Practical Information

The venue of the 29th ISCOMS will be the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG).

The UMCG is the only university medical center in the northern part of the Netherlands, and therefore the final point of referral for many patients. Patients go to the UMCG for basic care as well as highly specialist, top clinical and top reference care, such as organ transplantation, complex neurosurgery, neonatology, clinical genetics, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), pediatric oncology, renal dialysis and traumatology. All medical specialties are represented, as well as educational programmes for all medical disciplines.

The eight Dutch university medical centers, like the UMCG, have been appointed to render this top reference care. However, not every disease can be cured. That is why the UMCG devotes much attention to chronic diseases, pain relief, and palliative care. After an illness or accident, rehabilitation is often necessary. The UMCG also provides this service. Research and development are combined with many years of practical experience in the Center for Rehabilitation.

City inside a city

With more than 10.000 employees and 1.339 beds, the UMCG is one of the largest hospitals in the Netherlands. It is sometimes called “a city inside a city”, because of the architecture. The hospital is like a tiny city, with its own streets with a glass ceiling above which can open during warm days and “houses” which are actually different hospital sections; nursing units and outpatients’ clinics. The hospital also has a shopping street with bookstores, national banks and gardens. All in order to make patients feel less aware of being in a hospital and feel more at home. The idea of a city-like hospital has led to make the UMCG a hospital that is very unique in Europe.

Groningen Transplantation Centre

The UMCG established the Groningen Transplantation Centre in 2012 and is one of the very few hospitals worldwide and the one and only hospital in the Netherlands that performs all organ transplantations. This does not only concern kidney-, heart-, lung-, liver-, and small bowel transplantation, but also combined organ transplantation, such as heart-lung, lung-liver, and liver-kidney transplantation. The UMCG annually performs over 300 organ transplantations. Apart from organ transplantations, also skin-, thin bowel-, heart valve, cornea-, bone- and bone marrow transplantations are done at the UMCG.

Trauma Center

The UMCG is one of ten recognised trauma centers in the Netherlands. It has all the necessary specialties and facilities at its disposal to immediately treat patients from serious traffic accidents, work-related accidents or violent crimes. In addition, the UMCG has its own trauma helicopter. The UMCG’s catchment area covers one-third of the Netherlands. Moreover, many locations are remote and difficult to reach. Therefore, a helicopter is indispensable in getting the specialised medical team, the Mobile Medical Team (MMT), quickly to the scene of an accident. The MMT consists of consultants who can anaesthetise patients on the spot and are capable of performing small surgical procedures. The trauma helicopter is especially equipped for accident victims. For them, quick, high-quality treatment is crucial.


Hanzeplein 1
9700 RB Groningen
The Netherlands

The UMCG is located in the center of Groningen. It can easily be reached by bike, car and public transport.

For more information please visit the website of the UMCG.

The city of Groningen is the location of ISCOMS. This city lies in the northern part of the Netherlands. The city is proudly known to be a “student city” and is therefore a perfect location for a student congress.


With a population of 200.000 inhabitants, Groningen is the economic and cultural capital of the north of the Netherlands. The city boasts a large academic hospital, the UMCG, where ISCOMS will take place. It also has several theatres and museums, many art galleries, bookshops and an excellent range of markets, shops and restaurants with foods from all over the world. Groningen is a culturally diverse city that has hosted many musical and theatrical events.
Groningen is also industrially successful; it has the largest natural gas field in Western Europe and one of the largest worldwide. It has the world’s largest sugar factory and one of the Netherlands’ largest shipbuilding centers.

Moreover Groningen is also renowned for being the most bicycle-friendly city in the Netherlands. The suburbs are connected to the city by special bicycle routes. Secure bicycle parking facilities are available everywhere in the city and it is a priority of the city council’s environmental policy to free up the city centre for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport.

Another remarkable characteristic of Groningen is its relatively young population. One out of every five people in the city is a student, and more than half the population is younger than 35 years old! This has resulted in a wide range of restaurants, bars, sporting activities, culture and recreation at reasonable prices.

