Since you require feedback on a user of 500D, let me give you my honest opinion.
1) I lurve how small it is. I have large and long fingers. However, I love how my hands wrapped around the body.
2) The buttons are easily placed where I can find them.
3) It is not too heavy or light
1) Its not weather sealed. Top up a bit more, I can get a Pentax K-7. However, K-7 noise to ISO ratio is not as good as 500D
2) I wished the movie button is a separate button instead of on the rotating knob
1) Huge focal range. Well to me, a beginner that is.
2) Quite sharp if you know how to use it.
1) Heavy. I wouldn't mind getting 18-55mm kit lens instead
2) There is barrel distortion at 18mm
I am still in the process of exploring my 500D. Had it less than 3mths.
You might want to get a second hand body and a second hand lens if you are planning to
try out. Its cheaper.