The first year and a half was exciting. The second year and a half sucked. However, I can't really hate the whole experience, it allowed me to take a year long vacation at 25. That year justified the three years of working.
I also don't think 'throwing away your life' is fair. While I had a lot less free time, I did so much more with it. In other words, my friends spent all weekend sitting at home, watching tv and being a bum. When I had a few free hours on a Saturday, I actually did something - explore a new neighborhood, take a class, go sailing, whatever the case might be. In some ways, I enjoyed my free time a lot more than those who had it in abundance.