When she last strode through Seattle's Tacoma International Airport, Amanda Knox was like any other 20-year-old setting off on what they hope will be the greatest adventure of their life.
The extent to which things have changed - in the intervening four years - was evident by the media scrum which was building from dawn yesterday, as the world's news organisations gathered to witness her homecoming.
For the time being Knox is a global celebrity. US television networks are offering six-figure bids for her first interview.
Once the book deals and film rights have been sewn up, Knox will have generated sufficient cash to erase her family's legal debts, which are estimated at more than $1m (£649,000). She may even have built a nest egg that will guarantee her financial security.
Knox was born in the summer of 1987, the first of two daughters of Curt Knox, an accountant, and Edda Mellas, a schoolteacher. Curt and Edda separated in 1989 and later divorced, but remained friendly.
She was a happy, bright child, whose notorious nickname, 'Foxy Knoxy', was coined by friends on an under-9s football team.
Teachers remember her as a popular student. "We knew there was no way she could have done this," her drama teacher John Lange told reporters yesterday. "She was sweet. She never did anything to harm anyone else."
Knox went on to win a place at the University of Washington to study linguistics. Fees were around $10,000 a year, which she financed by working at the World Cup wine and coffee bar.
After focusing on German and Italian, Knox opted to spend a portion of her third year abroad. She ended up on an exchange programme in Perugia, Seattle's twin city, but had been there just a few weeks at the time of her arrest.