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From the archives: ‘The travel illness’

20 Dec

[Hey peeps!  So, I just found this post in my blog drafts.  It’s so strange to read it because, even though I wrote it this year (the 11th of February, to be precise), I can barely even remember writing it!  Even the emotions I describe in it feel foreign to me.  It’s like I’ve just found an old diary.  Key changes between myself then and myself now?  Well, I’ve kicked the travel bug, for one…  No niggling urges to run away, no wistful afternoons spent daydreaming about European countrysides (okay, maybe a few of them), no desire to ride on the back of a Vespa with a gorgeous Italian man (okay, who am I kidding?  Of course I still have that)…  Just happy to chill with friends and an icy summer drink these days :).  Anyway, have a read and let me know what you think – both about the feelings I describe (what stage of the travel sickness are you at?), and about that feeling of not relating to your past self.  Has it ever happened to you??  xoxo, Dunja]

Most people who love travelling started their love story with it by having a few awesome experiences on the road, meeting a bunch of amazing people at youth hostels and finding a great restaurant or two after following a few rabbits down a few city alleyways.  After those experiences, they wanted to repeat them, meet more amazing people and have more and more exciting meals, and pretty soon they started complaining to their friends when they were forced back into the office again, like, “ergh, I must’ve just caught the travel bug!”

Well, my friends, I’m pretty sure I’m past the bug point.  I’m pretty sure my condition started off as a travel cold, then became travel influenza, then passed Go at travel bronchitis and is now collecting its $200 at chronic travel syndrome.*  These days I can’t go more than a month without succumbing to the desire to run away for a bit.

Problem is, I thought I’d gotten the darn thing out of my system last year.  I’d spent the whole of 2011 in Europe, travelling to my heart’s content (with a few studying/working pit-stops along the way) and came back to Canberra thinking, ‘okay great.  I’m over that now.  Enough travelling for the minute, young lady.  Now it’s time to put some roots down and buckle down until the storm** passes.’  Thing is, I thought it was just that simple, but it’s definitely not.  And yet, at the same time, it is.

Travelling doesn’t have to be this huge thing.  Trips to Europe or America aren’t the only thing that count as travelling (even though they’re often the most exciting).  No.  Just like I’m reading in Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road”, sometimes all you need is a little change of scenery and a few wacky characters to go with you, and you’re happy as Larry.

I guess the thing that distinguishes me from other travel-ailment-sufferers is that I don’t really want to just, like, have one big trip every 5 years which is, like, completely mind-blowing, but also puts my bank account into cardiac arrest.  I don’t know if I’m just suffering from ‘boo hoo, I’m in my 20s, life is so hard’-itis, or a general sense of annoyance at the thought of still being buckled down to Canberra until I finish my degree, but these days I just feel like I want to travel all the time, every week, to ALL the places.

Last year I started focusing on seeing Australia more.  I hit up Sydney, the Snowy Mountains and Cairns*** during the Canberra winter, then took a few more weekend drives to the south coast of NSW and the countryside around Canberra during Spring.  This Autumn I’m planning a jaunt or two down to Melbourne and a drive to the Blue Mountains just for funsies.  If I have time, I’d love to do the Great Ocean Road by the end of the year, but I guess we’ll see how we go.  Oh and I might, like… hit up Europe a bit again… at… some point…****


* Please ignore my ignorance of the progression of medical conditions.

** I.e. my twenties.

*** To thaw off from the Canberra winter, obviously.  (But actually now that I mention it, I’m really looking forward to the icy mornings again!!  Yaaaayyy!  Go Canberra <3.)

**** The ellipses are supposed to indicate my embarrassment at the ridiculous extents of my travel illness sometimes.  I just wanna laugh at myself most days.  Such a silly one.

[Notes:  I never got around to that jaunt to Melbourne, nor to the drive to the Blue Mountains.  I did get to Sydney twice, though……….. Hahhaha, SO not something to write home about!  ;).]


Pools of Canberra: Manuka Pool

16 Dec



Check out my latest blogging adventure, Pools of Canberra!  Here’s a taste of what’s to come all summer long, as I circumnavigate Canberra’s 10-odd public pools and rate them according to kid-to-adult ratio, tanning opportunities, the price of Paddle Pops, and more!  This one’s about Canberra’s first public swimming hole, Manuka Pool:

As Canberra’s first public pool, I thought it appropriate to start my summer foray into the pools of Canberra with Manuka.  Originally called ‘The Swimming Pool’, Manuka Pool replaced the Molonglo, Murrimbidgee and Cotter Rivers as Canberra’s favourite swimming hole in 1931.  Built in the Federal Art Deco style by architect E H Henderson, Manuka Pool is a quaint but gorgeous open-air complex that would make any rockabilly kid’s heart flutter with retro charm.  Get your high-waisted bikinis and Ray Ban sunnies out and make a day of it, peeps!