Click here to learn more about Groningen.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands, also known as Holland, is a very small but densely populated country: more than 17 million people live at about 41.000 km2! The Netherlands is geographically located north of Belgium and west of Germany, and on the northwest it borders the North Sea, which gives the country a wonderful and broad shore. Sixty percent of the population lives in the western side of the country, around the flourishing capital Amsterdam; this is also called the Randstad conurbation.

The Netherlands has a rich culture. The Dutch are not just the stereotypical clog-wearing, tulip harvesting, windmill builder which comes to many people’s mind when hearing “Dutch”. Throughout the years the Dutch have grown to become an incredibly modern and international community. However, to fully describe the Dutch culture in words is almost impossible, seeing and meeting the Dutch is of course the best way of getting to know the culture, which is of course another reason to attend ISCOMS.
One thing can definitely be said about the Dutch: they’re very friendly and willing to help and we hope to do our best to keep this image true to you before and during the congress.

More about the Netherlands can be found on:

The spoken language in the Netherlands is Dutch. Although most of the Dutch speak English, knowledge of some basic Dutch can never go amiss! Of course the spoken language at the congress is English, so for ISCOMS comprehension of English, as opposed to Dutch, is essential.

In the Netherlands we have one major airport near Amsterdam called Schiphol Airport. From there on you can travel to Groningen by train. The railway station is located underneath the Arrival Hall. More information about Schiphol Airport can be found at their website:

Arrival at Schiphol Airport

After your arrival at Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam), you have to follow the signs that direct you to the railway station. At the counter, ask for a single-use chip card to Groningen (about 28 euros) and ask when the next intercity-train to Groningen is leaving. The counter is open from 6.30 a.m. till 09.00 p.m. Note that you have to buy a chip card before you enter the train!

The single-use chip card is a paper ticket with that contains a chip inside. If you are not planning on travelling a great deal, the single-use chip card is the best option. This paper chip card can be purchased from an NS ticket machine or a Tickets & Service desk and is valid for all train operators. You do not have to add any credit to this card.

Important! When you travel with a single-use chip card you must check in and out with each train operator through the gates or posts. Otherwise you will have to pay a fine in the train. It’s no problem to check in and out at NS gates without an OV-chipkaart.

The intercity train from Schiphol to Groningen will not always take you directly to Groningen. Make sure you switch trains at Zwolle; otherwise the train will take you to Leeuwarden! You can ask the conductors which train will take you to Groningen.

The train leaves at …:03 and …:33 every hour. Trains leaving at ..:03 will take you directly to Groningen. Trains leaving at …:33 won’t go further than Zwolle; here you will have to switch trains. When you’re in Zwolle, the train to Groningen stops at the other side of the platform!

Please check the website of the Dutch Railway for an up to date train schedule. Fill in ‘from’ Schiphol and ‘to’ Groningen. Fill in the date and time you will be arriving and click ‘Give trip and price’.

In the Netherlands it is common to dress up in a formal way for congresses. During the day the dress code is formal, but during the evening you can dress up casually. Since there is no spare time between the day and evening programme we advise you to bring all your clothes to the congress so that you’ll be able to change your clothes if you want to. You can also wear your suit during the social programme. During the World Wide ISCOMS Night on Thursday the participants of the ISCOMS will be wearing traditional clothes from their home country. At the Post Congress Tour you can wear whatever you want. Take in consideration that you will walk a lot, so that you may need comfortable shoes.

As in most countries in northwest Europe, the weather in the Netherlands can be very variable from day to day, so you can experience all seasons in one day. The nice and shiny weather during the morning can suddenly turn into rain during the afternoon. This means that you have to take the changing weather conditions into account. We advise you to bring some cardigans (or even an umbrella) which you can easily put on and off. In June, the temperature swings between 15 and 25 degrees, but the Dutch strong winds can cause a lower feeling temperature. At night it can be a few degrees colder.

