Alberta University of the Arts: Student life on campus

An insider’s guide to the best place to live, campus food and more
Leia Guo
(Courtesy of AUArts)
(Courtesy of AUArts)

Leia Guo, 22

Leia Guo (Courtesy of Elisha Lozares)

Why did you choose AUArts?
I grew up in Calgary, and I wanted to attend a school that let me be close to home but also let me be myself. The artistic community at AUArts is so vibrant and the studio resources are second to none. The instructors are internationally recognized artists with a passion for helping emerging artists thrive. I can’t imagine a more supportive community to be in on my journey to become a professional artist.

Describe some of your best experiences so far.
My best experiences include hosting an impromptu dance party in the glass studios with friends (safely, of course!) and working with the Student’s Association on our biannual student Show + Sale. It’s wonderful to be in a school that values community and creativity and lets us hang loose once in a while. I have also enjoyed my one-on-one time with instructors at the end of the semester. I feel that my instructors are both mentors and friends, and I always appreciate the time they take to look over my portfolio.

Are you involved in extracurricular activities?
I currently work in the Student’s Association, where I am the coordinator of our biannual student Show + Sale. It’s been a great way to meet other students and learn about the amazing art they’re making. I also volunteer with the Glass Club and the Creig Gallery, both student clubs that raise funds for trips and showcase student work.

What do you think of your professors?
The instructors and technicians at AUArts are amazing. While some courses were not my favourites, I haven’t had an instructor I didn’t like in my five years of school. They can seem intimidating at first, being internationally recognized artists and all, but I’ve found that they will bend over backward to help their students succeed. The same goes for our technicians, who run our studios.

What do you think of the school’s administration?
My best advice for new students is to ask for sign-up help early. The online process is fairly easy, but folks who have transfer credits or wish to sign up for a higher level class will need help in person. Our registrar and academic advisers are constantly in demand, so make sure you book a session early and with a plan. Keep in mind that some courses might also be very popular, such as glassblowing, so being proactive is a must.

What is off-campus life like in Calgary?
Calgary has a vibrant arts community, which includes music, performing arts, visual arts and more. Even in a pandemic, you’ll find many events that celebrate creativity and community in the city. It’s perfect for the aspiring artist.

PROFILE: Alberta University of the Arts | Calgary, Alta. | Founded 1926

If I wrote the school motto: ‘The world needs more artists!’
Best place to live: Just across the train tracks at the SAIT campus. No one will judge you for waking up late if school is a five-minute walk away.
Best place to study: My favourite place is on the fourth floor with the (free!) tutors. They’re an awesome resource to help with work, and the room is nice too.
Best campus events: The Show + Sale takes the cake. It’s a great chance for students to show off their stuff and pay off their tuition.
Weirdest tradition: Everyone has to leave their mark in the graffiti stairwell before they graduate!
Best campus food: You’d be surprised at how good the students are at cooking! There are monthly potlucks at our Lodgepole Center and anyone can participate.
Best pizza: The school cafeteria makes really good pizzas and calzones
Best place for a fancy dinner: The Highwood at SAIT across the way
Best giveaway: Free snacks at the welcome desk on the main floor
Best bar for hanging out: The Oak Tree Tavern
Best weekend activity: Heading out to the mountains with friends
The thing that surprised me most about the school: You really get to know your instructors. You know what kind of coffee they like, what their cat is up to at home and what their next big project is.