Good call, that's a very sharp lens, I've used a few times. It might be the best value of all Canon lenses.
I have the f1.4 version, which gives me half an f-stop, but costs 3.5x as much. The f1.8 version has a lot more plastic components to it, and doesn't focus as quickly as the f1.4 version, but don't let that stop you from getting the f1.8 version.
I feel that anybody starting out in photography, or looking to improve your skills, should only use prime lenses, not zoom lenses. It will teach you to think about composition more, and to move your feet and look for angles instead of lazily zooming.
I tend to think that zoom lenses should only be used when the situation keeps you from being able to move while the subject is moving.
If not a 50mm lens (because it would really function as a 50mm due to the crop factor of the sensor), get a 35mm, 28mm, 24mm or 20mm lens.
This is all counterintuitive, I know. After getting more comfortable with getting CLOSER to your subject and moving around, you will get better photos than you would have if you stand far away and just zoom in.