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Filipino Student Checks the United States off his Travel Bucket List

Diego Gabriel Imao
Diego Gabriel Imao

Diego Gabriel Imao is an international exchange student at Keene State College from the Philippines. As a junior at the University of the Philippines, he studies architecture. This career path stemmed from his attendance at a science high school, mixed with his family’s inclination towards the arts. Since studying in the United States, he has noticed some program differences, such as studio culture, which he enjoys.

“The difference that I’ve noticed in terms of architecture is that there’s more of a focus on the studio here. You’re sitting and collaborating with everyone around you and that’s not something you’ll find in the Philippines,” he said. His mentor at the University of the Philippines taught in the United States and informed him about studio culture, so he has enjoyed being able to experience it while studying at Keene State.

Besides being enrolled in two architecture classes, Capstone Project and Design III, Diego is taking History of Rock and Roll and Yoga. His favorite professors at Keene State are Bartlomiej Sapeta and Fernado Del Ama Gonzalo, both professors in the Architecture Department. “They’re both pretty great and they are also from Europe so they understand that I am having a hard time adjusting to the imperial system,” he joked.

When he’s not in the studio working on projects, Diego likes to explore the City of Keene. He’s excited to hike Mount Monadnock once the weather warms up. In the Philippines he would often go mountain climbing, scuba diving, and surfing. He recently tried skiing for the first time at Mount Snow and highly recommends it. The one thing he wishes Keene offered is more South-East Asian cuisine, which is why he’s very excited for the opening of a new pho restaurant downtown.

Since he is returning to the Philippines in May, Diego wants to experience as much of the US as possible. During spring break he flew to Austin, Texas, to attend South by Southwest, a conference and festival. “I caught a few musical acts that I’m really into. I like more of the underground music scene. One of my favorite architects spoke at the event as well, so I wanted to get to see that,” added Diego.

Diego is no stranger to studying and traveling abroad. In high school, he participated in an exchange program in South Korea and then was invited to one in Moscow, Russia. He described his experience in South Korea as “unreal” and enjoyed spending time in Moscow as well.

His biggest takeaway from studying abroad has extended beyond his academic work. “I think over the years the world has gotten smaller,” he said. “It’s easier to disseminate information around different universities and campuses, but what’s always unique to a place is the social context of what you’re studying.”

By Anna DePasquale ’20

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