That really is the first week of the program. We’re not lying to you ;-)
Sorry you had some difficulty setting up your development environment. We’ve created a starter kit here that should be drop-dead simple: https://github.com/udacity/CarND-Term1-Starter-Kit
As to the course content, our goal is to train engineers so they are ready to get jobs working on autonomous vehicles. That involves a lot of projects and practice. We have several professors in the program who have given us great feedback, but to some extent it does depend on your goals.
On time commitment, we are exploring an audit option for the program, but one is not available right now.