Prof. Elia Leibowitz is a really nice guy. He's my new Friend in a High Place at TAU. Being in his excellence program essentially means an exemption from tuition for three years (neat!), and free access to any course I fancy on campus, disregarding dept./faculty boundaries and programs.
If I really want to take some advanced course, I can even skip a required preliminary course on the understanding that I make up the material on my own, and save the semester it would have taken me to take the prelim. I may actually take advantage of that option for some translation course I've been interested in.
Also, I can make up my own program to get me an M.A. in four years (i.e. three more years, including this one). I'm probably interested, but it would mean making a choice between my two majors (classics [Greek] and theory of literature) real soon, and I'm not sure I know which one I prefer. Also, there's the small issue of not knowing what I want to do when I grow up.
Finally, Prof. Leibowitz promised to help me get an interview with any professor on campus, should I want one, and should that professor be otherwise hard to approach. That's very nice, too, though I haven't encountered inaccessible professors yet.
Other than that, I continue on my normal program, i.e. the excellence program does not offer any particular courses or academic credits. It's more of a "we like you; if you need anything, holler" kind of deal.
The one thing that was hard to get over, though, was the answer to how they picked me: I figured it couldn't be my grades alone -- they're quite good, but I figured they were certainly not the best in the dept. -- and that one of my profs put in a good word for me. But both Prof. Leibowitz and the secretary who handles the financial side of things assured me that the selection is based purely on the numbers: grade point average weighed by number of hours taken last year. The program accepted two students from the humanities faculty this year. I'm one of them, so it turns out that, unbelievably enough, my average-weighed-by-hours score was one of the two best scores in the entire humanities faculty. I simply have no idea how this could be. But I'm not complaining :)
I have an interview with Prof. Dan La'or, dean of the humanities faculty on Sunday afternoon. He's a professor of Hebrew Literature, so I hope for an interesting conversation. Good times!
In other news, I have huge readings assignments, and I'm very happy about them. :)
current books: Poetics, Aristotle; History of Ancient Greece, Prof. Moshe Amit; The Greeks, H.D.F. Kitto(!); The World of Odysseus, M.I. Finley; Homer, Jacqueline de Romilly; Homer, Prof. Nathan Spiegel; Njal's Saga; To The Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf; and a couple of others.