As a child, I believed everyone thought in English and translated their thoughts into the language they spoke. Realizing that people thought in their own language blew my mind.
German was a natural choice for me in high school: Grandmom and Grandpop still spoke German to each other, Mom, and the family in Germany. In college, I continued German, and was lucky enough to live and work for six months. Living in another language was exhausting, although by the end of the six months, even my dreams were in German.
Learning a language is learning to think differently. It's a little like math: how to get meaning from parts (words or numbers) that have very strict rules for how they work together, building from smaller to larger pieces, words to idioms to sentences, conversations, and books.
In 2018, I started learning Spanish with an app before attending my friend's wedding in her husband's hometown outside Mexico City. It has been a ton of fun (muy divertido). Middle-grade books — about a fifth- or sixth-grade level — are comprehensible with a dictionary and a bit of re-reading. That feeling of understanding, and knowing that more knowledge is opening up before you. If you can get the verbs right.
South Germany — Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemburg — celebrates the week before Ash Wednesday and Lent with revelry, antics, and deep-fried doughnuts to use up any leftover fat.