10/04/2011 at 08:50 PM EDT
After spending four years in an Italian prison for a murder she says she didn't commit, an emotional and grateful Amanda Knox is back home again.
The American student arrived in Seattle on Tuesday evening and tearfully said she still hasn't adjusted to the surreal events of recent days in which an appeals court overturned
her murder conviction.
"I'm really overwhelmed right now," she said in a broken voice. "I was looking down from the airplane and it seemed like everything wasn't real."
After listening to her lawyer and parents give brief remarks, Knox, 24, stood before a throng of reporters in the airport and joked that after so long away she was struggling to communicate.
"They're reminding me to speak English; I'm having trouble with that," she said.
By turns smiling and fighting tears, she then paid tribute to her supporters, some of whom were cheering at the press conference.
"What's important for me to say is just thank you to everyone who has believed in me, who has defended me, who has supported my family," she said. "My family's the most important thing for me right now and I just want to go be with them. Thank you for being there for me."
Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 27, were convicted in the 2007 murder of her roommate Meredith Kercher, 21, in what Italian authorities called a sadistic sex game gone awry.
But the convictions were overturned Monday by a panel of two judges and six jurors after problems arose with the DNA evidence.