I have got the following mental associations with German language (in order of appearance during audition or reading):
1. World War 2 - Nazies
2. German porn movies with beautiful and brave women
Other great achievements of German people, like:
3. Beer + Oktoberfest
4. Cars - Mercedes-Benz, BMW etc.
5. Great composers, including Johann Sebastian Bach
6. Great philosophers, including Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
7. High quality work and punctuality
to me personally are not that connected to the language.
That's why when I can understand without using a traslator or dictionary the title of some article from ZEIT, while also reading it, I am so happy because I understand and how that sounds, that it scares passengers around me.
Just the fact that whe I read ZEIT it seems to me like the war report. very psychedelic.
"Ahmadinedschad fordert eine neue Weltordnung" or "Es gibt nichts mehr zu kürzen" - doesn't it sound awesome?!
I am really enjoying the process of learning.