Goesan: Out On The Town

Goesan (괴산) is home to a small town within walking distance with a number of shops, markets, bars and restaurants and other stores. Since we have arrived, we have done a lot of exploring of the area. We explored on market on the second day and have walked into town a number of times to buy food (since the cafeteria food has become so repetitive) and other small gifts.

With the passing if our first weekend in Korea, we have also enjoyed going out to a few of the local bars and restaurants. A few of us went out on Friday night looking for a place to eat. We settled on a small place serving Korean BBQ (where you cook the meat yourself on the table grill). While I have had Korean BBQ a few times in NYC in K-town, I can proudly say this is my first authentic Korean BBQ and it was delicious. (Of course, I think anything that isn’t cafeteria food is made by God Himself). View full post »

Dad - 3 pepper men? Having my coffee reading your post, then off th Cronin’s. Rained hard here last night. Went to Birthday party in Saratoga last night. The town was packed . The track is open. We are going to the orchestra soon there.

Love you.

T - Cara FYI Soju is sold in the US I discovered it years ago when my Korean intern got me some. He went to Ktown in NJ to buy it. Did you have the cheap kind in the juice box or the upscale stuff. Very smooth. Loving your blog.


Cara - Haha, I know it’s sold in K-town, but hasn’t proliferated to mainstream USA…. Haha! Thanks! Yes it is very smooth. It’s sometimes cheaper than iced tea!!!

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Exploring Jungwon University

In my one of previous posts, I wrote a small intro on Jungwon University (중원대학교). However, I finally had the time to do more exploring!

Jungwon University is set in the idyllic lush rural countryside of Korea and for six weeks is the home of the Fulbright Orientation. Situated in Goesan, it is about two hours south of Seoul. The view from my 10th floor window of the valley and surrounding mountains is very beautiful through all the range of weather that we have seen. In the morning the fog is heavy and the scene is very peaceful with the rising mist and green mountains in the background.


The view from my room of the mountains – early morning (5:00am)


The view from my room of the mountains – Sunset

View full post »

Dad - Maybe Dennis Murray was behind the construction withe the fieldstone. I see you are already putting your camera to good use.

Luv ya

Weekend in Sokcho!!! » Cara Mooney Photography - […] past weekend we had a retreat from our normal orientation at Jungwon University and took a bus north to the city of Sokcho. It is in the northern coastal city known for its fresh […]

Hiking in Seoungrak National Park » Cara Mooney Photography - […] past weekend we had a retreat from our normal orientation at Jungwon University and took a bus north to the city of Sokcho (previous post). The city is only a 20 minute bus ride […]

Hiking in Seoraksan National Park » Cara Mooney Photography - […] past weekend we had a retreat from our normal orientation at Jungwon University and took a bus north to the city of Sokcho (previous post). The city is only a 20 minute bus ride […]

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Schools, Teacher Training & The Korean Education System


High school visit

School Visit

The other day we all spit up into groups and visited schools (elementary, middle, and high) of former ETAs and had the opportunity to see them teaching in action. Everyone had already been split into whether or not they wish to teach in an elementary school or secondary school. Apparently, I had selected secondary school as my preference on my application, although I forgot.  It doesn’t mean that we will definitely get that level school, but it is more likely. It just depends on what the needs of the Board of Education are. Since I showed my preference for secondary, I was apart of the group that visited the secondary schools and saw a high school.


One of the classrooms

We spent the day at a Korean high school that is also attached to the middle school. The high school is a boarding school, which suited the students’ rigorous study environment (Note: Korea is a very high pressure academic environment and in high school the main focus of students is to study for their national college entrance exam). Although it is a co-ed school, the classrooms are segregated into girls and boys. We spent the day observing two girls classes (one sophomore class and one junior class). View full post »

Daf - I look forward to ready your almost daily blog. It’s like reading the newspaper and I get to view into your world.

Thanks so much


Soccer, Taekwondo, and Other Clubs » Cara Mooney Photography - […] Early into our first week we had gotten a census of how many people were interested in playing soccer. Somehow, I ended up being the person to organize everything, suggesting one afternoon that we go outside and play. I haven’t played soccer in almost four years, and I think I had forgotten how much fun it was. The game we played was a highlight of my week. I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of skill I have retained from all the years of soccer training. I was also worried that some people might be too intense, especially the guys, (as in my experience in college, playing co-ed at this age can be a little rough), but everyone was very respectful of people’s skills and limitations. This was not to say it did not get intense at times, or that a there were not a few scrapes and bruises. No one was outright aggressive like they were at college, taking advantage of another player’s inexperience in soccer or shoving people out of the way. We’re trying to get more games together and seeing where they fit in between intensive language class and other workshops and teacher training. […]