1.  Cost of entry:  kids/students/concession: $4.50, adults: $5.50.
2.  Water quality and prettiness of the building/surrounds:  The water’s clean and won’t make your new blonde ‘do turn green from chlorine; the only issue would be the few leaves and twigs falling into the pool from the trees that overhang from next door.  The art deco building is super cute and provides plenty of sitting space close to the water, while the grassy area outside (complete with a kids wading pool and a makeshift volleyball net, lol) provides a great balance of shady and sunny areas for relaxing.
3.  Ratio of kids to adults:  The day I went, the demographic was approximately one third kids, one third adolescents/20-somethings, and one third adults – pretty good.  Not too much screaming, either.
4.  Tanning opportunities:  Speaking as an unabashed tanning fiend, I was really happy with the offerings at MP.  Both inside the building (on the concrete surrounding the pool) or in the grassy area outside (on… the grass), I managed to get about a shade darker in only two hours.  Totally acceptable.  Just remember to slip, slop, slap, people!  Tanning through sunscreen is the only way to go!
5.  Price of a Billabong/Paddle Pop ice cream:  $1.50 for a Billabong Triple Swirl.  Mmmmmm artificial banana flavouring…..

Overall, an excellent way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and easy, too – one of Manuka Pool’s biggest strengths is its central location.  No excuses!  Check out their website for more information.


I love that poolside spitting was such an issue at some stage that they needed to make a sign about it.  Tsk tsk.

Be sure to check back at the end of the summer to see where Manuka sits in my ranking of Canberra’s Best Pools!  Until then, keep on poolin’, errybody!

xoxo, Dunja

Has TV become too good for our own good?

10 May

(Image source:

I’m currently in Week 10 of a 13-week semester at university, and while I know that I should be studying for my exams and assignments, all I can do is think about the TV I’m going to watch when my exams are over.  I’ve been preparing for the end of exams for a while now.  I’ve got a list of TV shows I’m just dying to get into – from Season 2 of Veep and Season 1 of House of Cards, to finishing off the current season of New Girl and finally getting around to that acclaimed Season 1 of Prison Break (I know, I know, how have I not seen it yet?!).

But is this a sick way to live?  Is it healthy to spend my time either watching TV or waiting to, planning on and daydreaming about watching TV?  I know I’m not the only one who lives my life like this.  I’ve had dozens of conversations with my friends about which show is must-see-but-watch-out-’cause-it’s-addictive (Game of Thrones), which one’s homg-so-amazing (The Wire), and which is kinda-intense-but-so-so-so-so-good (True Blood).  I’ve been told about the watch-it-when-you-wanna-relax shows (Grey’s Anatomy), the guilty-pleasure shows (Vampire Diaries) and the dude-what-the-hell-how-have-you-not-watched-it-yet? shows (The West Wing).  I didn’t see my brother for about two months while he was devouring Breaking Bad, and when a friend of mine told me about that same show, I swear he shed a tear about it – a happy, proud tear otherwise only seen from parents when their children graduate from high school or from Olympians when they finally win that gold medal they’ve been working towards for years.  It was intense.

TV studios must love this generation.  They must just love us.  Every day we post Facebook statuses and Tweet about the latest shows we’ve been watching.  We write scathing blog posts about that episode of Girls (homg it was soooo degrading to women!  But also thought-provoking.  Hmmm.  But omg I can’t believe Charlie is leaving!).  We compare ourselves to characters in shows (I’m totally like Charlotte.  No, wait, I’m probably more like Miranda.  She’s more pragmatic and intelligent.  Yeah, I’m definitely a Miranda) and emulate these characters in our lives.  (I do actually like Cosmopolitans, though…)

But the fact that I’m not alone in my TV-focused joke of a life – that my whole generation’s right there next to me on the couch – doesn’t make it any less worrying that I’m living like this.  In my defence, I have to say that I do spend some of my procrastination time daydreaming about books I want to read, bushwalks I want to go on and jumpers I want to knit.  Furthermore, I do actually go for runs and play ping pong and basketball and go out in my free time.  I really do.  But inevitably, I get to the holidays and end up spending alllll of my days just wolfing down TV show after TV show.  I’m sure the TV networks love me for it, but I really can’t stand that I do it.  It’s kind of disgusting, isn’t it?

