Living more than 8,000 miles from friends and family in New Zealand has been easy for Lisa Wilkinson.
The senior tennis player at Winthrop University often web-chats face-to-face with her mom on Skype and keeps in touch with more than 300 friends from New Zealand through Facebook.
But when a devastating earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand, on Tuesday, she felt the distance more profoundly.
The only New Zealander at Winthrop, Wilkinson first learned of the earthquake when a friend posted a Facebook status update: "All thoughts and love going out to Christchurch."
Wilkinson then browsed news websites and saw images of Christchurch in ruin - bodies stuck in the rubble.
On Tuesday, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake ripped through Christchurch, crumbling buildings, churches and roads around the city's inhabitants, killing dozens and leaving hundreds missing.
Scientists say the quake was an aftershock of a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck in September. Being only 3 miles away from Christchurch and only 3 miles deep, Tuesday's quake was more destructive than the first.
Wilkinson's mother in Hamilton, on New Zealand's North Island, has been updating her about a cousin, who lives in Christchurch, on the South Island.
The cousin escaped safely with her husband and four children, Wilkinson said, but those are the only details she knows.
"I really don't know the situation at all," she said.
Her Facebook friends in Christchurch have posted updates that they're OK, meaning alive and well. They've also posted pictures of destroyed buildings, fissured roads and uprooted trees.
Wilkinson frequently checks for status updates and messages from friends to know how they're doing.
Their messages are fleeting glimpses into what they must be experiencing:
"Hey! just letting everyone know the family is ok! and house is still standing!"
"My sister is fine. Haven't been able to contact mum and dad yet (they work in the same building)."
"Transfixed by the news. I can't believe my home town is in pieces."
"You can think about how they feel," Wilkinson said. "The middle of the city is ruined. It's an historic city. The cathedral is gone."
And so many lives have been lost, she said.
"It's hard to be away."