The caliber of student and professor was off the charts like you said. Everyone was infinitely smarter than I was. They had some of the nicest equipment available. I worked in a 3 research labs for 3 years in college, under 3 different professors.
My first grad mentor, I took everything for granted. Didn't really realize how great he was and how much of an effort he put foward.
My second mentor ... didn't give a shit about me at all. Actually, this lab was the most interesting too, which made it worse. He saw me just as someone who clearly was wasting his time everyday.
My third mentor, I started to appreciate the value in a good teacher. Not the greatest but made efforts in making the concepts much easier to understand. I cared way more about my final honors dissertation in this lab than previous research I did. I wouldn't even call the other 2 labs research, I just read papers all day and did lab tech work.
In the end I realized research is not for me. Its not fun, and painstakingly slow to see results. Still learned a lot.