1. Eastern European Homestays - Understand the Privacy NormsPrivacy is not always observed in Eastern European households. While no one is likely to walk in on you while you're using the toilet, you'll probably sleep, study, and get ready for the day in areas that are more public than you're used to. Small flats, years of Communism, and the minimum number of bathrooms in Eastern European apartments have set privacy norms with which Westerners might initially be uncomfortable. Don't fight it. You might find yourself wishing for an hour of quiet time to yourself, but when you are allowed that, the silence will seem voluminous.
2. Eastern European Homestays - Give GiftsGiving gifts to the members of your host family is a must in Eastern European culture. These items can be souvenirs from your hometown, postcards, food items, or other gifts that might be considered curiosities or of value. You'll probably want to withold a gift or two to leave with your family before you go to show your appreciation of their hospitality.
3. Eastern European Homestays - Help Out Around the FlatClearing the table, lending a hand with the washing up, and generally doing your part of the household chores will be greatly appreciated by any Eastern European host family. While your host mother may make you feel like you are required to sit at the table and relax while everyone else cleans up after a meal, she will be delighted if you pitch in.
4. Eastern European Homestays - Clean Up After YourselfEastern European mothers will try their best to make you feel comfortable, and they may even clean up after you, especially if you are male. However, the Eastern European woman has enough on her hands - usually she holds a full-time job and then does the cleaning and cooking in the evenings and on weekends. Because Eastern European flats tend to be on the small side, keeping your personal belongings tidy is important.
5. Eastern European Homestays - Remove Shoes Upon EnteringMost Eastern European families observe the "no shoes in the flat" rule, which means each member of the household removes his or her shoes upon entering. You may be given some slippers to wear inside. If not, socks are preferred. This practice makes sense to members of a society who are used to trekking around in dusty streets, boarding dirty buses, or navigating mud puddles during spring thaws. It will soon begin to make sense to you, too.
6. Eastern European Homestays - Try Your Best To CommunicateEven if you speak the same language as your Eastern European family or they speak English, communication can be a challenge. If neither of you speak each other's language, communication can be downright frustrating. However, don't despair. Communication doesn't always require words. Hand gestures, pantomime, facial expressions, and creativity can convey messages (somewhat) accurately. The more time you spend with your homestay, the easier this type of communication will become.
On the other hand, ignoring your host family is not an option. Do your best to communicate, and they will show you the same consideration. Ignore them, and you risk being ignored as well.