Attending an academic conference or workshop with fellow students from across the globe is one of the most authentic reasons for you to travel as a student, and not just a student, cause in whatever sphere of life you find yourself working, if you check properly you’ll find workshops and seminars where people who have similar interests come together to share knowledge and network. Really, you name it, art,medicine, engineering, business workshops, cooking, music, bloggers…the list goes on.
It’s a win win however you look at it.
- You get to leave you comfort zone, school, workplace- have a small vacation
- Its a learning experience- academically
- You get to meet and network with like minded persons from elsewhere
- you get to experience a new system, culture, new food (some pat of it)
- You get to add something new to your cv/resume
Perhaps you can guess now, why the entry post is titled half and half. I tried combining a medical conference, with touring of Leiden and The Hague.
I attended the Leiden International Medical Student Conference last year, popularly known as LIMSC, what a privilege it was to be there, that was my first medical conference ever. The cheapest accommodation I could find was in The Hague, so I opted to stay there. So I stayed in Haag (Den Haag a.k.a The Hague), while commuting to Leiden which was about 30 minutes away by train. This trip was even more beautiful because I was with a friend. 🙂
Actually we had to cater to our accommodation since this was a late booking, but I’ve seen that for many conferences if you register on time, you could request for accommodation which might be cheaper than staying in a hotel/hostel.
You shouldn’t bother about your understanding of the Dutch language, most Dutch people speak English and getting around was pretty easy even without asking for directions.
The conference was great, listening to fellow colleagues from other medical universities present their research, that was motivating and it was good to learn a bit about the dutch medical system from a few workshops and lectures that were presented.
Eindhoven airport was more convenient for me to travel by, I traveled via wizzair and the prices were affordable too. Getting to the Hague was quite easy too, Airport Bus to Eindhoven Central Station- Train ride to the Hague Central station. Just a little tip for your trip in the Netherlands, the machines may not always receive cash, so have some money in your bank card too.
So we attended just two days of the conference, Friday and Saturday, and in between long enough breaks, we went sightseeing. The University is close to the train station, the train station is just minutes away from the Tourist Information Center. Really helpful, there you can get a map, a few written guides and ask any questions you may have about Leiden.
If you are a museum fan, Leiden is filled with museums of all sorts, we could only manage three, between Friday and Saturday and they were all really insightful. Three museums were more than enough. Most of the museums are within walking distance so, you just need a map to go from place to place.
De Valk windmill Museum
Windmills were major power houses for a lot of places back in the day and Netherlands was one of those places. I am sure 70% of what I know about windmills came from my visit to this museum. So in brief words, its a record of the history the dutch have with windmills. Yes, do visit here, if you find yourself in Leiden.
National Museum of Ethnology
This was good. They had exhibitions from Africa, Asia, North America. It’s a great place to take a quick glimpse at the arts and culture of different peoples. There was a special Geisha exhibition at the time I was there, that was quite interesting.
Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Its as the name implies, there were numerous displays of fossils, plants, animals, minerals. Its a great place for passing away time and learning at the same time. I didn’t care so much for the animal exhibits, except for the rare ones, but the minerals, that was just awesome, cause there were many that I had only seen in pictures or read about somewhere and there they were. Good place to visit, also you only pay half price if you’re a student.Yes!
Below, you can see two of the pictures I took of these minerals, somehow I didn’t take more.
The city of Leiden has about 28 kilometres of canals, that’s a lot of water. I could only enjoy the views of the canals. If you find yourself there, do try a boat tour.
The Dutch and Bicycles
You know what else Leiden and the Hague have in abundance? bicycles. Netherlands is known as the bicycle center of the world. I met a friend on the train who lived in Hague and worked in Leiden, so he had two bicycles, one took him from his home in Hague to the Hague central train station and when he arrived Leiden, the second bicycle which was parked at the train bicycle parking lot, took him to his place of work.
pretty amazing eh, Netherlands is the only country I’ve been to so far, that has roads for bicycles, I mean not just paths on which a bicycle sign is drawn but actual special roads for the bicycles. Pretty awesome, even I would get a bicycle and then learn how to ride it. People get to exercise and there’s less pollution from less buses or cars.
Finally the Hague, where I spent the nights. Yes, there weren’t any visits to the museums in the Hague. So, What to do in the Hague?
Visit the Hague Tower
Yes! if you don’t do anything else while in the Hague, this should be enough. The building has 42 floors, its the tallest building in the Netherlands, which is accessible to the public, yope you and me. There’s also a restaurant (The Penthouse) on the top floor and a sky bar, from where you could dine and wine while enjoying the view of the city. And the elevator is a glass elevator, oh my goodness! it was a really cool experience. The views from my camera, are a cry for help, haha, but just to give you a bit of an idea, of what it was like.
Actually, there was no plan to visit China town. It was only stumbled upon it, while trying to find other places and it sure was worth the trouble. It wasn’t so crowded though, it wasn’t at all, that’s how you know you aren’t actually in China. Perhaps, because this was still early morning, way before noon.
This was such a hassle to find. actually, The peace Palace houses the International Court of Justice and other bodies/parastatals. Its enoug to remember the ICJ. Actually the Peace Palace is open on some weekends in the year to the public, if you”’ like to go in you need to research that some more here
Shop in the City Centre
There’s everything and every shop, and all price ranges. Very colorful and lively place. The shops close early though, 8 pm I think, seriously what is that?
I had issues with food, I mean I had American, Japanese, Thai, Indian/Turkish but no dutch food. I had stroop wafel, but that’s a snack, they sure do have a lot of sweets and appetizers, but no main dishes I could experience. Perhaps my time there was really too short. I should visit again.
The palace pictured above, is one of the three official palaces of the Dutch Royal family, according to wikipedia. Once again, stumbled upon while trying to find Peace Palace
That’s it basically, three nights and two days in the Netherlands, coupling a conference with some sightseeing. Hope you had fun reading. Let me know what you think. Cheers ^^^