I both buy and sell on etsy. It's a fun site, although the search function can make it a bit hard to find what you want. It is a site for handmade things with a huge variety of things available. Each seller has their own shop, so when you buy you pay the seller directly and not etsy itself.
My advice would be to favorite the things you like/want to make them easy to find later, and maybe set a money limit for yourself before you start. There are so many things I'd like to buy on there.
Also for a buyer a paypal account is not necessary as many sellers accept checks, google checkout, or credit cards directly. I would caution against linking a paypal account to a bank account with any money in it. Oh and even if its the sellers only form of payment you can pay with a credit card without a paypal account.