A Whole Lotta Drinkin’ Going On


When you’re immersed in a foreign culture & don’t speak the language, it can be difficult to make friends outside your circle of faculty acquaintances. If, additionally, you’re living on a school-housing compound with nothing much to do & miles away from a lot more of the same, you’re sure to feel isolated.  If this sounds like a good reason to mix up a few after-school drinks with new found faculty friends, you’re not alone.

Teachers report they do drink more overseas compared to back home. The question is, how much more? One teacher tells us her high school students make bets on which teacher will come in the most “wasted” on Monday morning. We’d like to think, however, that this is the exception.

Pakistan, Qatar, Kuwait & other desert countries with little to do (that is, if you’re not passionate about sand dunes &/or shopping) impose bans on alcoholic beverages. You’d think drinking in these locations would be at a minimum. Fortunately, or unfortunately, Western expats can obtain a “license” to buy alcoholic beverages sold at government-run stores. Although the government hooch usually tastes like paint thinner, top-brand alcoholic beverages confiscated from incoming travelers also finds its way into these stores & is sold under the table by agents “supplementing” their incomes. Teachers in the Middle East tell us their schools are party central for fully stocked drinking parties.

It may well be that the level of drinking among colleagues overseas is more or less the same as that back home, with the difference being that overseas you’re more aware of what colleagues are doing outside school. We’ve heard some overseas schools referred to as “alcohol drenched,” “big drinking culture” & “shooter central.” If my school back in the States fit this description it was certainly well hidden from me, but we wonder what the situation seems like for International educators.

We invite you take our short Survey & rate the level of alcohol consumption at your international school on a scale of 0 – 5. Think of 0 as being “no drinking going on” & 5 as “let it flow, flow flow.”

Please scroll down to Share what’s going on at YOUR school.
Feel free to name your school if the “spirit” so moves you – pun intended!


Alcoholic in the Room Next Door?

drinking45647596Without a doubt, life overseas can be lonely at times. Being single at a small school, especially, may lead to feelings of isolation & possibly the need for a “little something” to lean on. Likewise, teachers may be tempted to “wash” away the stress & strain of a week at school if they’re in a party town where bars, clubs & cheap liquor are the norm or the only opportunity to socialize.

We all enjoy a drink off-and-on, be it wine, beer or spirits. But when liquor starts to affect teaching & on-the-job performance, there’s a problem. ISR is dotted with Reviews that complain of teachers who drink to excess & the effect this has on the teacher &/or their school.

We recently spotted the topic of alcohol on the ISR Forum. To expand the discussion, we’ve transplanted the topic to you, our Newsletter readers. Here’s the original post:

“At my current school, a disproportionate number of my colleagues seem to have very serious drinking problems. I’ve heard stories from teachers at other schools about colleagues who enjoying drinking quite a bit, but at this school it really seems to be a very big problem. Since it’s a small school and not easy to just distance yourself, I looked up Alcoholics Anonymous to see if there is a local chapter. No. These teachers seem like decent people, but their behavior – both outside and inside of school – seems to be effected by their alcoholism and its associated problems.
Has anyone experienced anything similar and have you seen it dealt with in an effective way, either by the individuals themselves or by administrators? I am seriously expecting to walk in some morning and hear that one of them is dead . . . it’s that bad.”

Whether you’ recognize this trend in yourself, a colleague, or simply hoping to realign your school environment toward a healthier situation, what can you do when confronting the dark reality of alchohol abuse? Should you mind your own business, look the other way? Or, face possible ostracism by finding a way to bring help to others, even yourself? The international teaching community, or maybe even the teacher sitting right next to you may be seeking answers to just this question. Go to Blog

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