Good to meet you too.
Look forward to seeing your pics.
As far as "the response you guys got from your cameras", remember that it is so much easier to fine-tune and really nail the effect you were looking for in digital, so often its not so much the camera as what's been done to the image afterwards.
As an example, here is the untouched photo used for the image above as it came straight out of the camera:
The image clearly looks flatter and less dramatic coming out of the camera, and didn't really capture the feeling of the scene in the way I wanted. You can clearly see what I've done with it - which was simply to alter the white-balance, saturation and exposure. This was partly to correct what I thought was the camera not-quite getting the colours of the steps right, but also to emphasize those elements of the image I wanted (such as the texture of the steps, and soften the harsh concrete colour to look more like stone).
General Tip: I always try to post-process at least some of my images immediately after I return home. This way I can still remember what the light was like at the scene and more accurately adjust the white balance and exposure parameters of the images to suit while it is all fresh in my mind. I trust my memory more than I trust the auto settings, and now I work with RAW files I just leave the camera on Auto-WB all the time, as I know I will manually tweak it later anyway.
My point is, it wasn't the camera that made this photo my favourite of the day. It actually wasn't even "digital" per-se that did it (you could do similar things in the darkroom), but certainly digital makes this stuff a lot easier, cheaper and more accessible unless you happen to have access to your own darkroom.
But having said all that, I wouldn't have gotten this shot with my old point-and-shoot Olympus digital (or any digital non SLR probably). The only way I could get a DOF like that using my Oly was if I were in super-macro mode and very close to the steps instead of a few metres away from them (which would have changed the perspective completely), or by blurring it later in Photoshop (which wouldn't have looked as good, and been a lot more time consuming). But you *could* get that shot with a film SLR quite easily.
So the "should I buy lenses or go digital" question is a very personal one.
For me, the question becomes one of "do I want to improve the quality and extend the flexibility of the images I can already produce?" (ie buy a better lens), or "Do I want to perhaps take a small step backwards but switch to a system that is perfect for learning to take photos?" (switch to digital). I think the benefit of instant feedback just *cannot* be underestimated as a learning tool for a photography student, and seems to be overlooked or taken for granted or something by many. For me, this was the single most compelling reason to switch to digital (the 2nd biggest being the ability to easily photoshop images).
I actually gave up my film SLR (Canon EOS 300) and "swapped" it for an Olympus C750 point/shoot for this reason, knowing full-well that I was taking a step backwards in terms of overall image quality. I don't regret for one second that choice. If I hadn't have made it, I would've given up on photography in frustration, my film camera would be sitting in a cupboard gathering dust right now, and I would never have gotten the enjoyment out of photography that I do right now.
It took me 2 years of using (and loving) my Oly before I really felt like its abilities were starting to limit the photos I was taking (and DSLR's were cheap enough to be worth considering), and so I got the 350D just over a week ago.
But that's just me. Some people learn differently and obviously you aren't the type of person who would get frustrated and give up on film like I would. I'm sure there are loads of people who love film and have every reason to, and I would really like to do some stuff with view cameras and larger-format films.
But this isn't a film vs digital debate... I'm simply saying that for me, switching to digital enabled me to enjoy photography a LOT more and accelerated my learning immensely. But I'm also now realising the joy of using some nice lenses, so I can appreciate that option too if you aren't sold on digital.