A Thai exchange student in Australia - Sherry’s Story

My name is Sherry Kocharkorn. I am about 5 feet 5 inches in height, and I weigh about 56 kilograms. I was born in Konkean, Thailand and I am presently residing in Bangkok. I am married and have a wonderful family that comprises of my parents and a brother. My parents have been of immense support to my academic pursuit, as that will explain why i was able to afford the trip to Brisbane in Queensland, Australia as an exchange student. It’s not that straight forward to get a visa and the process involved a lot of paperwork and many trips to the Australian embassy in Bangkok. I would seriously advise anyone who is considering getting a visa for Australia to use an agency like Key Visa, although they charge you a fee - they do save you a lot of hassle. 

At that time in 2006/2007, I had the options of traveling to other countries like the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand but I opted for Australia because it had been my childhood dream. Also, I didn’t really have a clear idea of what I wanted to do as a career. Unlike some of my friends who had a really clear idea of their plans and opted for specialist schools in a particular location. One friend went to Switzerland to study hospitality through a specialist agency and another friend went to study in the UK and stayed there to attend Nottingham University. My friend who went to the UK took English classes online with a British teacher before she went, I didn’t do that as I thought my English was ok already but I really wish I had as speaking English in a native English speaking country is totally different to speaking English in Thailand. There are many examples of online English lessons such as skypeclass.com

Life in Australia as I recall is totally different from what we have here in Thailand. Firstly, the quality of basic amenities like the their transport systems, travelling to school in a minibus was completely different from Thailand as we had to meet at the pick up point instead of being picked up at the house which seemed strange. Natural parks, school settings(as in the beauty of the schools) and the mode of studies are basically what I enjoyed the most. They taught us for two hours a day comprising of a subject for every 40 minutes. We started school at 8.30am and finished at 3pm, within that time we had our study periods and lunch breaks(although lunch in year 12 usually involved more study). We studied,History, Geography, Maths, English and science each day. The school environment is so beautiful with the gardens, fields and new classrooms that you will always wish to study further. I had the opportunity to go to several parks like the Emu park, Riverbank Parklands, which is a River front Parkland attraction located at the banks of the Fitzrong River. I enjoyed Fishing, boating and the unspoiled beaches of Emu Park.

What I disliked most was the Thai Restaurants, the food didn’t really taste the same as in Thailand and it was really expensive too. Also i was disappointed with the weather because i was expecting heavy snowing, but actually the temperature was relatively close to what I witness in Thailand often. I was a first hand witness of flooding in some parts of Rockhampton, which really wasn’t so pleasant and is common in Thailand.

The main difference between studying in Australia and Thailand is mainly the mode of studying, the cultural differences and language of instruction. It is basically English and some bilingual too in Australia, whereas in Thailand it is Thai language. The cost of studying in Australia is a lot higher than in Thailand and the school structure is much more relaxed, for example you don’t have to stand up when the teacher enters the room.

I adapted easily in Australia because I had strong knowledge of the English language and can express myself in English, so I think that it made things lot more easier for me. The cultural differences weren’t a problem for me then because I was able to make friends which helped me in adapting to my new lifestyle. The family that I was residing with is a big family so they helped me to settle in and showed me what to expect before stepping into the school. These things made adaptation less stressful for me.

I will advise my fellow Thais going to Australia to try as much as they can to equip themselves with some degree of English because that is needed and will help them to be able to interact and adapt easily. If you enjoy your time as an exchange student then you can always return to Australia again on a working holiday.


Other ways to travel Australia include working holidays for people aged below 30

It seems like a bit of a pipe dream when we think about the possibility of working abroad but it certainly doesn’t have to be, especially when it comes to working and travelling in Australia. Most people who take on these sorts of opportunities are people in gap years either before or after university but it certainly doesn’t have to be restricted to these people. You do have to be between the ages of 18 and 31 though. Like everything it is important that you learn what is involved and what is required to make the whole thing a success.

How do I get Started?

Before you even think about getting a working visa, which is obviously a legal requirement for working in Australia, you need to decide what you want to do and what you are capable of. Some jobs you simply won’t have the required skills for and others you may have no interest in. If you are looking at either of these two things then you are destined to fail or have a thoroughly miserable time before you have even begun.
There are plenty of places that you can get more information about Working Holidays in Australia such as the internet or going along to a free talk or seminar. The talks and seminars are great as these give you the opportunity to ask questions that are relevant to you because after all you are the person that matters most in this scenario.

Getting a Working Visa

Now you have decided where you want to start work and what you are looking to do. The next thing that you need to do is obtain your working visa. A working visa will allow you to live and work in Australia for up to 12 months.
You can apply for a visa from the Australian Government website or alternatively you may wish to use the services of an agency such as STA that specialise in offering these types of services. An agency can certainly reduce the amount of headaches and heartaches that you may encounter, but they will of course charge a fee.

