Toowoomba is friendlier and more genuine than Europe
ALTHOUGH she has visited many countries in Europe, Precila Gonzales feels Toowoomba people are friendlier and connect with her better than the Europeans she met.
Before she came to Toowoomba to get a PhD under the faculty of engineering at University of Southern Queensland in 2009, Dr Gonzales, 46, spent four years travelling between the Philippines and Belgium.
Between 2005 and 2008 she travelled to Belgium each semester for geographic information system related studies in a partnership between Filipino and Flemish universities.
While there, she visited other places such as Paris, London, Germany and the Netherlands.
She said there was no connection with the people rushing around in big cities.
"You just meet them and see them but you don't really get to know them," she said.
When Dr Gonzales came to Toowoomba she expected it to be just another place like Europe but was surprised to find she was wrong.
"The people here are really genuine and friendly," she said.
"Once you meet them and talk with people, they are able to provide you with a connection."
She said most of the people she met in Toowoomba really cared about her.
"I didn't experience that in Europe," she said.
Dr Gonzales has a bachelor of science in forestry and master of science in environmental science from the Philippines.
She came to Toowoomba hoping she could use her skills in agriculture, forestry and the environment to work in the university, at government level or with private organisations.
In the second year of her PhD her four school-aged children joined her in Toowoomba.
She now works as a marker for USQ but said the way Toowoomba was developing left her hopeful that an opportunity would come up to maximise her full potential and be able to help more in the community.
Dr Gonzales became an Australian citizen last year.
She said it amazed her how quiet and peaceful the city was and hoped to stay in Toowoomba.
"I could see myself staying here forever," she said.
"I think it's a very safe place to live."