Don't diss the Matlab
Matlab rocks. Just because it's high-level doesn't mean it's not a "proper" language. The point of Matlab is there's things you can dash off in one line that would otherwise take hours to program and produce reams of C code. I used to teach it to undergrads, and I'd pride myself on explaining to them how to remove all their for-loops and squeezing their page of code into a couple of lines that ran a hundred times faster.
When you're not doing serious repetitive number crunching, but just need an über-programmable calculator, it can't be beaten. In so many areas it leaves Excel standing. Yes, it's rubbish at Monte Carlo simulation (I found that out the hard way), but that's not what it's for!
Anyway, I learnt quite a lot in my two-semester C course. I made a zoomable Mandlebrot set I'm quite proud of- judge for yourself: