How A Foreign Exchange Student Taught Me To Open My Heart To Friendship

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“In one of my management classes I sit in the same seat in the front every day. Every single day I sit there.

Now, I also sit next to some foreign guy that barely speaks English. The most advanced thing I’ve heard this guy say in English is ‘Wow, my muffin is really good.’

This guy also has a habit of stacking every item he owns in the exact space I sit.

His bag, his food, his books, and his phone are ALWAYS right on my desk space.

Now, every single time I walk into class this guy says, ‘Ah, Tom. You here. Okay.’ And starts frantically clearing my desk of his belongings.

He then makes it a habit to say, ‘Ready for class, yeah?’ And gives me a high five.

Every day this guy gives me a high five.

I was ALWAYS annoyed with this guy.

I’m thinking, ‘Dude, you know I sit in this seat every day. Why are you always stacking your sh*t here? And the last thing I want to do is give a guy who barely speaks my language high fives at 8 in the morning.’

Just get your sh*t off my desk.

But today I came to class and was running a few minutes late. I’m standing outside because I had to send a quick text.

I could see my usual space through the door out of the corner of my eye.

Of course, my desk was filled with his belongings. The usual.

As I’m standing there on my phone, another guy who was also late, walks into the class before me and tried to take my seat since it’s closest to the door.

The foreign guy who always sits next to me stops this dude from sitting down and says, ‘I’m sorry. My good friend Thomas sits here.’

It was then that I realized this guy wasn’t putting stuff on my seat to annoy me. He was saving me the seat every morning.

And this whole time he saw me as a friend, but I was too busy thinking about myself to take him into consideration.

Cheesy as it sounds, I was touched.

The guy moved here from the Middle East to pursue a college education in America. He plans to go back after he gets his degree.

He’s got two kids and a wife. He works full time and sends all his left over money back home to his wife.

I asked him how he liked America as well. He said he misses his family but it’s exciting to be here.

He also said, ‘Not every American is nice to me like you are, Tom.’

I bought lunch, of course. Dude deserves it.

He gave me a high five for buying lunch. Gotta keep up tradition.

Moral of the story? Don’t do what I do and constantly only think about yourself.

It took me nearly the entire semester to get my head out of my ass and realize this guy was just trying to be my friend.

Better late than never I suppose.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Thomas McFall. You can follow him on Twitter. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best love stories.

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