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Camping under TTL 1000 has its benefits, however personally I wouldn't camp under it for longer than necessary? This is entirely subjective, but hitting Expert in a handful of talents gives you enough AP to act as a solid foundation. Trying to master / R1 everything will burn you out and kill your will to play the game. (but again, this is subjective.)
Try to do G19 as soon as possible, preferably before you leave 1k. I found Girgashiy to be a massive pain to deal on hard difficulty.
In fact, do G20 as well - Divine Link is a very, very useful skill. (serves as aggro control, lets pets tank dmg, boosts your stats a little)
Alchemy is OK. Just okay. It does decent dmg when starting out, yet cylinders are costly to repair. If you go into alchemy, I recommend resetting your skills before you leave 1k.
Do Festia dalies. Spam clobbermeister or if you can manage to grab someone to play other minigames with you. Hitting certain objectives will earn you AP, pets, bags and potentially a 30-40m female wig from the boxes.
Chain Slash does decent damage at low levels, however skill training is grindy. At the very least, do the skill quest to pick up Bachram boost.
When it comes to races, play what you want. If you don't want to worry about the meta, then don't. In regards to the meta: Humans are balanced and have Final Hit, Elves move the fastest and excel at archery (highest singletarget DPS at endgame), at the cost of melee (read: anything that scales off strength) but are very latency reliant. Giants excel at melee (highest aoe dps at endgame) and can become very tanky.