STAWELL - Louise Bibby (now Hocking) is one the first students from Stawell Secondary College to participate in the German exchange program and she has stayed friends with her German partner.
"I loved having my partner, Barbie, here for 10 weeks. We forged a strong friendship," Louise said.
"When I went to Germany, it was a culture shock. Going from a town of 70 people (Navarre) to about 600,000 people in Nuremberg - it was densely populated - I didn't cope particularly well."
Despite her homesickness, Louise described the experience as of the best of her life.
"I loved being part of Barbie's family and we had a beautiful two week holiday in the German Alps.
"People do need to know about other countries. But it also confirmed to me that Australia is the best country - every person needs to go overseas once to appreciate we really do live in a lucky country."
College German teacher, Rudy Schrama, echoed Louise's sentiments when asked about his highlights of the program from the past 25 years.
"For me personally, coming from Europe, the most important aspect of the exchange is that students from a small country town like Stawell take up the challenge to go to a different country with a different family, different school, different language, different food and come back with priceless experiences and a new appreciation of home," Mr Schrama said.
Over the years, Mr Schrama has encountered many challenges as program coordinator in Stawell.
"I remember phone calls from German parents worrying that some Australian students only ate toast with vegemite.
"Getting used to different customs, food, expectations, school are the usual concerns. Homesickness at the start of the trip was at times a challenge for some students and of course some broken limbs as a result of winter sport activities."
He said the biggest challenge has been when students have become sick during the Berlin Trip, a week-long trip that the Victorian students go on during their stay.
Despite this, Mr Schrama says overall the program runs smoothly.
"Because the exchange is well organised and supported by parents, teachers, schools and a fantastic office in Munich with very experienced and capable staff, risks are kept to a minimum."
Mr Schrama thanked fellow college German teacher Adrienne Smith, who has been involved with the program for many years.