I would look around for other carriers if Cingular doesn't seem appealing to you. If you have Sprint, Verizon, Nextel, or some other carrier that offers BlackBerry service where you live and work, then check those out but first you need to find out who has the best coverage. Also, check out their BB Data Plan rates because you will need that to get email.
I believe you can choose the input language through Application Loader but I've never done it before.
If you want IMs, there are others on here who have used VeriChat.
BIS really is not that hard to set up. I have set up my last 3 BlackBerrys using BIS and I get all of my emails delivered. Or you can forward the mail using POP access from your desktop mail clients.
Hope this helps.