I was wondering if there's a way to use regular Spark on the cluster as opposed to pyspark?
By regular Spark, do you mean using Scala ? For this course we ask you to use Python (and thus pyspark). If you decide to use Scala we would not be able to help you as we are not proficient in it.
Yes I meant scala spark, just because it's nicer for debugging as the compiler can help a lot. But pyspark is fine, no worries! Cheers