course, it is not the same songs the birds in New Jersey sing, however it is new. Just like my journey to Budapest. New.

Birds are just like us. Travelers. Foreigners. I can spend hours on this deck wondering where this cheerful bird came from and what he is trying to say. There’s a language barrier between us, like the Hungarians and me however we find a way to communicate. I know when the birds are distressed and mad, their song gets harsh and strong. I know when they are happy and calm, their song gets sweet. I know the Hungarians are being welcoming to us, their eyes are smiling and their gestures soft.

It’s funny how one thing like a chirping bird can bring me right back home. If I close my eyes I can feel my soft sheets and puffy duvet hugging me in my bed in New Jersey. I can hear the morning dove singing to my mom as she sips her coffee.

Its moments like these that overwhelm me in the calmest of ways. It takes away that feeling of angst and homesickness that most people get when they travel. Instead, when I have a busy day of exploring and I am unwinding I go outside at dusk and hear that bird. I see that bird. Sitting on top of the rustic building right across from me. It’s small. It’s just one bird in such a big place. But it can carry a melody that reaches all of the surrounding apartment complexes.


Birds are just like us. Travelers. Foreigners.


I am one small person in such a big place. But that’s the beauty of life. That’s the beauty of travel. We are all small people in big places just waiting to sing our song. We want to tell the locals about America and we want the locals to tell us about their country.

I am one person in a group of twelve students traveling abroad. We all have different sentiments that bring us back to our home. For Brooke it’s running on Margaret Island. For Jessica, it’s cooking her favorite dishes in the apartment. For Junpeng it’s walking on the historic street because it brings his peace. For Clara Ruth it’s living in a close-knit apartment that reminds her of our community in Waco.

I love all of those things that my peers enjoy. But it’s just something about the birds in Budapest keeping me awake at 4:30 a.m.

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