...with apologies to the lads from Liverpool.
In July of 2004, I started back at Queen's in the M.Ed program; took a couple of summer classes in July, kicked back and relaxed for most of August, then cranked it back up in September (well, as much as one could crank it up in that program (which wasn't very much (because it was damn easy))).
The four years previous to that were the first four years of my teaching career. They were pretty stressful; had some pretty tough customers and admin that didn't help much, labour issues aplenty for most of it, coached and supervised stuff beyond what I should have. Plus, the first few years of teaching, you're just finding yourself -- how you interact with a class, figuring out a routine, accumulating some resources, all that jazz. Not a trivial thing to accomplish, and something most of us continue to work on our entire careers.
Before that was five years combined at Waterloo and Queen's, in physics (UW) and education (Q). The Queen's part was obviously a bajillion times more fun than the Waterloo part, not only because of the schools themselves but because of what I took at each. My B.Ed stuff was done essentially in my third year at UW, with a couple of co-op work terms (fall/winter) swapped-out for the B.Ed program, which means that after spending eight months getting ready to get out there and go get 'em tiger... whoops! Back to Waterloo with you, young punk, for two more years of seasoning.
Granted, in the first four years of teaching, I did have three summers off squeezed in there... but in those summers I took two courses and took a month-long trip to Europe, so it's not like I was just sitting around. (Alright, I was sitting around in Stockholm and Prague and Brussels, but that hardly counts.)
And then... grad school, the "snooze button of life" -- if you choose the right program. And, brother, did I ever. Two years of minimal easy work, abundant women, booze everywhere? Sign me up! Want to co-host an indie-rock radio show once a week where you can play almost anything you like on Tuesday mornings? That's the place to go, I tell ya. (Mind you, it does take a bit of a toll on one's savings account, but that's what working is for.)
I met some amazing people during grad school, and a few of 'em were even in my program. (Honestly, most of those people, I could kinda do without. The M.Ed program was pretty evenly split between (a.) working teachers looking to climb the administration ladder later in their career, and (b.) psychology nerds who had no real-life teaching experience but wanted to study something child-development-y. I'm caricaturizing here a bit, but not much; I think it's particularly telling that the Fac of Ed had exactly one (1) graduate course linked to pedagogy in any way.)
I'd say, though, that the most important thing I learned at Queen's was to remember to relax and have a good time, and that fun opportunities really are all around you, all the time. Stop and smell the roses, so to speak.