good to have you onboard. just to confirm your query, are you looking for a DSLR or just a P&S model? if the former, then the fuji model you're looking at is not for you as it's just a P&S. try looking at the nikon D40/x or D60.
if you're set in getting a P&S, the model you want is ok but i would suggest getting the fuji s6500fd or the new s1000fd. in my opinion, the s6500fd provides the best bang for the buck among the long zoom P&S in the market. catch is it's already phased out and there are no more inventory here in the phil. your best bet is buying online.
as for enrolling a photography class, it is a worthwhile investment in photography. don't skimp on having one