Because of the 12-hour time difference, it can be difficult for Reisinger to help his URP students one-on-one. To remedy this, he has a teaching assistant (TA) who spends the semester in China. This year, Tiara Rei, ‘17, who has her bachelor’s in geography, has taken on the role.

Pipe Dream: What made you decide to be a TA in China?

Tiara Rei: I was checking my email one day early last semester and something from Mark caught my eye. The message read something like, “Are you unsure of what you want to do after graduation? Would you be interested in being a TA for my world geography course?” These questions resonated with me since I did not have any set plans for after graduation, so the next time I saw Mark for my thesis meeting, I brought it up.

PD: What do you miss most about home?

TR: I can’t wait to go home and sleep in my own bed. I have the thinnest and hardest mattress I’ve ever seen and felt in my life. It’s less than two inches thick. Stiff mattresses are typical here, but I really miss my bed at home.

PD: Have you found a go-to restaurant?

TR: Noodle shops are always good options to hit up when you don’t know what to eat or are having a hard time understanding everything on the menu at different restaurants. Zhenjiang is also a city known for its noodles.

PD: What experience with your students has stood out the most?

TR: During the first week of classes, the students had an assignment where they had to explain what their Chinese names meant and how they chose their English names. One student, Blamo, created his own name based on his love for “Harry Potter.” He explained that he found spells related to fire were cool so he found two synonyms for fire, blaze and flame, and combined them. He didn’t want to be called “Blame,” so he changed the E to an O and that’s how he got “Blamo.”

Pipe Dream has edited this interview for length and clarity.