FORUM is the AIAS’ annual conference that invites all of our members from around the world to gather in a new city under a new theme, and spend a few days together over New Years. FORUM is often capitalized even though it’s not technically an acronym – so when people ask us what it stands for, we like to say that it’s a conference that represents everything we stand for: we empower voices, ideas, and actions for the future. And we especially love to do it together!
What happens there?
Through innovative speakers, seminars, activities, and tours, we: learn about design, service, and leadership advancements in the field; meet, collaborate, and communicate with our fellow members from diverse schools and perspectives face-to-face rather than digitally; get to know a cool city for its architecture, firm culture, and history; celebrate our accomplishments throughout the year as students and chapters; and represent our chapters by electing the next Board of Directors for our organization. Of course, we also ring in the New Year in style, and start the first day of the rest of our lives off on the right foot. Each year’s theme is provocative and relevant, and all activities, talks, and tours relate back to it.
There will be General Sessions, Keynote Lectures, a College and Career Expo, a Beaux Arts Ball, and more! Check out this year’s FORUM website to read all about it!
Where and when is it?
FORUM is in a different city every year. This time, we’ll be in:
December 29th to January 2nd
100 Front Street West
Toronto, ON, Canada M5J 1E3
Check out the amazing FORUM website that this year’s FORUM Planning Team put together to see the schedule. The entire conference theme is CONTRA and the Beaux Arts Ball Theme is “the Roaring Twenties.” Dress accordingly!
Sounds great! How do I sign up?
Canada?? How can I get there?
You can get into Canada many ways. We’re going to focus on the most popular two: by land and by air.
For people who are non-citizens of the United States:
This website will tell you what documents you need in order to travel into Canada by land or by air depending on the country associated with your passport documentation: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp.
For people who are citizens of the United States:
A passport book ($145 for first time applicants, not expedited) will allow you to get into Canada and back by land or by air. You can begin the process online here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports.html/; but will have to finish the process at one of the many in-person locations available in the USA – you can also do the entire process at one of these locations: https://iafdb.travel.state.gov/.
A passport card ($65 for first time applicants, not expedited) will allow you to get into Canada by land. You can begin the process online here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports.html/ or https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passport/card.html; but will have to finish the process at one of the many in-person locations available in the USA – you can also do the entire process in-person at one of these locations: https://iafdb.travel.state.gov/.
If you don’t currently have a passport book or card and intend to get one, you can see what the current processing times for both documents are here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/requirements/processing-times.html.
The passport book and card can be expedited for an additional fee.
September was Passport Month! So this area is the absolute best time to get your passports! You can learn about Passport Fairs happening in September, October, and November in your area here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/passports/special-passport-acceptance-fairs.html.
If you reside in Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, or Washington, you may be eligible for an Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) which would allow you to get into Canada and back by land. Read more about obtaining and using an EDL here: https://www.us-passport-service-guide.com/enhanced-drivers-license.html.
Read more here about traveling by land: https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-voyage/gbi-rgf-eng.html.
Once I get to Canada, how do I get everywhere else?
If you fly into Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ), find the Union Pearson Express train and buy a ticket (CAN$12.35). Take the train all the way to Union Station, which is conveniently located right across the street from the conference hotel.
Most activities will be happening in the hotel, but trips and tours outside will have coordinated travel plans. For on-your-own travel, the FORUM Planning Team recommends traveling via metro: “We recommend buying a PRESTO card (Toronto’s metro card) that is $6 CAD. This will give you discounted prices for every ride, plus a free unlimited transfer within 2 hours of tapping.
Another option is purchasing tickets if you do not plan on riding the metro frequently. Prices can be found here: http://www.ttc.ca/Fares_and_passes/Prices/Prices.jsp – FORUM Planning Team
It’s my first time attending, how can I make the most of FORUM?
Once you’ve made the brilliant decision to attend FORUM, your life can only get better! You can make the most of the conference before the conference even starts by encouraging your friends to sign up with you. It’s not only cheaper to register in groups of four or more, but it also means that you’ll have a great group with whom you can ring in the new year. If you’re looking for a behind-scenes look at FORUM, email email@example.com about being a volunteer at FORUM; it does require working, but can be a lot of fun with your fellow volunteers and the AIAS Staff.