Dutch local time is Central European Summer Time (CEST), which is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

Most train stations have public toilets. Throughout the city they are very scarce. You can use the toilets of café’s and pubs throughout the city. For some you also have to pay (about 50 eurocent). To avoid embarrassing situations, ‘Dames’ stands for ladies and ‘Heren’ stands for men.

Toilet paper is provided and can be thrown in the toilet without causing a clogging. Other materials (like sanitary towels) should not be thrown in the toilet, but in the toilet bin.

The electric current throughout the Netherlands is 220/230 Volts, altering current at 50 cycles per minute. Most plugs are grounded. For appliances of 110 volts, a special transformer is needed.

You can buy all major American, British, French, German, Israeli, Spanish, Turkish, Moroccan and Italian newspapers and magazines at news-stands. You can also find them at the bookshops throughout the cities and at train stations.

Due to their merchandising history, the Dutch community is very internationally oriented. Almost everyone in the Netherlands speaks at least some English. Quite a few people are also able to speak German and/or French. During the congress the spoken language is English.

If you are planning to stay for a while or when you will take part in a ISCOMS Research Fellowship, you can consider to buy a Dutch SIM card. This allows you to call to other ISCOMS participants or Dutch students to a lower cost. You can buy these SIM cards at the supermarket Albert Heijn or at the train station. The ISCOMS organisation is willing to show you the locations on the map.

In the Netherlands it is customary to tip waiters at restaurants. Usually a tip is 5-10% of the bill. Tipping at the pubs and cafes is not common. However, it is not uncommon to tell bartenders or taxi drivers to keep the change, when it is around 1 euro, the same goes for porters.

The currency that is used in the Netherlands is the euro (€). ATM machines can be found at several banks in the citycenter of Groningen, such as:

ABN Amro Bank (Grote Markt 22)
Rabobank (Guldenstraat 12)
SNS Bank (Oude Ebbingestraat 25)
There is one ATM machine at the UMCG, which is located next to the Main Lecture hall.
In shops and stores you can pay cash or with creditcard.
You can change your foreign currencies at GWK Travelex (Stationsplein 21). Their office is at the train station.

Make sure always to take cash with you during the social programme! During the social programme and the Post Congress Tour there is no opportunity to go to the ATM! We advise you not to bring more than €100 cash, due to the risk of pickpocketing and/or losing.

In the Netherlands you are obligated to carry a form of identification on you all the time. This means the authorities (the police) can ask you to show your identification form at any given moment. There is a risk of being fined, if you can’t identify yourself. So make sure always to take your identification form with you!

The Dutch eat three meals a day. Before going to school or work people eat breakfast. Breakfast consists of bread with meat or cheese or yoghurt with cereals and tea, coffee or milk. Around 1 PM it’s lunchtime. During lunch people eat bread with meat or cheese and some fruit with tea, coffee or milk. The Dutch eat dinner around 6 or 7 pm. A typical Dutch meal consists of meat, potatoes and vegetables.

During the congress you need to take care of your own breakfast. When you stay with a student, he or she will provide you with breakfast. Lunch will be held at the congress. If you take part in the social programme we will make sure there will be a delicious dinner waiting for you.

Still hungry? You can buy food at the supermarkets in Groningen, such as:

  • Albert Heijn (Oude Ebbingestraat 19, Nieuwe Ebbingestraat 73, Akerkhof 1 or Brugstraat 14)
  • JUMBO (Beren 85)

When you decide to go out for dinner with a group it’s necessary to make a reservation. Dinner consisting of a main course and dessert will cost you approximately €20.
Tips are not included in the total price. It’s usual to tip the waiter with 5-10% of the total amount.

Tap water is drinkable in the Netherlands.

Pictures taken by our photographer can be used for promotional purposes of ISCOMS. If you would rather not be part of our promotional material, please e-mail the ISCOMS organisation and include a picture of yourself. It is not allowed to take pictures in the UMCG, because of the privacy of the patients.