International Day of Happiness 2020: What’s Your Happiest University Memory? | Top Universities

International Day of Happiness 2020: What’s Your Happiest University Memory?

By Julia G

Updated April 25, 2020 Updated April 25, 2020

In these troubled times, it’s easy to get anxious about the state of the world, and happiness can seem quite thin on the ground. However, recalling happy memories and looking forward to brighter futures can help your mental state immensely.

For the International Day of Happiness on March 20, the editorial team at QS have shared some of their happiest university memories, ranging from success in sports to the camaraderie found in exam panic. Read on to find out more, and please share your own happiest university memories in the comments below!

Stephanie Lukins, Head of Sponsored Content at QS, University of Portsmouth

netball player

I was part of the University of Portsmouth’s netball club since the very start of my first year. As clichéd as it sounds, I’m confident when I say that without the netball club, my university experience would have been very different indeed.

From Varsity to sports tours, fancy dress nights out to early morning fitness sessions, there was a lot more going on than just playing netball. I made friends for life, had the honor of being captain for two years, played at the Copper Box arena in London… the list goes on and on.

Wednesdays were without a doubt the most exciting day of the week. Whether it was an away day or home game, when Wednesday finally came back around the atmosphere on campus was electric.

Entering my final year, my netball team had been bouncing back and forth between relegation and promotion for the last few seasons, and what with it being (for most of us), our final season, there was a genuine desire and sense of determination to get promotion.

Our final away day was the game that decided our promotion fate. It also happened to be against the toughest team in the league. We knew we had a chance, but nothing was guaranteed. Some of us had already packed champagne to pop at the end – was it tempting fate? Apparently not.

The sheer relief and triumph that rushed through the court when the final whistle blew and we knew we had won was overwhelming. For many people who were part of a society or club at university it’s what they look back on with the fondest memories. I know I’m the same.

Niamh Ollerton, Deputy Head of Content at QS, Swansea University

Photo credit: Niamh Ollerton

My university experience as a whole is a time I look back on with fondness. I think because I went to Swansea University through clearing, I had no preconceptions about what to expect.

I threw myself in on day one and I absolutely loved it from then onwards. The friends I made in my block in my first year made my university experience (about 30 of us would go on nights out together which is unheard of) and we all became friends for life and still meet up almost nine years later.

But if I had to choose one memory that forever sticks in my mind, it has to be Swansea’s proximity to gorgeous beaches and places of natural beauty which we would visit every chance we got. The image of Rhossili Bay along the Gower Peninsula is my happy place I think of when I need a pick-me-up.

Linda Mohamed, Content Writer for, University of Strathclyde 

Photo credit: Linda Mohamed

Some of my happiest memories from my time at the University of Strathclyde were the celebrations my friends and I had after the end of exams in May. Especially in Glasgow – where it’s disgustingly rainy most of the time – May is a sacred month: the sun is (usually) shining, the weather is warm, beer gardens are packed – you get the gist.

I remember one day in particular after a really hard Politics exam, my friends and I decided to venture on a walking trip across the city all the way down to its biggest park. We arrived in the afternoon with pizzas we had bought on the way, a few drinks, some board games and a guitar, and we spent the rest of the day there (watching the sunset by the riverside was definitely a highlight). It’s a happy memory I’ll cherish forever.

Chloe Lane, Content Writer for, University of Reading

Photo credit: Chloe Lane (bottom row, second from left)

My happiest memory at the University of Reading was joining the fencing society. The society was where I met many of my closest friends and I loved the opportunity to learn a completely new sport from scratch – eventually working my way up to joining the women’s team.

Aside from fitness, the society’s social life made my university experience a lot more enjoyable – with themed nights out, coffee meetups and the chance to attend BUCS [British Universities and Colleges Sport] competitions at unis all around the UK.

Fencing also filled up a lot of my time at uni – with training on Monday evenings, competitions on Wednesdays and practice on Saturday mornings, often with an added night out or two thrown in. I loved that the society gave me a sense of inclusiveness that made me feel part of a community, with its own sense of fun and friendship, while also drastically improving my fitness levels! 

I would definitely urge everyone at university to join a society – you’ll have a lot of fun, learn some new skills and maybe even meet some lifelong friends!

Craig O’Callaghan, Head of Content at QS, University of Bristol

Clifton Suspension Bridge at sunrise

On our final night of third year at the University of Bristol, the club had kicked us out, but nobody was quite ready to accept this was the end.

After a quick stop back at the house for blankets and hoodies, we all headed up towards Clifton Suspension Bridge to watch the sun rise. Of course, life is rarely that picturesque – especially in England – so instead we gathered under a completely overcast sky as the murky greys of the early morning got progressively less murky.

Then it started raining. Someone – I'm not sure who – grabbed a blanket and threw it around all of us, blocking out the outside world. I have a picture somewhere that someone else took of all of us sat on a bench, covered in a blanket apart from our feet. Out of context, it’s a baffling image and even having been there I couldn’t tell you who all the feet belong to.

That morning was the end of an era, the final moments before the credits rolled on our time at university. But for a few minutes, the world was no bigger than the six of us sat under a blanket, waiting for the rain to stop.

Julia Gilmore, Assistant Editor for, Newcastle University

Photo credit: Julia Gilmore (left)

Conversely, my happiest memories from Newcastle University are often linked to times of despair – and by despair, I mean ‘leaving essays to the last minute for three years straight’. An all-nighter in the library producing a 3,000-word essay on human dissection in ancient Greece led to me cementing a friendship with a girl I knew from my course. I attended her wedding last summer, four years after we sat next to each other in an increasingly hysterical state, fueled by coffee and music from the TV show Parks & Recreation.

Revision also provided some of my most manic yet hilarious times at university. In the run up to an English Literature exam, my flatmate (and course-mate) Lizzie and I decided to ‘take a turn around the room’, in the style of two Jane Austen heroines, walking arm in arm around our grotty front room talking about Mr. Darcy.

We were revising for an exam on Elizabethan tragedy at the time, but as our set text involved family members being baked into a pie, we sought our inspiration from the slightly less intense Regency period. When we both got firsts in that exam, we toasted each other with champagne from plastic cups in the same living room.

University can be a mixed bag of emotions. For every lazy afternoon passed in a beer garden with your new best friends, there’s a night spent feeling homesick in your room; for every academic achievement smashed, a disappointing grade in an essay you gave your all to. But, to quote Albus Dumbledore, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

This article was originally published in March 2020 . It was last updated in April 2020

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Written by
Julia is the Assistant Editor for TopUniversities, publishing articles for students and graduates across the world. A native Londoner, she holds an MSc in Marketing Strategy & Innovation from Cass Business School and a BA in Classical Studies & English from Newcastle University.
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