Re: Computer Science degree
I studied a smattering of C and it wasn't something I could pick up easily. I'm sure once you get past the initial syntax and vocabulary it's quite simple, though.
My brother is a mathematician and has done work programming in Fortran (something of a family tradition, actually) but that's not a language I would recommend picking up. Its use is quite specialised, even though the principles are influential.
In my humble opinion, picking up C and C++ would be a good choice. You'd be learning very widely-used, mature, stable and transferable languages. There are also a multitude of tools that can help with C and the compilers are consistent. GCC - for instance - has been around for decades and has a proven track record. There are more 'modern' languages (like Python) around but C is a good starting point because so many other languages mimic its behaviour. In fact, Python uses some basic C principles.