yes, to some degree it is normal.
this is why ribbing is almost always worked on needles 2 or 3 sizes smaller than you might use for stocking knit.
MOST knitters can't get good looking ribbing unless they go down a size or two.
so generally a knitter might need a size 6 (US)needle for ribbing, and a size 8 (US)for stocking knit for the same yarn.)
you might find you need to go down an additional size to get your ribbing to behave. (and use size 5 (US) needles ) to get the finished effect you want.
Point 2- there are several style of knitting (the biggies are
European is further divided into ENGLISH (general characterized by holding yarn in Right hand)
Continental (genearl characterized by holding yarn in left hand)
there are many subdivisions in these groups (6 or so just in UK! many more on the continent!)
(and there are many different sub division in Eastern and Combo too!)
you might try learning
the Norwegian purl --see a turorial here http://fleeglesblog.blogspot.com/
a combo purl (try Anne Modiset blog)
or even switching from Left hand Yarn hold to Right (or visa versa!)
time and practice will help too.