After you and your best friends are registered, learn as much as you can about the FORUM location. There are plenty of events and activities in the schedule, but you’ll want to know what to look out for in the skyline and whether or not you’ll want to extend your trip by a couple of days. Definitely coordinate with your chapter to get the best deals, and also to plan the best ROLL CALL. See below about Roll Call.
When you get to FORUM, put on your smiliest personality and get ready to meet absolutely everyone! The more people you meet, the easier it will get to introduce yourself and get to know your peers. They’re going through everything you’re going through, but at a different school (maybe a school you almost went to, or the school you want to go to). You could meet your new best friend, new work colleague, a business partner, or even someone special – and it all starts with being approachable, inclusive, and kind. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, there are people like you at FORUM, and they’re looking for you, too.
During the sessions and seminars, take notes and pay attention. It’s a lot to take in, and you don’t want to forget anything! Your notes may help jog your memory of something important during the upcoming semester. Don’t be afraid to come up with questions and ask them during speaker meet and greets, or email them afterwards. Everyone who comes to speak with us is interested in encouraging students to do their best – the only way asking a question can go wrong is if you’re disrespectful.
The AIAS strongly recommends staying hydrated and getting good sleep each night so that you’re not a zombie during the mornings. No one wants to start the New Year with a groggy migraine, right? Look out for each other and be courteous to people who are looking out for you.
TL;DR: You paid good money for the conference, and the easiest way to make the most of it is to participate in everything you sign up for, and engage with everyone you meet. Be safe and make smart choices.
Did you say something about elections earlier?
Yes! The AIAS is an organization by students and for students, and as such, we elect our Quad Directors and Officers from our body of members like you. If you feel called to lead the AIAS at a higher level than your chapter involvement, then we encourage you to consider running for a position on the AIAS Board of Directors. More information about the candidate process will be released in October by the Elections Chair (aka the Past-President). There is an application process to declare your candidacy, and then campaigning begins on the first day of FORUM. The vote happens on December 31, and the results are announced on January 1.
What’s Roll Call?
Roll Call is world’s most exciting way to let everyone know that your chapter is, in fact, present at and ready for a great conference!! At each General Session, the AIAS Vice President will call on a Quad and their schools to make some sort of sound, action, chant, dance, anything! You can come up on stage or submit a video the day before to firstname.lastname@example.org. There have been some incredibly funny roll calls in the past, and we encourage you to try and be the best. Ask your chapter and your Quad Director for good ideas. However, your Roll Calls have to be fairly short: the limit is usually 60 seconds or whatever pleases the Vice President.
It’s also in good taste to bring the Vice President an offering (e.g. candy, fruit, mozzarella sticks, etc.) if you’re going to approach the stage. You didn’t hear it from us, but you may be able to bribe more stage time that way.
What should I bring with me?
During the winter, Canada gets cold – and by cold, we mean EXTREMELY cold. Make sure to bring your winter gear for outside activities: thick coats, scarves, hats, gloves, and waterproof winter boots. Check the weather before you leave home.
Casual-formal or business clothes are recommended for the College & Career Expo. Don’t forget to bring your portfolios!
Other than that, you might want to bring a camera, laptop and charger, business cards, comfortable shoes, and a great attitude! See the pro-tips and STORUM question below for a few more things to check while you’re packing your bags.
The AIAS is not responsible for anything you may lose or have taken from you while you’re at the conference. Anything you choose to bring, you do so at your own risk.
What are some good places to eat? What else is there to do in Toronto?
The FORUM Planning Team has put together a GMap of all their favorite spots: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=1p2EcllqXeCQZQUk8sL0k21ymTaVQ26NK&ll=43.68302993003206%2C-79.37086970000001&z=13. For a general list of things to do in Toronto, they also recommend this site: https://www.seetorontonow.com/.
Stay tuned for info about STORUM where you can sell your chapter’s coolest merch to anyone attending FORUM!
Any other pro-tips I should know?
It’s a good idea to call your bank and credit card company to let them know that you’re traveling out of the country for a few days. Otherwise, your card company may freeze your card in the name of suspicious activity! You shouldn’t need to exchange any currency when you get to Toronto, but if you’re traveling with US dollars in your bank account, the exchange rate is in your favor.
You should also check on your phone’s data plan! Some carriers will let you switch into international service very easily and with only a small fee, but some carriers require more action. Do your research!