I have recently relocated from my home country, Japan, to Europe to work here for a while in an international team, and I am experiencing a big cultural problem about interacting with Europeans. The problem is that I am often asked face-to-face by my new coworkers and friends to do favors such as:
"Mitsuko, you translate texts incredibly fast. Could you please translate this short text for me now? It's just 15 min for you, but an hour for me. I'm terribly overburdened by work today and also have to attend an appointment with a doctor."
"Hi, this is Eva. I just missed the last train to my town and hotels are ridiculously expensive here. I don't know what to do. Just asking, is there any chance I could stay overnight in your apartment?"
"You have such a powerful camera. Can I borrow it from you for this weekend? My bf and I are going this weekend to XXX."
"My talk starts in 10 min and I can't get my laptop working properly. Can I use your laptop to show my presentation?"
I feel embarrassed each time. I have almost never been in such situations in my home country. We don't ask for such favors. Not only do Europeans ask for them often, but they also do it very directly, leaving no choice but to either agree or explicitly decline. And it is hard to decline, because (i) they ask friendly, (ii) they make a strong case, and (iii) it's simply hard to say,
"Sorry, I'm not paid to translate texts for you and do not want to go home 15 min later."
"Sorry, I am not comfortable watching porn when someone else is my apartment."
"Sorry, I can't be sure you won't damage my camera or accidentally change something in its complicated settings."
"Sorry, my laptop contains private data such as the browsing history, which I don't want you to see, and I also can't be 100% sure you won't infect my laptop with some spyware."
Here's what I want: I want to avoid the inconvenience of doing favors (except those that do not really cause any inconvenience, such as giving advice), but, at the same time, I don't want to undermine my relationships with my European coworkers and friends. Although I do not intend to ask them to do favors for me, I do want them to remain friendly and nice towards me, because they are my environment.
People asking me to do favors are of different European nationalities, although most of them come from Eastern Europe (e.g., Slovakia, Latvia).
Is there a way in the European culture to consistently refuse to do small but annoying favors to coworkers and friends without alienating them?