Your idea for levelling with some piece of paper is the best low cost solution. I have done the same. However, you should control the levelling periodical.
The drops of filament…this is a little bit difficult. Can you post a image? There can be a lot of reasons. Naturally, the nozzle should be clean before you start the printing. I think you should observe the nozzle during printing.
If you have a drop at the starting position, this is normal. The drop is the discard / the first fault. All other drops are not so good.
Follow reasons are possible: too much filament (I did’t have the problem, 100% is OK at me), the nozzle is too hot and/or the retract of filament is too short (probable) or the printing speed is too low. You can only test it with changing the different points. You can change the retract parameter in the cura configuration.
Some additional notes:
You should use only dry filament (PLA). If the filament is wet (from air humidity), you will have a lot of printing problems.
For a good first layer you should have a clean surface. A cleaning with alcohol enhance the adhesion. Also a warm printing bed enhance the adhesion. (Some other printers have a heating bed!) But after printing it is possible that you will have some problems for separating the your model and the bed.