I feel this self-disgust strongest when I hear about certain amongst my friends who actually spend their time in a meaningful way.  I know there’s a lot of judgment in that statement, but (a) I’m judging myself when I say it, and (b) think about it.  How can we call ourselves happy, fulfilled, useful humans if we worry more about closing our blinds to get rid of the sun-glare on our TV/computer screens than getting out into the sun and LIVING LIFE?  Sure, it’s easy to feel close to characters on a TV set, but why aren’t we spending that time getting close to real people in our 3D lives?  Why don’t we run carefree through fields, go on crazy road trips and create real memories rather than just watch actors do it in TV studios?

Aaaand on that note, I’m gonna read a book for a bit, then go outside and look at the stars, and then maybe go for drinks with some real, flesh friends of mine.  You know, live life.  Like with any addiction, I’m just gonna go one day at a time and do my best to stay on the right track.  Here’s hoping I don’t have to drag my friends out of their TV rooms to do it………


selection criteria: pencil skirts and heels

19 Mar

Here’s another article I wrote in the fashion section of Lip Magazine – this time it’s on corporate wear and why it is that some women (like me) feel the pressure to be fashion-conscious at work, even though the most important thing should be the quality of work we do.  What do you think?  xo

15 March 2013


Image Source: Diary of Style

This summer, I was lucky enough to spend two months clerking full-time at a law firm in my city, and apart from the excellent training and support my colleagues provided me, it was the sartorial side of the office that provided me with most food for thought.

For me, corporate wear is the most chic and flattering clothing in existence.  Sure, jeans and flowy dresses are great on weekends, but a crisp white collared shirt and a tailored suit?  You can’t beat that for classic style in my books.  After observing the clothes that my colleagues wore, I began to wonder about the kinds of aesthetic expectations that exist for women in today’s workplace, and where these expectations may come from.

Whilst chatting at a morning tea during my clerkship, I noticed a distinction between men and women that I had never thought about before.  Looking around, I saw my female colleagues wearing floral blouses, colourful dresses and ruffled skirts, while men were clothed exclusively in suits. This got me thinking – why did these women (myself included) wear well-planned, fashionable ensembles whilst their male counterparts seemed to have simply chosen a suit from their racks that morning and chucked it on with little more deliberation than they would give to their choice of breakfast cereal?

Ironically, it seems that it is not our workplaces but women’s magazines and department stores that impose these sartorial expectations on us, despite claiming to empower professional women. Sure, there’s an expectation at work that you will dress professionally, especially if you’re going to be representing your company (certainly when that company is a law firm), but at the end of the day, if you’re not doing the job, not even the most fabulous Chloé dress will save your arse from the firing line.

And yet, department stores and magazines aren’t letting their foot off the accelerator.  With every new season comes a new must-have piece of corporate wear – pencil skirts a few years ago, peplums last season – and if you fall too far behind in the fashion stakes, you’re led to believe that it’s a reflection of your competency as an employee. It’s not enough to be great at your job – you need to look like you’re great at it, too.

The office thus turns into a catwalk for women, with men’s suits emerging as utilitarian work uniforms in comparison.  The suit has been the sole piece of male professional wear for the past several decades and as long as a man’s suit fits well, there’s no problem.  Women, on the other hand, face constantly changing trends with which, apparently, they need to keep up.

On the surface, I have no issue with the range of clothes we women can wear at work.  I love having a wide and varied work wardrobe and adore shopping for work clothes with my girlfriends.  Yet I can’t help but wonder why I even feel such a need to keep up with corporate trends: after all, isn’t the quality of my work what’s really important to my employer and colleagues?  Do I fear that, if I don’t dress well, my perceived capability and value in the workplace will go down?  Is it because I want to give the impression of professionalism until I figure out what that really means?  Am I just faking it ‘til I make it, or do I think I need to feel attractive to believe I am successful?  Personally, I believe it’s a mix of all of these, plus more.

Whether these concerns are real or just in my head, the fashion industry’s promulgation of the idea that image and success go hand in hand – that you can’t have one without the other – is certain.  Sure, back in the patriarchal times of Mad Men, working women had to look great in order to land a secretarial job, but in this day and age when we’re surfing the third wave of feminism and are protected by anti-discrimination legislation both in the interview room and beyond, it’s curious that aesthetics are still so much a part of our working lives.

