Various tips for FF8:
A) You have to go out of your way to lose.
B) You acquire a fuckload of spells quickly.
C) Learn refine item, get fish fins from that fish enemy outside of balamb, and refine them into water.
D) Just mash auto-junction constantly.
E) In battle, pretty much do whatever does damage. I think the only way you could reasonably expect to die is if you just defend constantly.
F) Once you get Odin and the thing that replaces Odin (or that Odin replaces. I forgot the order), you will literally win every random battle instantly.
G) I'm not sure that you'd ever have any reason to cast anything besides Aura, in terms of spells.