I know I’ve been blogging a lot recently about leaving Korea. How ’bout I change it up? Yeah?

Four months ago, I pierced my nose on a whim. A couple friends were going to a salon in Hongdae, the area of the city where all the college students hang out, and invited me to come along. I took out my first nose ring a couple summers ago at the request of my Ann Taylor Loft boss (go ahead, get your jabs in) and hadn’t thought about it since. But once Sara mentioned the piercing place, I realized I had no reason not to do it. One of the ideas in taking out the nose ring was that I’d be joining the workforce, and most job interviews fare better when you don’t have metal hanging out on your face.

So off we went to Hongdae the next day. Sara was getting her cartilage pierced and Kate was getting a ring changed. I was still on the fence about the nose ring, recalling the extreme pain of having a needle shoved through my nose. But once we got there, I felt the excited, nervous butterflies in my stomach and decided to go for it. It was only $10, so worst case scenario, I take it out when I get a real job (which likely won’t be for a while).

It was only moderately painful. (Falling up the stairs at the restaurant we went to afterwards hurt a lot more. Typical Melissa.) I went to bed that night, convinced I’d made the right choice.

Then I woke up the next morning.

I don’t know how it happened, but the girl who pierced me hadn’t put the ring in well enough, and it had started to come out over night, closing up part of the hole. I woke up the next morning, shocked that something as simple as a nose piercing could go awry. I sucked it up, disinfected an earring and re-pierced my own damn nose, which was possibly more painful than getting it pierced in the first place.

Months later, I’ve recovered from the traumatic incident. Kids gawk at my face and say, “Teacher…nose pierce?” and I let them touch it. Then I show them my tragus piercing and they flip out. Body art isn’t very popular or accepted in Korean society. It’s pretty rare here to see anyone past his 20s with a visible body piercing or tattoo. When we have visitors to school, teachers with tattoos need to cover them up.

I’m not sure how long I’ll keep the nose ring, but after this latest self-piercing experience, I’m damn sure I won’t be getting anything else pierced. And you can quote me on that.

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