For my part, I’m trying to resist the pressures from magazines and department stores and remind myself that what’s really important in the office is the work that I do and the kind of person I am.  Yes, it’s important to look professional, but it’s more important to be professional, and at the end of the day, working with integrity is what people will remember you for.  Jimmy Choos are definitely fabulous, but hobbling around the office?  That definitely isn’t.

By Dunja Cvjeticanin

Do you feel the pressure of women’s officewear trends?

Men in skirts: can you dig it?

10 Feb

The following post is an article I wrote for young feminist magazine Lip Mag at the start of the year.  It was first published on the magazine’s website,, on 6 January 2013.  Buon appetito!  xoxo, Dunja


Since the end of the Victorian era, men’s fashion has been pretty darn boring.  The 20thcentury saw men coupling their upper-body wear with almost exclusively pants, shorts or other bifurcated items of lower-body wear, and that’s been it.  Not a skirt in sight unless we count Scottish kilts, which, outside of Scotland, feature only at weddings and other such formal occasions, anyway.  Maybe it was the industrial revolution forcing people into factories where overalls and other pant-based garments proved safest, or maybe it’s that societal values such as modesty and sobriety started taking precedence over Romantic era frivolity and pomp. Whatever the reason, most 20th and early 21stcentury men’s fashion was dull, drab and predictable.  My question is, why?

Sure, there have been a few attempts to diversify the scene over the years – the unisex fashion movement of the ’60s saw women don pants; men wore floral shirts in the ’70s; and designer Jean Paul Gaultier has made numerous attempts to bring back male skirts in the past thirty-odd years (starting from his Spring ’84 ‘Et Dieu Créa l’Homme’ (‘And God Created Man’) collection) – but on the whole, nothing has really changed.  Is it a question of gender normativity, lazy designers, or closed minds unwilling to accept new ideas?

Inevitably, how we dress and what we wear affects how we feel – as they say, clothes make the man (or the woman).  But is something like a man wearing a skirt really so radical?  After all, women have been wearing pants for decades, and though it took some time for it to become wholly socially accepted, jeans and trousers are now so much part of the average Western woman’s wardrobe that to imagine life without them would be difficult.  The situation with men seems to be much more rigid.

Today, it almost seems that it’s not the men who wear the clothes; it’s the clothes that wear the men.  Men are confined to pants and shorts, and if they branch out into skirts, dresses or even a very colourful vest, questions of homosexuality, transvestism or questionable manhood often arise.  And while these reactions may seem unreasonable to forward-thinking Lip readers, the issue is not so simple.

Imagine, as Charlie Porter did in an article for The Guardian in 2002 , a man dressed in an above-the-knee skirt going to your local shops to get a carton of milk.  Everything else is the same as it would otherwise be – he’s wearing a shirt and tie, or else a jumper and some trainers – but instead of pants or shorts, he’s wearing a skirt.  As Charlie Porter put it, ‘[h]owever radical you think yourself, whatever open-minded stances you take on sexuality and nonconformism, you would more than likely laugh at him or, worse, feel ashamed.’

Personally, I don’t think that I would react that way – in fact, I have seen men in skirts before, and it was no big thing.  Maybe my mind has been opened to the idea by designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier and fashion blogs like The Sartorialist, or maybe I just don’t care how others dress, but it was totally fine.  I would hope that people wouldn’t be so closed-minded as to feel shame for someone else for their choice of clothing, but, as we’ve seen, people are wont to shame others for their choices, even where these choices don’t affect those judging in the least – homophobia, anyone?  Nevertheless, the issue remains – is the world ready for men in skirts again?

One possible test for whether the world is ready is whether heterosexual women would be happy with their boyfriends/partners/husbands wearing skirts in public.  Personally, I don’t know how I would feel about it.  Sure, I think that men’s fashion is boring – that it could do with some variation – and sure, I’m fine when men I don’t know wear skirts around me, but to be in a sexual relationship with a skirt-wearer?  I don’t know if I’m there yet.  He’d have to be extremely masculine in every other sense (whatever ‘extremely masculine’ means).  And even then…

What do you think?  Are we ready for men’s skirts again?  Could you date a skirt-wearer?  And what about accessories and footwear – could you go out with a man who wears necklaces, handbags or heels?

