CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand - Buildings turned to matchsticks. Rubble littered the street. Screams for help echoed down the streets as rescuers searched for survivors - and victims.
Three hours after Oregon State University student Joslyn Krahel touched down in New Zealand, a devastating earthquake rocked Christchurch.
She spoked to KVAL News via Skype Thursday.
"It's been crazy around here," she said.
Krahel is studying abroad about 10 minutes outside of Christchurch at Lincoln University.
"I was in my dorm, here in my dorm, introducing myself to my other fellow pod-mate from France when in the middle of a sentence, we stopped what we were saying and said 'We are totally having an earthquake right now,' " she said.
School staff evacuated the students.
"That's when the full gravity of the situation set in," Krahel said, "because the TV was on and people were crying and people didn't know what was going on and that's when you got to see how devastating it was to Christchurch, that was so close to us."
In the midst of confusion, the students banded together to drive to the outskirts of Christchurch with shovels in tow to lend a helping hand.
"We got to go dig out, help them and get a good - just go talk to locals and get a good sense of how they were affected by it," she said. "They were very grateful to have extra hands shoveling stuff out there for them."
An unusual start to her study abroad term, but Krahel said she's lucky to be able to help.