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When my brother graduated from high school, my parents allowed me to accompany him and his roommate on their graduation trip to Europe. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to tag along and it was a trip I will never forget. My father joined us for the adventure as well.

After flying out of Washington D.C., we began our trip in Amsterdam. We were all very excited, as none of us had ever been to the country.

When we arrived at the airport, we all decided to take a quick picture. I became so caught up with everything that was going on that I completely forgot my suitcase in the middle of the airport and kept walking. Once I realized this, I returned to where I had left it only to find my suitcase completely blocked off by airport officials. After explaining myself and opening up the inside of my suitcase I was allowed to take it and be on my way. It made for a funny start to our trip.

As we made our way to the hotel, we were absolutely fascinated by the number of citizens riding bicycles. They were everywhere! We even saw young infants on riding on the back of a bicycle in a specially designed seat while their mother or father peddled away. There was one point where we passed what initially appeared to be a parking garage. It was to a degree, but as we got closer it turned out to only be for bicycles. There were easily over 1,000 bikes locked up there. It made for a nice change of scenery, as it was something completely different than what we see in the U.S.

The hotel we stayed at was completely different from any hotel we had stayed at before. To get to our room we had to traverse multiple, small staircases even once the elevator took us to the appropriate floor. Once inside the room, there were two beds on the main floor and toward the back of the room there was a ladder that ascended to a loft with two more beds. It was an old hotel, but its feel was so unique that we really enjoyed it.

After taking naps to recover from the jetlag, we set out for food. All the people we spoke with in Amsterdam were very nice and the locals directed us to some of their favorite places. The menus of restaurants consisted mostly of fish, but had many other types of foods from neighboring European countries. We often sat outside and enjoyed the delicious food as people walked and biked past.

Over the next two days the four of us ventured along the canals in paddleboats and wandered into the different stores, neighborhoods, and museums of the city.

We visited the Van Gogh Museum on the second day. The museum is dedicated to Vincent Van Gogh and his contemporaries, and had many interesting exhibits to accompany their world-renowned artwork. The museum houses the largest collection of Van Gogh painting and drawings in the world. In the same year that we visited (2012), the museum finished with over 1.4 million visitors, making it the 30th most visited museum in the world. The museum was several stories tall and had a wide array of galleries to explore. It was incredible to see so many unique works of art and it made for an exciting day.

During our final day in the city we visited the Anne Frank House. This museum is located on the Prinsengracht canal and is dedicated to Anne Frank, as it was the same house she and her family hid in to avoid Nazi persecution. The house itself was built in 1635 and the museum was later established in 1960. Anne Frank’s father, Otto, moved the spice and gelling companies he worked for into this house. The bottom floor served as the distribution center, spice mill and store front entrance, while the top secretly housed Anne and seven others. The secret annex of the building was concealed on all sides by four surrounding buildings. The total annex is only 500 square feet, but having been inside, it feels much bigger.

Anne and the others lived in the annex for over two years until their location was revealed to Nazi authorities and they were subsequently sent to concentration camps. Otto was the only one of the eight to survive the war.

Walking throughout the annex of the house had an eerie feel for the four of us. The rooms were arranged to replicate their appearances as they were during the 1940s, and it really put the family’s story into perspective. We had all studied Anne Frank in school, but standing in that attic really made the history come full circle. It was amazing that they were able to remain in hiding for so long. Throughout the tour of the house, exhibits frequently had exerts from Anne Frank’s diary where she described her longing to go outside and feel the warmth of the sunshine. It was a desire that was very difficult to imagine for us, but help put into perspective the true danger surrounding her and the others in the annex.

The next day we headed to the airport and were off to Barcelona for the final stage of our journey. The different museums, the canals, the food, and the hospitality of the citizens of Amsterdam made for a wonderful trip! The four of us really enjoyed the time we spent in the city and it is certainly a place I wish to return to in the future!


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    Hello, my name is Matt Robertson. I love developing new skills, helping others and traveling around the world. I’m a very self-driven, competitive and tenacious individual. I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Economics. I now work as an Analyst within Morgan Stanley’s Institutional Equity Sales & Trading Division in New York City.

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    I desired a summer internship in 2013. Read about my accolades and attributes, and check out a video I made to help prospective employers get to know me better.

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