I am an economics PhD student, originally from Brazil, but currently in Australia.
I am trying to learn Emacs (and enjoying the process), but it is challenging. It doesn't help that most online help assumes knowledge I don't have ("change your variable PATH" - what are you talking about??, "open your ~/.emacs" - what does ~ mean?, "type this code" - sure, but where?).
I am getting there slowly, though, and I am happy with how much I have been learning!
I am also interested in LaTeX, Matlab, and plan on learning R (soonish) and hopefully Python (not anytime soon!).