What Next?

It may sound a little bit daunting spending 12 months on the other side of the World and having these thoughts is perfectly natural. Below are just a few practical things that you should also consider.


You will need to build up your saving prior to travelling. OK, it is a working holiday but you wouldn’t want to arrive with nothing. Getting these savings together may take you months or perhaps even years depending on your circumstances. You will need to consider paying for your flight, travel insurance (compulsory), your accommodation(expensive) not to mention the need for everyday things.
Travelling with friends can also help you reduce your costs. You could split accommodations costs, transport costs as well as being able to split the cost of utilities. All of these things will make things easier – not to mention probably a lot more enjoyable!


It always pays to plan ahead. A checklist is a great way to do this and will reduce the chances of forgetting something crucial. Planning will increase the chances of your working holiday being a success no end so take a little time out to ensure that you have covered everything.
The basic things for a checklist should be: passport, visa, tickets and travel insurance, but also think about your CV, covering letters, an Australian Bank Account and an Australian Tax File Number (TFN).

You can apply for a tax file number online(https://taxfilenumberaustralia.com.au/apply) either before you leave or when you arrive, it is a free service and a TFN is something you need to work legally and to ensure you are taxed at the correct rate. Once you have your TFN you can take all your documents(Passport, Visa, Confirmation of address and TFN) to any bank branch and open an account. Australia has several banks, but the biggest and most popular ones are: CBA(Commonwealth Bank), ANZ(Australia and New Zealand Bank), Westpac, St George and National Australia Bank.

Securing the Job

The next section is a list of the top jobs in Australia but this is just a practical look at the things that you will need to consider before apply for any job. Firstly, you need your CV up to date and in electronic format as well as hard copies. You may need to update and tweak it whilst you are away. Ensure that you have your TFN from the Australian Government – you won’t be able to work without it and it could cause you greater problems once you are in Australia. Have you arranged an Australian bank account? The one in your home country will be no good for receiving a salary in Australia. It can’t be stressed enough that you should make sure that all of these things are in place prior to leaving home.

Top 5 Jobs in Australia for a working holiday

Below are the top 5 jobs that people tend to do on their working holidays. Not only are they all great fun, give you memories that will stay with you for the rest of your life, but they will also look great on your CV and make you stand out from the crowd when you are back in your home country. The two best places for locating a suitable job are Seek and Gumtree, these will give you many options to consider.

Farm Hand

This is hard work but very rewarding especially if you are someone who appreciates the great outdoors. You will learn new skills such as working in the yard, shearing sheep as well riding and saddling a horse. This will be one experience that you won’t forget.

Dive Master

First you need to get qualified but there are dive schools in every country to get your papers. Once you have them the World is well and truly your oyster and certainly beats being stuck behind a desk all day. If you want to get your diving qualification in Thailand, you may want to consider Hua Hin Divers whose Divemaster, Steve has many years of experience in training people to become instructors.

Call Centre Operator

While not the dreamiest of jobs there are a lot of positions available and all you need is a good command of English. The pay in these roles is usually above average and the majority are also in capital cities, so if you wanted to spend time in Sydney or Melbourne this could be the ideal role for you. Of course most of them are 9-5 and if that is what you want to get away form it may not suit.

Surf Instructor

What could be more typically Australian than being a surf instructor? It is one of the things that we associate most with the country and what an experience it would be once you have mastered it!

Construction Labourer

Labourer’s pay rates in Australia are some of the highest in the world allowing you to earn up to $1500 a week and all you need is the willingness to put in a hard days work. There is an abundance of jobs for labourers all over Australia, so you don’t need to be in one place and get to work outside in the sunshine every day finishing work at 3pm(enough time for the beach). Sun, money and early finishes, what is not to love?

Working on a Sailing Boat

This is another incredible experience sailing around the islands of the Whitsundays. Again, it’s hard work but extremely rewarding and sure to be memorable. Don’t forget though that there are many Australians with many years of experience in this sport so it may not be the easiest option for you. If you have experience and would like to work as a surfing instructor in Australia, then you could start by visiting Surfing Australia, who can help you to become qualified and to find a position.


Once more, not the job most people dream of, however there is a lot available and it has good pay. If you go to Gumtree you will find a huge amount of cleaning jobs all over Australia with different hours and rates of pay, so if you are looking for variable hours and good pay this could be the place to start.

Fruit Picking

This is a sure way to get your visa extended by a further 12 months. If you spend 3 months a year picking fruit you can extend your visa by a further 12 months. It is also an ideal way to meet other travellers doing the same thing. What could be better?

About Author

Travel Australia