Monty Brinton/CBS
November 10, 2010 11:15 AM

After dodging bullets for weeks on Survivor, Alina Wilson’s lucky streak came to an end right after the merge. The 23-year-old art student from Downey, Calif., and first jury member called PEOPLE to compare Survivor to high school and reminisce about the show’s glory days.

Were you dreading the merge and reuniting with the people who considered you a target?
I was worried it could put me in a bad spot if people couldn’t let go of the first tribal vote. I knew I had some enemies but I tend to be optimistic … I thought people would let go of things from the past and new alliances could be formed.

People seemed to vote emotionally. They ignored a lot of evidence in favor of others going home to vote you out.
It definitely came down to a few personal vendettas and the fact that I voted for Brenda at the first tribal council. The fact that I gunned for her made her gun for me. Rather than thinking to the future and seeing that I could be a powerful vote for her – she already had all the other girls on her side – she voted emotionally. She could have had all the power instead of sharing it with Sash.

Marty lucked out that you were there to take the fall, although his outburst about Jane must have given you hope.
Marty is so vocal about what he thinks and tries to teach everyone else the game while he’s still in it. I thought he was digging his own grave at that tribal going after someone with immunity. I thought he saved me, but no one decided to take him out. He was saved solely because of the deal he made with Sash. I had done a lot of work that day and without Sash, I think I could have gotten the numbers to get him out.

Why not go after NaOnka as Fabio had suggested?
If Fabio had brought it up to everyone, I would have been so happy. He was in way more of a power position. I was not in the position to bring up names that were part of a major alliance.

Every week NaOnka acts obnoxious and goes off on people, yet she remains safe. Why?
It was very frustrating for me to watch. I’m a strategist and I love the game of Survivor. There was one point in Survivor history where people actually cared who deserved to be there and that hasn’t been a factor this season. People think in terms of “Who can I take to the end who won’t get votes.” That’s why Sash and Brenda are protecting NaOnka.

Is there a person left that deserves the million?
Jane is such an awesome woman, a provider. She took care of everything at camp while all the guys were lazy. And she was thinking strategically. She switched to the younger tribe when she needed to. At first I didn’t like Holly, but she’s sticking in there and starting to make the right moves. And I appreciate Marty’s strength in the game.

Was it harder than you thought it would be?
I wanted the adventure and wanted to challenge myself but it was harder than I thought it would be. It was colder, rainier and I starved more. To get motivation I thought of soldiers who are out there suffering way worse than me and are in real danger. For me, it was a test of my skills and spirit and I loved every minute of it.

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