A Day in the Life of a Native English Teacher in Korea » Cara Mooney Photography - […] go to hagwon, or cramm academies for extra tutoring in various subjects, as I have mentioned in a previous post. Sometimes they stay as late as 10 or 11pm. High schoolers have been known to go to hagwon until as […]

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Do you know Korean? – Language Classes


Fulbright Korea Language Ceremony

Opening Korean Language Ceremony

당신은 한국어를 알고 계십니까?? Do you know Korean? One of my reasons for coming to Korea was to learn the language. It is one of my goals to be conversational by the time my year is up with Fulbright. I am starting from zero knowledge of Korean, so lets see how far I get! The photo above is of myself (can you find me?) and all the other Korea Fulbright ETAs of which there are 70 of us! In the front row are our language teachers from Korea University who are teaching us for the next four weeks.

My Story on 인사 (Insa)

This means “greeting” in Korean. It encompasses the bowing and verbal greetings (as usually this is done at the same time). The bows ranges from the friendly head nod to the deep 90° bow which is used to show the utmost respect and is very formal. Bowing has become an integral part of my day and I think I have gotten better at how to bow and when to bow and the various verbal greetings and levels of formality that go along with it all, but it’s still early….

Today, a very amusing thing happened! I was walking with two friends around the campus to explore and take photos (see the next blog!) when we came upon a mother with her two sons and daughter playing together. It was very cute. The children were pretty young; maybe two to five years old. View full post »

Oopa - Your blog gives me a great feel for how busy and challenging this will be. That was a cute story of the mom and her kids. I can picture you smiling. Looking forward to more pics.
Thanks hon.

OOma - I expect tobe bowed to from here on in! Love you! Found you right away you are remarkable!!

Soccer, Taekwondo, and Other Clubs » Cara Mooney Photography - […] out of the way. We’re trying to get more games together and seeing where they fit in between intensive language class and other workshops and teacher […]

Hiking in Seoungrak National Park » Cara Mooney Photography - […] looking as Korean as I do…Haha). We were able to do basic introductions and greetings (yay, Korean language class paying off!). One guy gave us all a peeled cucumber and throughout the entire hike, we would pass […]

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Welcome to Jungwon University: Fulbright Orientation


The banner welcoming the Fulbright ETA program to Jungwon University

I can’t believe it has already been two days! It has been a whirlwind of craziness. The minute I was off the plane, Fulbright staff swept me and other Fulbright ETAs into our busy schedules. We drove from Incheon Airport to the idyllic (middle of nowhere) town of Goesan, home of Jungwon University. Korea’s summers are hot and humid! It has rained almost constantly and adjusting to the climate change has been tough.


View of the back of Jungwon University from the student dorms

Jungwon seems to be a pretty modern building that nods at traditional Korean architecture with the ceramic tiled roofing and geometrical Korean designs of the windows and moldings. The gardens are  scenic with ponds, lilypads and stone statues, but also add a clashing blend of modern art with some strange pieces on display (namely two stone giant dinosaurs standing at the edge of one Asian-looking coy pond…) It’s been nicknamed the “Marble Maze” as since it’s just one enormous marble and granite-coated building, you are apt to get lost or turned around in the corridors. If you can’t see from the map below, it has a giant outdoor pool area, hot springs, an Olympic-sized swimming inside pool, a well-equipped gym, a number of sports fields, oh, and an 18-hole golf course! I have yet to find out if I can use the course, but we were advised to stay off the course because the “golfers are bad and you might get hit with a ball”.


Map of Jungwon University, Fulbright Korea’s Orientation site

The last two days have been part adjustment and part preparation. Orientation is a bit like summer camp. Actually, no it really is like summer camp. Or a English teacher boot-camp… The main parts of Orientation are language training, cultural training, and teaching training with some time for excursions and Extracurricular activities. View full post »

Exploring Jungwon University » Cara Mooney Photography - […] my one of previous posts, I wrote a small intro on Jungwon University (중원대학교). However, I finally had the time to […]

The Food of Jungwon » Cara Mooney Photography - […] seen some of my previous posts where I complain about the Korean cafeteria food here at Jungwon, I have decided to compile all the photos I have taken of my various meals (breakfast, lunch and […]

How to Pack for Teaching in South Korea » Cara Mooney Photography - […] you’ll need at least one formal outfit, a teaching outfit, and conservative campus wear for Jungwon. It will be hot. Bear with […]

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And I Am Off – Korea, Here I Come!

So long, America! I feel like it was just yesterday that I was flying off for my study abroad year in Spain! Here comes another year living out of a suitcase! Or well, at least it’s two suitcases this time!

