the meeting

The world is divided in sections. Each section is, subsequently, subdivided in several smaller sections. Yet most of the times these partitions are invisible to the naked eye. EUTIC is one of these sections. One formed by over 130 members. I was lucky enough to be allowed into one of their meetings.
They congregate every Thursday night at 18.30 for their general meetings.
On 22nd November, I became one of them. Only for one night.
I met with my friend, an active member of EUTIC, sharp at 18.00 for a quick coffee at Nicholson Street in Edinburgh. She was excited for having me there. She told me I was going to enjoy the session because that night there were two outside speakers holding it. I had my doubts, though. She informed me that whenever an outsider does the talking, there is a drinking session afterwards only for members, but I could be her guest for the night. And, still, not even the promise of free alcohol made the meeting more appealing to me. I committed a big mistake: I had checked EUTIC website earlier on that day and I knew precisely what I could expect from that night. And it was not something of my choice.
By 18.25 we were sitting in a newly decorated room, much brighter than I had ever expected and, actually, quite welcoming.
We were surrounded by about 100 people, mostly in their 20s, the vast majority of them students from the University of Edinburgh. There was not a delimitated pattern of origin nor gender. The room was a mixture of white, black, Asian population and men and women in similar proportions.
They were all dressed in rather informal clothes which, to be honest, was a disappointment to me. I hoped for some special clothes, some sort of visual mark of distinction that would permit a clear distinction between the EUTIC members and the rest of the world. But, once again, my expectations had been broken and, with them, some of my prejudices. But worry not because I had more of them. We all have.
The speakers were introduced as Simon Bronzier from Schroders and Adam Birdwell for Investec. And I think that was the last bit of information I was able to obtain. The following hour became a blur of figures, odd-sounding nouns, verbs I could not relate to any physical action, and an uncountable amount of superlative adjectives and obscure adverbs.
I was terrified by my ignorance, but I was even more worried by the fact that I was the only one lost in translation. Around me, there were only faces of agreement, interest and understanding.
I looked at my friend and she was scribbling some figures on her notepad, underlining some of them, drawing stars next to others. She glanced at me and smiled. I tried to smile back at her but, when I found the strength, she was already busy listening again to the speaker.

Sitting on that lecture theatre, facing a boring speaker, memories of my time at High School came back. I pictured myself trying to overcome a strong need for sleep in the morning classes. I rememberd wondering why I had to read maths if I was more inclined towards the magic if words rather than the structured logic of numbers. I remembered staring at the blackboard asking myself what was the point of discovering the value of “x”.
On that day of November, while I was looking at my friend not knowing her anymore, I was wondering what was the meaning of “pitching” and what was the difference between a red 0,018 and a green 0,018.
The amount of data received was overwhelming. My complete lack of interest on it did not help me to ejoy the experience. But my friend did, and so did most of those present that night. They were mostly Business students (like my friend), but some of them were there because they were interested on that day’s topic: investment. A not very surprising topic considering that EUTIC stands for Edinburgh University Trade and Investment Club.

It lasted only an hour, but it felt like several to me. After the session, and running towards the free-drinks table, I was still amazed by my friend. I thought I knew her, yet those details of her life came as a puzzling finding. She enjoyed the meeting. She found it extremely useful for her career and I envied her for having such strong and clear opinions. In fact, I envied most of the people there. They were all students like me, most of them younger than me and, still, they knew what they wanted to do with their lives better than I do. When I went to talk to some of them —a couple of glasses of cheap white wine later— I was appaled by their determination and their ambition. They seemed a different breed of people. They were so eager to finish university and move into the real world that I, who had been in the so-called real world for a while, was tempted to warn them about the decadent reality waiting out of the protective walls of university, but I said nothing: everyone should be allowed to dream.
They were extremely focused and willing to learn. Some of them told me that they learn more from these meetings than the actual lectures because that was real, the speakers were real people working on that field. It was not just about listening to someone, but rather interacting with similar people in order to help each other.
They all agreed that EUTIC was doing an excellent job. It does not only organise the Thursday meetings, but it also arranges recruitment events in association with investment banks where the members of the Club have the opportunity to establish a network of contacts as well as gaining some work experience.

Skipping the anodyne bits (the actual lecture), the night turned out to be an interesting experience, a chance to talk to some people I would have never been able to meet otherwise. The speciallized construction of our society divides people according to their abilities and interests. This separation sometimes become so extreme that we just do not understand each other anymore. We express ourselves on the specific terms of our trade and we can only be understood by those sharing the same jargon. Hence, we become divided and we just socialise with those who can make sense of what we are saying. This is the paradox of the communication age. I tried to explain that to my friend but, then, she was the one staring at me as if I were a stranger.

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