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My flight to Chile will take off next tuesday, which means I should be busily writing letters, organizing my stay and my schedule, packing my suitcase, making sure that I haven’t forgotten to do anything that should be done here before I leave the country for a month.

It will be my fifth visit since July 2009 to that long and narrow stretch of land running between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, and I no longer feel a need to go on a language course as soon as I arrive, although I still have a long way to go as far as understanding the spoken “chileno” is concerned. It’s amazing, however, how quickly one can learn when one has to, be it a new language or any other practical skill you need to get by. There is no better motivation for learning than necessity, and no better practice than the real situations – that’s worked for me, at least.