I am be flying direct from JFK (New York) to Seoul, Korea. The flight is over 14 hours, which is much more agreeable than the 30+ hours of travel I would have had to do otherwise for my original flight out of Albany (then to Washington then to LA then to Seoul). Despite a long drive down to New York City, this way there are no layovers and a smaller chance that I’ll lose my luggage (crosses fingers). I will be flying out late tonight and arriving in Korea at 4am July 12. The picture of the plane above is the one that I will be taking. One of the new double-decker planes; an Airbus-A380 capable of holding over 400 people where the business class is upstairs with a personal bar and first class gets premium sleeper chairs and the downstairs where us peons will be sitting in economy. Oh, the joys of flying. At least I have a window bulk-head seat!!!

I will be going straight to from the airport to Jungwon University, which is about two hours south of Seoul. For the next six-weeks, myself and the other Fulbright ETAs will be going through a language training program and a general orientation to prepare us for our stay in Korea.

People keep asking me where I will be living. Answer: I do not know… yet. There will be a placement ceremony on the last day of the orientation when we are given our assignments. We will be told where in the country we are living, what school we are teaching at, and who we are teaching. I think I am most nervous about this, as I do not have much control over where I will be placed and I have to wait so long in anticipation until I find out! There is so much variability to where I could be. I could be in the countryside (even on Jeju Island!) or in a city. I’ve heard that Seoul isn’t an option for first year ETAs… I now nothing about my future students either! How old are they? How is their English? It makes for a lot of excitement, but also equal levels of anxiety.

I will try to keep this blog as updated as possible with news from abroad. Stay tuned!!!

Dad - Good start. I like the links

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Travel Prep and Rheumatoid Arthritis


I have yet to blog about this, as it is quite personal, but I have gotten into blogging again and have been inspired by other RA bloggers to write a post specific to my medical concerns. I think it is important for others to hear of my experiences. It has probably been one of the more difficult preparations I have had to go through for getting ready to leave for Korea on the Fulbright scholarship.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis

This past winter, I was diagnosed with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis)1 after almost two years of having my condition misdiagnosed as an orthopedic issue. At twenty-one years old, you aren’t prepared for getting the news that you have a of chronic, non-curable, life-altering disease. I never had heard of RA before and the idea or never thought much about it. Arthritis is a medical issue I considered a problem for old people and that was that.

It was hard to get my head around. I realized how bad things could be when I had a flare-up right before Christmas (I had not started treatment yet). For a number of days I struggled with the most basic of tasks such as dressing myself. The RA started in my feet, but also affected my hands. It was a painful effort to do things like buttons or bra clips and was particularly hard period for me. I was given prednisone as a temporary measure to deal with these symptoms though.  Yet, it was only the start of my journey. View full post »

  1. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a debilitating autoimmune disease that affects approximately 1.3 million people in the United States. The disease causes the immune system to attack healthy body tissue, leading to damage to joints and organs. Patients with RA can experience fatigue, joint pain, stiffness, fever, and pain. The impact of these largely invisible symptoms on patients’ lives varies, necessitating lifestyle changes and ongoing medical attention. Despite the many challenges that those living with RA face every day, patients can continue to strive to live full, meaningful lives within the “new normal” of the diagnosis.

Hiking Mudeungsan » Cara Mooney Photography - […] there’s more color on the trees. I had planned to do more hiking this year, especially since I haven’t been suffering from RA since I arrived in Korea (huzzah!), but I was just so busy. I also got sick early on which ruined a […]

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Starry Night over the Lake


View of the Milkyway Galaxy over an Adirondack lake

For my graduation I asked for a new camera. I had been taking photos with my old DSLR Canon EOS 40D (which I think is over 10 years old!). However, I shared it with my dad and wanted one of my own. Also, with a lens on the body, it made for a hefty camera! I still managed to lug it across Europe with me while I studied abroad in Spain, with my camera aptly getting dubbed the ‘Beast’ by friends. I was looking at upgrading in the EOS 40D line to the newest Canon model EOS 7D Mark II. This camera was just as big (but also as professional and high quality) as the old Canon with the price of just the body at a costly $1,600.

The Equipment

I made the decision to downgrade to a lower quality DSLR, trading-off a more professional grade camera for a smaller, more compact and travel-friendly camera that also is a lot more affordable. I thought this would be better since I would be taking this camera with me to Korea and did not want a repeat of Spain. I bought the Canon EOS Rebel T5i that came with two kit STM EF-S lenses 18-55mm and 55-250mm. While these are the cheaper lenses that lack the solid build of the higher quality lenses, they are lightweight and cover the range of 18-250mm.

I have wanted to get into astrophotography for a while. I have seen so many beautiful star photos, but I never was one to use a tripod. Or when I needed one, I never had it with me! I was told that having a remote trigger for the camera is very useful for these kind of shots to prevent shaking. I also wanted a wide angle lens for good landscape photography so I also bought a Rokinon FE14M-C 14mm and remote. This is what I used for my star photography shots. View full post »

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