Jorge keeps going - all the way to Toowoomba
Jorge from Colombia has an undeniable energy that sees him often presented with, and enthusiastically accept, every opportunity that comes his way. This is his story as to how a Bachelor of Accounting graduate ended up in Toowoomba with his partner and thriving in the hospitality industry.
“I am one of 15 from a family in Colombia. I was raised with two mums and have half-siblings from my dad and his relationships. I am the youngest of them all (32 years), and when I was six, he passed away. Most of my siblings are in Colombia – all with varied jobs – security guards, farmers, lawyer, judge – I have a half-sister in Canada – she’s a hotel manager,” Jorge began, during his podcast interview, you can also listen to the full podcast series here: My Study Journey.
“Where I’m from in Colombia, Valledupar, there are two seasons only – summer and dry summer. My city is very mixed – skyscrapers and farms, and there is a beautiful river that goes across it. We are very touchy people – we always cuddle and kiss all the time for greetings.
“So when I finished my Bachelor of Accounting, I was like ‘Okay, let’s achieve another thing! Let’s keep going, what should I do?’ I texted my friends and I texted my sister. Some friends were in Australia – and they said – yes come to Australia! My sister didn’t text me in time – I had made my decision already! The next day – I remember, March 30th, 2017, I texted the agency guy, and two months later I was backing my bags!” Jorge said.
Jorge’s plan was to come to Australia to study English. He hadn’t done a lot of research about it however – his impression was that he was going to be surrounded by kangaroos and koalas every day. And on June 4th, 2017, he arrived and quickly found out that was not really the case…
“It was so funny – when I arrived in Brisbane it was winter. The very next day we went to the Gold Coast and the water was so cold! I also made the mistake of making friends with seagulls – we don’t have them in Colombia – I was feeding them – then they wouldn’t leave me alone!” laughed Jorge.
“It took me about a month to get the basics. But to get conversational – I was talking to all the strangers – on the bus, at a bar – let’s keep going! I was learning all the time. For the first 6 months here I was cleaning – easiest job ever, got good money, and I was at the Meriton Suites with six other students from all different countries. It was a great experience!
“Then my partner came to Australia! We’d been together for 7 years, and we couldn’t fit another person in the apartment, so we found another place together in Spring Hill with a Polish couple,” Jorge continued.
From that point, the trajectory began, which would see Jorge and his partner end up in Toowoomba. One half of the Polish couple recommended Jorge look at the hospitality industry and soon got him a job as a bartender at a Greek restaurant. Jorge’s enthusiasm for learning and saying ‘yes’ saw him swiftly invited into the kitchen for making pizza and then started cooking there. Jorge describes, “I just keep moving all the time – I need to be doing something all the time!”
As such, Jorge had finished his English lessons and went to the TAFE Queensland website. He saw that he could study cookery via scholarship, and said to himself ‘This is it, I don’t even need to think.’
“So, I applied for the scholarship – you had to study in one of four locations. I visited Toowoomba and just thought – oh this Is beautiful! The weather, the forest, how the trees change colours – yellow, red, green.
“I got the scholarship and I love Toowoomba. It is so cheap, there are beautiful parks everywhere and the city – you can walk through it all. It is a small town, and everyone is very friendly. They have a great nightlife here – you can grab a drink, go dancing. There is an Irish Club here – it’s quite famous, and it’s nice and it’s fun,” raved Jorge.
“I got a job even before I moved here! I was having coffee at a restaurant – Muller Bros. when I was deciding on whether Toowoomba would be the place, and the Brazilian manager asked me if I wanted a job – and I said of course I do! He said bring your resume, we’ll have a chat, and we’ll go from there. And I’m still working here!”
Jorge completed his Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery (SIT40516) in July 2022, and will soon complete his Diploma of Hospitality Management (SIT50416) in December. On his days off he travels to Warwick – the next regional town over and goes restaurant hunting – ‘work research.’
“More like belly research! I love to try new stuff; I go everywhere and think – yes this is delicious!” laughed Jorge.
“You know, I don’t have regrets, but if I could do anything – I wish I came to Australia when I was a bit younger – so I could have more time to enjoy it! My goal now is to stay in the kitchen,” Jorge offered.
“My second mum died last year of COVID, and she was very fond of cooking. When I’m cooking I feel her here with me. I feel very safe in the kitchen. I see myself cooking in the future – my next focus is baking – pastry and making bread especially,” Jorge shared.
If you’re considering studying in Australia – Jorge advises the following:
- Study a little bit of English before coming here in case you’re shy
- Australians are really nice people to hang out with
- You should be fond of animals – but don’t worry because not all are dangerous, and
- Queensland is like Latin America – weather is beautiful, we have everything we need – mountains, beaches
“Yes, this is the best place to stay, ever,” ended Jorge.