Chile was an AMAZING student exchange location and I would recommend it to anyone. It is relatively safe, easy to travel, the university is extremely helpful and the area of Viña del Mar and Valparaiso is stimulating, without being too big and overwhelming. There ARE cultural differences, one being the street dogs!
They are everywhere (and so is their dog poo). It is also hard to get used to the language but rewarding once you get the hang of it. I made some of my closest friends on student exchange, friends that I have already gone to visit in the USA and know would welcome me all over the world. I was in Chile for their national holiday, September 18th, and enjoyed huge fiestas and asados (BBQs), experienced Valpo NYE (THE best in South America), enjoyed many a “terremoto” (a local drink of wine, grenadine and pineapple ice cream), went camping on volcanic lakes and saw some of the most beautiful sites in the world (truly, Chile is a world class destination for natural beauty). I can’t recommend it enough.