Monthly Archives: August 2015

Plastic Tupperware, Women’s Health, and Toxins (Brief Overview)

It seems like every year there’s a new health scare, with a trend to avoid it. Gluten, gluten free, plastics, BPA free. It’s tedious to find reliable info, so in this article, I’ve read a bunch of stuff for you and boiled it down to this.

Endometriosis
I first heard about not heating plastic tupperware in my internship at The Endometriosis Association in Wisconsin.
Endo is an autoimmune disease that has been increasing exponentially since the 80s. The association raises money to fund scientific studies, searching for causes of the disease. Here’s a pamphlet summarising their research, which basically points to bioaccumulation of toxins in the environment showing up in the womb lining and ruining women’s lives (think, eating fish exposed to industrial biproducts can accumulate in the human body and affect the womb lining).

Web MD
This article on Web MD is great. It has a broad overview of all the  research we have to date. BPAs (similar dioxins that are linked to endo), affect oestrogen production. Scientists are still debating what is a “safe level” of these chemicals, but the fact is that we are all exposed to thses chemicals (in the west) every single day; we all have some in our body.
Adults seem to process them quite quickly, but children are especially susceptible (especially before they are born). It’s difficult to measure your personal daily exposure as legally, manufacturers aren’t required to declare whether there are BPAs in their packaging. One thing that surprised me about the Web MD article was that there are often BPAs in the lining of aluminium cans.

Summary

So, long story short: if I know I’ll be reheating food, I’ll put it in a glass container and pop it in the fridge. And if I know I’ll be taking food on a picnic (and not reheating), I’ll put it in a plastic container (because it’s lighter).  It’s simple, costs me nothing, because I can’t control the toxins in my food and environment.

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Sore Muscles

Bullet points from this Webmd article:
Work outs cause micro abrasions in muscles. Soreness after is a good sign.
DOMS= Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
Warm up. Ease in to your exercises.
Cool down with cardio. That helps your blood stream take away the stiffness chemicals. Stretch. Stay hydrated.
Treatments: ice packs, stretching, massage, heat, ibuprofen
Do: be gentle with yourself. Your muscles are not as strong when you’re recovering.
Don’t: get discouraged

Women: Contraception in Spain

Here’s a compendium of info about birth control in Spain, from my own personal experience, top what my friends/coworkers/doctors have told me.

Contraceptive Pill

Cost=between 4 and 15 euros a month

Brits: Stock up on 12 months of the pill before you leave the UK. You will save between 36e and 180 euros over 12 months

You can easily find the brand name for your pill in Spain. I’ve also been told that you can take your empty pill box to the pharmacy (if you live in Madrid) and they can/will search for the equivalent for you and sell it to you without a prescription. When I lived in Madrid I was told (by a pharmacist) that whether it was sold to you or not without prescription (this goes for the morning after pill as well) depended on how conservative the person was serving you. In the three years I lived in Madrid, I never had any problem whatsoever.

My experience in Bilbao has been that pharmacies that will let you buy the pill without a prescription are few and far between. Not sure if this is due to the Basque Country being more Catholic or just general regulations.

In general, there are two types of pill that are covered on social security, meaning that they are cheap (4e for a months supply). These are Diane ( ) and . All the rest are around 15e a month.

Nuva/Merina Ring

Rough cost per month: 20e

This is a ring you insert into your vagina that releases hormones to stop you ovulating.

IUD

Rough cost for  years:

US citizens living in Spain: Might be covered on your insurance (Mapfre, Sanitas)

Many women are now opting for an IUD (a copper device that is fitted into your uterus that lasts for several years). It’s important to get one fitted a while before you go abroad for your follow up appountment.

Implant

Rough cost for  years:

 

 

Disclaimer: This article is includes my research, opinion and opinions from other women I’ve spoken to. Please consult your doctor.

 

Technology: Phones, Apps, Contracts, and Companies

Going to Spain for a while? Here are some technotips.

  1. Install Whatsapp on your phone

(Almost) everyone uses it here, as many people don’t have phone contracts. It’s also great for keep in contact with your friends at home

2. Get a YOIGO sim

I tried various pay as you go sims, and I like Yoigo because calls are too expensive, their phones are unlocked and relatively cheap (you can buy a two sim card phone NEW for 140e), and their customer service is not completely terrible. You can also pay 7e a month for 3G, which is really useful if you move to a place where internet takes a thousand years to install.

Don’t forget to bring your passport to buy whatever sim card you end up getting; it’s an anti-terror measure here that you can’t buy a phone sim without ID.

3. Bring an extender cable from your country

You can buy travel plugs in Spain, but instead of buying 5 or 6 individual ones for your phone, laptop, hairdryer etc, why not bring an extension cable with you from your country?

Wall>>>travel plug>>>extender cable

>phone

>laptop

>hairdryer

Also, for UK travellers, remember that if you buy electronics in other European countries, you can (usually) shove them in to a British socket by sticking something plastic into the top hole of the plug socket, like this:

plug

I like to use a good old biro lid. It’s the perfect size for opening the safety shutter.

Flights home (and Christmas: BUY FLIGHTS IN AUGUST)

If you’re planning on going home at Christmas… BUY YOUR FLIGHTS NOW, in August, or else pay double.

A) Buy your flights 6 months before (yes, in August)

B) Fly on the 23rd of December at the latest

If there are random volcanoes, strikes, or ice, you won’t get marooned somewhere (there are no trains/buses on Christmas day)

C) Tell your school in your first month when you’re flights are. Offer to make it up.

I worked in a really difficult, uptight school, where we were told that Christmas wasn’t a Spanish holiday and… Basically, be assertive. Don’t let anyone mess with your Christmas with your family.

Best place to buy US flights:

STA travel

If you’re under 26, you can get great deals using this site.

Things you can’t get in Spain (or are expensive/low quality)

Good peanut butter

Stationary (coloured flashcards, thank you cards)

Shampoo and conditioner (there is little tax on wine, beer, and cigarettes, but cosmetic items are more expensive)

Socks

Anti-histamines (only on prescription)

Teriyaki Sauce

Hamburger Helper

Spice blends (Chinese Five Spice) Note: You may be able to find spices in specific neighbourhoods where non-Spanish people live. In Madrid, many corner shops have a great range of spices for South Asian food.

 

Women:

Hair cuts (Spanish hair dressers tend to chop a lot off)

Sport’s bras (buy an extra at Target/New Look)

 

Things that may be cheaper:

Fruit and veg

Contraceptive pill/merina ring/nuva ring/IUD (some are 4e a month, others are 15e a month)

Care Packages from Outside of the EU

Make sure the sender fills out the customs form properly, or you will have to pay 40e at your end 😦