Disclaimer: This is going to be a little more winded and self indulgent.
Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to describe someone you know well in just one word or sentence? People we don't know, its so much easier to pronounce them 'idiot', 'shy', 'wannabe', 'cribber', 'suck up' or 'friendly', 'sweet', 'nice'... Ofcourse this doesn't mean that those we know little we understand more. Its more about understanding the complexities of people. Getting closer to the picture to see the details. Being 500 m above the ground and appreciating the variety of the terrain. The people you know well, their complexities strike you clearer. Your view of them is more than the one dimensional one you take for mere acquaintances. You know that the generally shy one is really a clown around friends. You know that the 'superbitch' is a caring friend and a protective sibling. Just like when we really get to know someone, who has been an acquaintance for a long time, we discover 'Oh! She is so much nicer than I thought'. There is always an Oh! involved.
But at the same time we can't get to know too many people too well. You cannot see all of the earth at once in a hot air balloon.
This applies to places as much as it does to people. My colleagues back home are much clearer about life and work in Finland than I am. 'Oh people work fewer hours', 'They are so reserved', 'They are too process driven'. I am now too close to this picture to pander to my mind's laziness by letting it believe or accept some generalistic statements. In the 'us' Vs 'them' game, my position is fuzzier than it was 2 months ago. I know a little more than I knew, so I know how little I know. My education is just beginning.
Yes generalizations are useful. It helps your brain organize the copious amounts of information into some semblance of order. Its like the periodic table we learnt to classify elements or the classifications of plant & animal families. There are broad patterns but enough exceptions. A true education will do more than just give you the information and help you understand the grids and frameworks. It will help you to see the contradictions and the complexities. It's not necessary to know all; only to remember that the information we have is like hyperlinks, there is always more to find out if you have the time to click.