I'm new to Blender. I've used 3Ds Max, Modo, Maya in the past, and want to give Blender a try. However I can't seem to get a grasp on how to navigate the 3d scene in Blender 2.8. When I press alt, right click and drag in one direction, the camera sometimes zooms in (or out, it's 50/50), then as I keep dragging (in the same direction) all of a sudden it starts to zoom the other way, and it either keeps doing this weird in-out-in-out zooming or it'll get stuck and I'll have to re-frame the camera. The way it behaves is so un-predictable that it gives me motion sickness. Is this standard behavior or what am I missing?
Zooming seems to work fine.
You can use mouse wheel as well as ctrl+middle mouse button and drag. It is often useful to frame selected while navigating as well Numpad . is the default shortcut for that.
As very few people experience problems with zooming I suspect that something may be set up wrong in your settings. You mention non standard hotkeys - there may be something wrong with the keymap you are using. If you are just starting to use Blender, I would strongly recommend to use the defaults for a while especially when it comes to keyboard shortcuts. Customization is useful and most of the time necessary, however you should give yourself a bit of time to get to know what you are changing.
Try to enable Auto depth and see if that works better for you. Hold you mouse over the object you want to zoom into and it will then use the depth to zoom.
Blender automatically slows down zoom and panning when you are close to the object and my feel like it's stuck when fully zoomed in. It just slowed down really much because it's really close to the set depth and pivot point.
The Zoom-in-out is probably due to that you are using Scaling zoom method. I personally feel that the Dolly zoom method suits me better and maybe it would be a better fit for you as well.