First impressions count, and the first few weeks at university for the new student are critical. What happens at this time is crucial in terms of the messages that different experiences convey to the student about learning and teaching in the subject. Moreover, negative first impressions of university life are known to influence the decision of some students who withdraw. So, how can staff go about making positive impressions in the first few weeks of term? This paper describes a novel orienteering exercise devised by the Department of Geography at Queen Mary, University of London. The paper presents results from a focus-group method used to evaluate the exercise. Results obtained from the focus-group evaluation demonstrate that there are many benefits from the exercise for the new student, with 'teamwork' and 'meeting new people' being the most important. The experience reported in this paper is likely to be transferable to other geography departments and programmes of study worldwide.