By Dunja Cvjeticanin

The lost art of conversation

1 Oct

Recently while I was listening to ABC Radio National, I heard a snippet from an interview with a linguist who was lamenting the effect of modern technology on conversation.*  “The mouth and the ears,” she said, “are increasingly being replaced by the eyes and the fingers as tools of communication.”  Where, before, we needed to listen to people and respond to them verbally, now we read what they email/FB/tweet us and respond by emailing/FB-ing/tweeting back with our fingers.

It’s an interesting phenomenon, and for someone like me who loves language and rhetoric and the power of words so much, a worrying one, too.  While I’m all for the internet and really love its educational/information-giving effect on the whole of the human race (or on whomever can afford a computer and an internet connection), a big part of me joins the linguist on the radio in lamenting the change in human communication that it represents.

Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, being literate was a sign of quasi-nobility; a skill which separated the learned man from the villager, and garnered respect for whomever came to be known as a “man of letters”.  These days, when literacy and numeracy are pretty much taken for granted all over the developed world, I wonder why being a “person of words” – that is, spoken words – doesn’t carry the same weight.  Why don’t we study rhetoric anymore, like the Ancient Greeks used to?  And why don’t we organise salons and literature readings anymore?

How often has it happened to you that you’ve become, for example, Facebook friends with someone, and have had lovely, long, interesting interactions with them online, only to find that they barely open their mouths when you see them in real life?  Or how often have you been at a party and found yourself stumped for conversation when talking with another attendee, or trying, trying, trying to keep a conversation going with someone you just met, to no avail?  It’s such a disappointing, frustrating feeling.  You feel paralysed, or tongue-tied, or just annoyed, and you can’t wait to escape the situation.  (At least, that’s how I’ve felt.)  On the other hand, how good has it felt when you finally strike GOLD with someone, and talk and talk for hours without even thinking about it?

Sure, sometimes it’s luck; sometimes it’s just a matter of chance that you really connect with someone conversationally.  But often (I posit), good conversation is due to one or the other person being a good conversationalist.  Now, whether it comes naturally to the person or it’s a worked-at skill, the art of conversation is something that is so valuable, that I really wonder why we don’t put more store into learning how to do it better.

When I was growing up, I seemed to hear about people taking ToastMasters courses much more often than I do these days.  People wanted to be better communicators and spent their time and money to get there.  Why don’t we do it anymore?  Is the internet really replacing oral communication?  The same thing goes for lawyers.  Lawyers were for centuries known for their quick-thinking, quick-tongued ways – they could cover their tracks (for want of avoiding the word “lie”) in as long as it took to open their mouths, and their performances in front of judges almost transformed courtrooms into theatres.  Now when I think of lawyers, I think of shut-into-their-offices solicitors and bookworm academics who routinely make students fall asleep in lectures.  And it doesn’t feel like anyone’s trying to change it back.  In my five years at law school, only three law courses (out of the 16 or so I’ve completed) have included oral assessment, and even there, one wasn’t graded and another was completely optional.

Basically what I’m saying is, why aren’t we all working on our conversation skills more?  We should be.  ‘Cause it’s worth it.  Everyone loves to listen to a good story but no one wants to tell one.  So this is what I’m proposing (emphasising that I myself need to do this – I’m no Martin Luther King Jr myself): if you find it hard to talk to people in social situations, observe yourself, observe those whose chatting skills you admire, and implement change.  If you’re terrified of public speaking, practice with friends, take a ToastMasters course if you want to get amazing at it, or imagine that all the porkers out in the crowd are naked and get on with it.  And finally, have some fun with it!  We all love a good chin-wag, so we just need to equip yourself with the skills, hit our next social gathering, and then just party, and BS, and party, and BS, and party, and BS!


And now to give my fingers a rest and start using my mouth again…….. this time for dinner… ehhehehehheheh

xo, Dunja

* Unfortunately I didn’t catch the linguist’s name, and still don’t know it despite spending a good half-hour searching for the interview online…  Oh well.

Exclusive report from INSIDE A LAW TUTORIAL!

25 Sep

It’s Week 7* and we’re back on track after the two week mid-semester study break.  The question on the streets is, how are the students feeling?  We talked to fifth year Dunja Cvjeticanin in the middle of her Tuesday evening Evidence tutorial.

“Dunja, how are you enjoying your first tutorial after the break?”

“Kill me.”

Stay tuned for more updates on student life at the ANU College of Law!


* Omg, was just informed that it’s actually Week 8.  Uh oh.