There's a good preliminary step to take if any or all of this just seems to complicated or over your head. Penn has published a document called the Pennnet Passport, which sells for $4 at Wharton Reprographics (there's a separate window selling to faculty when the student line is too long!) and at the bookstore and is available on-line. This is a guide to the basic network services at Penn, explaining in clear language what you need and how to get specific help with particular problems at the level of getting your network connection, getting your account, figuring out how to do the basics, and the like. Your school or department will also have help resources available, but mention should also be made of the Computing Resource Center (facing the bookstore across Locust Walk), which is a walkin help center (among other things) with a lot of experience in getting people unconfused. In the humanities of SAS, there is as well the "prep center" with particular features for your needs.