It took me about a month to completly figure the system out. Part of it taking that long is I took delivery of one of the first SMG cars in the US so there wasn't a large amound of knowledge about how to do things like shift smoothly at the time.
Yes, you can pretty much drive the car just like a manual if you desire. It not possible to be as smooth as an auto though simply because you still have a clutch and the car stops accelerating during shifts.
Manual gearboxes, the rotary dial of cars.