Parents Sanjay and Neupam Girdhar travelled more than 5,000 miles to see their daughter graduate – and they face doing the same thing all over again.
When Bhavika Girdhar arrived in the North East to start her Pharmacy degree at the University of Sunderland, she missed one thing from back home in Canada – little sister Kanika.
But not even 5,646 miles of ocean was going to stop this pair from proving that blood is thicker than water.
Taking a leaf out of Bhavika’s book, Kanika decided to enrol on MPharm too and the pair have been living and studying together in the city ever since.
Bhavika, 25, said: “She arrived here last September, it’s amazing to have her here and to be together.
But now Bhavika has graduated during a ceremony at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland, while Kanika faces a few more years of study.
Watched on by her parents, who flew all the way from the family home in London, Canada, as well as Kanika, the big sister did her family proud as she collected her scroll.
Bhavika said: “It’s been an amazing four years and I know Kanika is going to enjoy the rest of her time in Sunderland.”
It means Sanjay and Neupam face heading back to Wearside in three years’ time to see their other daughter follow in Bhavika’s footsteps.
Kanika, 18, said: “I was quite nervous when I moved here but it’s been brilliant having that sense of independence; of shopping for myself, making my own food etc.
“Bhavika had told me how good the pharmacy course was here and I knew she had settled in the city, so I wanted to come and join her.”
But Kanika need not worry about getting lonely without her big sister.
Bhavika said: “I’m planning to stay in Sunderland for my training year so I will be around. But I’m going to let Kanika do her own thing.”
Mum Neupam said: “We arrived in Manchester on Sunday and drove up to Sunderland and, I have to say, we love it here. We’ve had fish and chips on the seafront and really like how friendly the city is.
“Now we just have to come back and do it all over again when Kanika graduates.”