Saying farewell to Goodenough: reflections of a departing PhD student

Thomas Kelly arrived at Goodenough to study for a PhD in English Literature at King's College London. Here he explains why leaving the College will be a bittersweet experience.

As I pack my belongings and prepare to bid farewell to the halls of Goodenough College, a wave of mixed emotions engulfs me. It feels like only yesterday that I arrived at this vibrant and welcoming community in 2018, filled with anticipation and dreams of embarking on a remarkable academic journey. Little did I know then that this hidden corner of Bloomsbury, Mecklenburgh Square, would become my cherished home for nearly five transformative years.

Goodenough College, nestled in the heart of London, became more than just a residence for me – it became a sanctuary of learning, growth, and countless unforgettable experiences. It provided me with not only a roof over my head but also a nurturing environment that fostered intellectual curiosity, cross-cultural connections, and lifelong friendships.

When I first arrived, I was a wide-eyed postgraduate student, eager to expand my knowledge in pursuit of a PhD in English Literature at King’s College London. Goodenough College became my haven, offering the perfect balance between academic pursuits and a supportive community. Living amidst fellow scholars and professionals from diverse backgrounds, I found myself immersed in a rich tapestry of cultures, ideas, and perspectives. Late-night discussions on literary theory, impromptu poetry readings, and spirited debates in the common rooms became the fabric of my intellectual and social growth. The vibrant energy and intellectual camaraderie that permeated the halls of Goodenough College fuelled my passion for learning and inspired me to push the boundaries of my academic pursuits.

But as they say, all good things must come to an end. The time has come for me to bid adieu to this cherished abode, with a mixture of gratitude, nostalgia, and a touch of bittersweet sentiment.

Moving on from Goodenough College symbolises a new chapter in my academic and personal journey—an opportunity to embrace new challenges, forge new relationships, and continue growing as a scholar and an individual. The memories and friendships I have gained during my time at Goodenough will forever hold a special place in my heart and continue to shape my journey as I venture into new horizons.

While it would be impossible to capture my five years as a resident of the College, I will share anecdotes, insights, and invaluable lessons learned during my time in this vibrant community. Together, let us celebrate the remarkable journey of growth, discovery, and camaraderie that unfolded within the walls of Goodenough, as we prepare to embrace new adventures that lie ahead.

The boat party

Let’s take a nostalgic journey back to the pirate-themed boat parties that continue to this day at the start of each new college year. These vibrant gatherings presided over by Alan the Dean, brought a sense of whimsy and adventure to our lives. With his trusty cutlass in hand and a pirate hat atop his head, Alan became the heart and soul of these memorable events.

Goodenough Pirate boat party
Thomas with friends Daniel and Meagan at the 2019 boat party

These boat parties held a special place in our hearts, serving as a delightful opportunity to meet new members who had just arrived. As we sailed along the Thames, the breathtaking London skyline served as a picturesque backdrop, casting a spell of enchantment upon us. The gentle sway of the boat, the sound of laughter and music, and the twinkle of city lights created an atmosphere of friendship and joy. Amidst the rhythmic beats, conversations flowed effortlessly, weaving a tapestry of connections and memories. The pirate-themed boat parties stand as a testament to the vibrant spirit and sense of community that thrived within our College walls.

Dean’s Seminars – Budapest 2019 and Prague 2022

One of the most cherished traditions at our College was the Dean’s annual seminars to different European destinations, each dedicated to a unique theme. I had the privilege of attending two of these remarkable journeys, each offering a profound and immersive experience.  In 2019, I ventured to Budapest, where the captivating theme of money took centre stage, guided by the insightful leadership of Michael Mainelli, the former Sheriff of the City of London. The trip to Budapest was an enlightening exploration of the intricate relationship between finance and society. Through engaging discussions, expert presentations, and vibrant interactions, we delved into the historical, cultural, and economic aspects of money. The city itself served as a captivating backdrop, with its rich architectural heritage and bustling energy, creating a perfect environment for intellectual discovery and personal connections.

In 2022, we embarked on another unforgettable journey, this time to Prague, to unravel the complex theme of ‘The Velvet Revolution and Fashions of Authoritarianism’. Led by Michael Binyon, the esteemed foreign correspondent of The Times, we immersed ourselves in the fascinating history and political landscapes of Central Europe. Exploring the legacy of the Velvet Revolution and examining the emergence of authoritarian regimes, we gained profound insights into the delicate balance between democracy, freedom, and the challenges faced by societies.

Goodenough College Dean's Seminar group in Budapest
Budapest 2019


The British Ambassador’s Residence in Prague 2022

Summer and Winter Balls

Every year, the Goodenough Summer and Winter balls bring a sense of anticipation and excitement to the Goodenough College community. I still remember my first Ball in 2018, where the Winter Wonderland theme created a magical atmosphere. The venue was beautifully adorned with shimmering decorations, and the whole place exuded a cozy and festive vibe.

One of the highlights of the evening was the ice throne, which added an elegant touch to the event. People took turns sitting on it, enjoying the novelty of the experience. The delicious canapés and the famous chocolate fountain delighted everyone’s taste buds, while the music kept us entertained and got us moving on the dance floor. It was a night filled with laughter, dancing, and the joy of being part of such a special occasion. Since that first Ball, I have eagerly attended every Summer and Winter Ball, excited to see the creative themes that await us each year.


Goodenough Ball Winter 2022
Thomas and friends at the Winter Ball 2022
Thomas on the ice throne – Goodenough Winter Ball 2018

The Burn

In the summer of 2021, I had the incredible opportunity to visit the Burn, Goodenough College’s Scottish academic retreat. It was a much-needed getaway after months of being confined due to lockdown.

One of the memorable experiences during our time at the Burn was gathering in the cosy bar, savouring the rich flavours of Scottish whisky. The conversations flowed freely, and bonds were strengthened as we shared stories and laughter late into the evening. Exploring the surrounding nature was another highlight of the trip. We embarked on a scenic hike to the Queen’s Spring, marvelling at the breathtaking landscapes and immersing ourselves in the tranquillity of the surroundings. In the nearby village, we indulged in a delicious treat – irn bru ice cream. The unique flavour perfectly complemented the warm summer days, creating a delightful contrast to the stunning Scottish scenery.

Goodenough College Members at The Burn 2021
Selfie at the Burn, Summer 2021

What I’ll miss the most

Spending time at the Gbar with friends, lying on the Quad during the warm summer days, parties in the common room, grabbing a coffee at Freddie’s cafe, and enjoying meals together in the Great Hall – these simple moments have become the essence of my experience at Goodenough College. It’s the little things that I will miss the most, the familiarity and comfort they brought to my everyday life. Although it was sometimes bittersweet to see friends come and go each year, I wouldn’t trade the sense of community and belonging I found here for anything. Goodenough College has been the perfect place to call home, and the memories created within its walls will always hold a special place in my heart.


Goodenough College Pancake Day in the Buttery, 2019
Pancake Day in the Buttery, 2019